Baby Sleeping – Settling your baby to sleep
We know how difficult it can be to settle baby to sleep and how quickly they change as they grow. And just as you think you’ve got it sorted they change sleeping pattern entirely. Follow these tips to help you settle your baby to sleep.
Baby Sleep and Settling Tips
Feed, Play, Sleep
Follow a Feed, Play, Sleep routine throughout the day. Depending on your baby’s age they will have a varied number of sleeps throughout the day.
The same routine can apply for waking period. Some mums prefer to change the routine to Play, Feed, Sleep; this is fine as long as your baby does not fall asleep while on the breast or bottle.
It’s important to teach your baby to fall asleep without needing the association of suckling on milk plus there are implications for cavities developing in their newly emerging teeth.
Recognise the signs
Try to recognise the tired signs as soon as they start. It will help prevent your baby from becoming overtired, cranky and difficult to settle.
Classic tired signs:
- Rubbing their eyes
- Generally unhappy no matter what you do.
Sleep Time Routine
Set up a routine from very early on so that your baby can prepare for what’s coming up next. For example, as you leave the play area in the lounge room, start talking about sleep time. Go through the process of pulling the curtains, sing your special song, cuddle and kiss your baby then lay them down to bed. Walk out as soon as you’ve completed the ‘sleep time’ process.
Swaddling can help a newborn to feel secure (See the directions on how to swaddle your newborn safely – SIDS and Kids)
Position in the cot
Always place your baby to sleep on their back with their feet almost touching the end of the cot. Make sure that the sheets and blankets have been made up so that they come to just under your baby’s chin.
Avoid Eye Contact
Once you have kissed baby and said it’s time to sleep, avoid eye contact during the settling process. Keep your face turned away when you are tending to baby.
Not all parents use self settling method. Some prefer to cuddle baby to sleep. You’ll know what’s right for you. Find support in the community if you need help.
The basic principles of a baby self settling to sleep include:
- Your baby is safely in their cot
- They may or may not be using a dummy/pacifier
- Your baby learns that you will always come back
- You leave your baby for increasing periods of time before returning to the room. For example, after 2 minutes return to the room, avoid eye contact, reposition your baby in their cot, assure them with a gentle pat, say ‘it’s time to go to sleep’ and leave them. You can remain at 2 minute intervals for a few times and then increase by 2 minutes each time.
- Your baby settles to sleep safe in the knowledge they are secure, well loved and without an association of rocking, suckling on milk or cuddling.
Parent Sleep and Settling Tips
Just for you! The focus of sleep and settling is all about ensuring baby, however we know just how tough the sleep and settling process can be for parents.
Routine, routine, routine...
Establishing a routine for your baby will help them and you to learn what to expect next. It will help you plan your day and feel like you have some measure of control on how things are going to flow.
Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility...
We know this contradicts the first point but the aim here is to aim for routine, but when it doesn’t fit in with your plans for the day, don’t stress. Learn to go with the flow and incorporate your baby’s sleep into the busy day.
Give up when you need to...
This doesn’t mean throw the towel in as soon as your baby protests about going to sleep. When you are attempting self settling there will just simply be times when your baby will not go to sleep for neither love nor money.
Be prepared to change your approach, walk into their room with a cheery voice and announce that sleep time is over. Pick them up, have a cuddle and start with the next activity of the day. Once you notice tired signs from your baby and you’ve recovered from the last settling period you can start the process again.
It’s unlikely that there is a mother in history who hasn’t felt at their wits end at some point when it comes to settling their infant. There may be times when you feel overwhelmed when your baby won’t go to sleep and you are already tired. Ensure your baby is safely in their cot and step away from the situation for a couple of minutes; take a shower, make a cup of tea, walk in the garden.
If you're not coping or need advice and support call the 24 hour Parent Line (02) 9787 0855 or freecall 1800 637 357 (outside Sydney metropolitan area).
This is one of the most important tips we have to offer. As soon as your baby is safely asleep, jump between your sheets and catch up on some much needed sleep of your own. You’ll be much better able to cope with the demands of being a busy parent when your bundle of joy awakens from their own baby nap.