Before babies start snoozing for eight-hour stretches (typically at about six months), they have to learn how to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own.
These baby sleep tips can help:
Be your baby’s sleep clock.
The sleep hormone melatonin isn’t fully produced by infants until at least nine to 12 weeks, which means they don’t have a “schedule” until then. During the newborn stage, expose your baby to plenty of light during the day and wake him up for a feed if naptime has gone longer than three hours.
Keep it dark.
To help your baby understand that nights are for sleeping, keep the lights dim during night-time feeds and nurse your baby in the bedroom
Skip the nappy change.
Changing a damp nappy wakes babies up. Unless the nappy is heavy or there’s a poop situation, leave it be. Instead, use an absorbent overnight nappy and apply a layer of protective barrier cream at bedtime to ensure that your child’s skin isn’t exposed to too much moisture.
Consider the dream feed.
If you wake your baby for a feed before you go to sleep yourself, you will fill your baby’s tummy and everyone in the family may get a bit more sleep. If you want to give it a go, try it for three days and see if your baby sleeps longer at night.
Don’t swoop in at the first sound.
All babies fuss, grunt, and wiggle at night. Wait and see if your baby will settle down by himself before you assume he’s ready for another feed.
Make some (white) noise.
It’s tough for babies to go from a noisy womb to complete silence at night. Whether you pick a fan or a made-for-baby white noise app, the soothing sound will become a sleep cue that will also camouflage the sound of you tiptoeing away after you’ve put him to bed.
Put your baby down drowsy, but awake.
If you wait until your baby is snoozing before placing him in his crib, it will be harder for him to learn to soothe himself when he wakes up. Routines such as a sponge bath, feeding and a lullaby can calm down babies so they’re ready for dreamland.
Know that daytime sleep counts, too.
Parents often follow consistent bedtime routines, but then they skip them at naptime. Remember that the more chances your baby learns to self-soothe, the quicker he’ll learn to fall asleep, and stay asleep, day or night.
Written by Dr Bettye M Caldwell, professor of Paediatrics in Child Development and Education on behalf of Fisher-Price.
Fisher-Price parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.