How to get baby to sleep
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When you’re caring for a young baby, it probably comes as no surprise that often the key to your own sleep success is actually finding bub’s! So here are some helpers to get baby in the mood for sleep so you too can enjoy a well-deserved snooze.
A soothed baby is a sleepy baby
Babies under 12 months are not yet able to self-soothe, which means they can’t settle themselves in order to drift off to sleep. The only way for them to feel settled is by you. Your tiny mini-me is completely reliant on you as a chief caretaker to soothe them, and a soothed baby is more likely to be a sleepy baby. The tips below will help you soothe and calm your baby so they are ready for sleep.
Sleep techniques for 0-3 months
Typically, newborns require 6-8 sleep periods, averaging 11-16½ hours in a 24-hour period, so it’s going to help you to know some important tricks of the trade. When a baby is under 3 months they can’t be coerced to sleep and similarly they don’t know how to bend your feelings to their will either (that comes later)!
It’s good to keep in mind that life for bub is suddenly very different on dry land compared to the snug aquatic world of your uterus, so try to copy familiar conditions – with familiarity comes comfort and then comes those blissful zees.
- Swaddling: Wrapping babies up like a tiny burrito is a good way to help them feel contained, safe and comfortable. The secure feeling babies get from swaddling reminds them of the snug womb space they grew in all of those months. Swaddling is essential in the first 3 months as babies would otherwise ‘startle’ themselves awake constantly.
- Feeding & suckling: The comfort of a full tummy, mum’s loving attention and the calming feelings babies are flooded with when breast feeding can be a very powerful sleep-inducing combination. Sucking motions alone help produce calming chemicals in baby’s brain that helps them to soothe so provide things like fingers or dummies to help them carry out the motion of suckling.
- Carrying, rocking, patting, swinging: The familiar rhythm of rocking, patting, gentle swinging and walking with baby in your arms will likely calm them. Quite simply, this movement reminds baby of being back in the womb and moving with mum as she moves.
- Shhshing: When in the womb, babies are exposed to the sound of mum’s body. All that blood flow moving around makes an amplified sound similar to a gushing shh-shing sound. Emulate that familiar sound in their ear to give them some comfort and help soothe them.
- Bathing and wrapping: There’s nothing like the comfort of warm bath water and a nice swaddling after-wrap to prep baby for sleepy town. These combined efforts can be perfect for soothing.
- Settling in arms: It’s natural for babies to fall asleep in mum’s arms after feeding. That warmth and comfort is sometimes all an unsettled baby needs to feel soothed.
Sleep techniques for babies 3-6 months
Between the age group of 3-6 months, babies are sleeping on average 15 hours a day with 10 of those hours being at night. As a baby grows, their sleep pattern will change and getting baby to sleep will require different techniques.
- Be time aware: Be mindful of baby’s sleep patterns as this will help you plan their sleep routine as they get older and it will help you avoid over-stimulating them at times when they’re due for a sleep. This can be especially important to accommodate feeding times during the day.
- Active day, calming night: When baby is awake during the day, try and make feeding more active and stimulating and nighttime feeds more calming. Setting this general rule will allow baby to start setting a body clock around sleep and awake times.
- Bedtime routine: As babies grow a little older they start to feel more securely attached, and they can be more easily settled in their cots. Some may still require hands-on settling, but following a consistent routine is reassuring for them. If you develop a regular order of bath, nappy change, pyjamas, story, cuddle or similar, then this will help baby develop a routine and feel comfortable around sleep time without having to rely on you to soothe them. They’ll start to develop their own self-soothing techniques.
- Waking time: Don’t be afraid to wake your baby in the morning to start developing a wake time routine.
By following these tips, hopefully you’ll find bub is well-rested bub and that you’ll be able to get some sleep too!
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