Things this page covers:
- Establish a regular sleep time.
- Night time is for sleep.
- A bedtime routine.
- Get your child use to being put into bed awake.
- Daytime naps.
- Keep it simple.
- Be consistent.
- The family bed.
- Posture in bed.
Establish a regular sleep time
During the first weeks of life your baby does not yet have a set day-night rhythm. You can help create this rhythm by setting regular times forgoing to bed and waking up. These need to allow plenty of time for sleep. The more regular the hours, the stronger the sleep-wake cycle will be. This helps you predict when they need sleep. Regular hours are important for older children too.
Night time is for sleep
You need to help your baby understand this. You do this by socialising as little as you can at night. Save stimulating social interaction for daylight and evening hours. Attend to your baby and feed in low light overnight. Also avoid rushing to the cot at the first sign of stirring. Your baby may well resettle if left for a moment or two.
A bedtime routine
Get into the habit of doing the same things before bed. This helps prepare your baby for sleep. It also helps him or her understand that the time has come for sleep. Simple things like a bath, some quiet time including reading to your baby, a final feed and a kiss can be part of this routine.
Get your child used to being put into bed awake
This helps your baby learn to fall to sleep without your help. It's best for your baby to be sleepy and relaxed when they are placed in the cot. You don't need to wait for your child to be asleep before putting him or her to bed.
Babies and young children need a lot of sleep. They will need daytime naps. Get into a routine with these as much as you can.
Keep it simple
Don't go over the top to get your baby to sleep. Rocking, pushing your baby around in a stroller and other things may help at first. But the risk is that your baby will learn to need these things to sleep. If this happens, they won't go to sleep without them. From the start, take steps to help your baby learn to sleep alone. Don't rely on external aids.
Your baby will learn good sleep habits if you take a consistent approach. You may find it quite tough at first, but there will be long term rewards for you and your baby.
The family bed
Think about whether you really want your baby to sleep in your bed. While some parents prefer this sooner or later the infant will need to move out. You might then find that it is hard to break the habit. Babies sleeping in the parents’ bed has also been linked to a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome in some cases. If you do choose to have your baby sleep in bed with you, make sure you position your baby with care. You don't want them covered by bedclothes or too hot. Also think about where you and your partner sleep so that you don't roll onto your baby by accident.
Posture in bed
Babies sleeping on their tummies has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome. The safest position for your baby is on their back, face up.
Time for you
Young parenthood is greatly rewarding and exciting. But it can be a very tiring and demanding time for you. Make sure you have plenty of downtime too. When your baby is awake, you want to be able to enjoy the interaction. Use the time your baby is sleeping to rest. Arrange with your partner to have sometime off. This will mean that you will be happier, brighter and better able to cope. Because of this, you will enjoy raising your baby more.