Routine, Routine, Routine
It’s never too early to establish good habits and most babies will be responsive to a routine from around six weeks
‘The routine should just be a sequence of events that you do one after the other, which are a simple cueing system. But you don’t have to use the standard cues. For instance, some babies don’t like the bath, so if you think that’s going to cause distress, it could be a massage. You can be really flexible’ says Chireal Shallow, founder of the Baby Sleep Clinic
Babies who drift off on their own are more likely to learn to soothe themselves to sleep
‘Your goal is to get them almost asleep, but not completely, so they are still aware they are awake. If they are so drowsy that they briefly keep their eyes open and then go right to sleep, they are not awake enough. Again, we’re trying to teach them or help them learn the skill of putting themselves to sleep, which is a skill we all have to learn’ says Kim West a sleep consultant and author of The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight
It can lead to a sounder sleep, soothe a crying baby and help them stay snug and toasty during those early days of life
It is also a good way to move a baby when they are asleep. This prevents them waking in response to moro reflex (the fear of falling in babies).
And being able to move them means that parents are less reliant on leaving babies in car seats too long (which has been linked to hypoxia to flat head syndrome)
Swaddling does need to be done correctly, so get advice from your midwife
Light and Dark
Think of light as the ‘go’ button and dark the ‘stop’
‘Darkness causes an increase in the release of melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone’ says Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution
Use darkness to your advantage!
- Lower the lights in the evening (up to two hours before bedtime) to help baby adjust
- If you opt for a night light in baby’s room, choose one that is small and dim
- If your child wakes up during the night, don’t turn on the lights or carry them into a brightly lit room. That can be too stimulating
Sometimes your baby can be too tired to sleep!
When baby is overtired, they are so fatigued that the body’s stress-response system is turned on. Stress hormones flood their bloodstream, making it even harder for them to calm down, let alone sleep
Look out for these telltale signs and get them to bed
- Baby will rub their eyes or face
- They will turn away from stimulation
- Baby will fuss and whimper (with no apparent cause)