How to help your baby get to sleep
Settling your newborn into a good bedtime routine can make the months to come much easier and less sleep deprived. By six months old, many babies are able to sleep through the night without a feed and many parents begin to introduce a routine from six to eight weeks. Routines aren’t for everyone though, so follow your instincts and do what feels right for you and your baby.
Regular nap times
Sticking to set nap times throughout the day and a set bedtime at night can help your baby get into a regular sleeping routine. It can also help you keep track of how long they’re sleeping – and give you chance to get some shuteye too!
Getting your baby into a routine can take a bit of trial-and-error as you learn just how much sleep your baby needs, but don’t be afraid to wake them up if they’re sleeping for longer than you think they need to.
Baby sleep patterns
To help your baby get into the habit of sleeping for short spells throughout the day and longer periods during the night, try teaching them the difference between the two. Make daytime light, bright, noisy and exciting. Even when they’re napping, try not to block out the world, and don’t worry about keeping things quiet.
Come night-time, make your home dark, quiet and calming as their bedtime approaches. Once your baby’s in their cot, close the curtains, and if you’re near their room, keep your voices low and turn the TV down. The change in atmosphere will help your baby tell the difference.
When do babies sleep through the night?
Once your little one reaches six months, they may be able to get through without a feed until morning. If they haven’t started to do this naturally, you can encourage them by gradually leaving longer between each night’s feeds. Make sure you keep the mood calm and quiet so they know it’s not time for the day’s activities to start.
If you’re keen to help your baby sleep through, try not to let them get into the habit of falling asleep while you’re feeding them. In the same way, encouraging them to drift off on their own will make it easier for them to get back to sleep if they wake in the night.
Read more about night feeds.
Getting your baby ready for bedtime from 6 months onwards
Once your baby’s around 6 months old, a consistent and predictable bedtime routine can help them relax and settle at the end of the day. Like any of us though, babies take time to get used to a new routine, so keep going!
5 ways to enjoy some quiet time
- Wind down with a warm, calming bath
A signal that the day is coming to an end. It’s time to put on soft, fresh nightclothes so they’re warm and cosy through the night.
- Turn down the bedroom lights
A cosy atmosphere will let your baby know it’s time to quieten down.
- Give your baby their usual warm milk
It can help settle them by providing a warm and satisfying end to the day.
- Sing a gentle lullaby or read a bedtime story
Reading or singing in a soft, soothing voice will let your baby know that you’re there to comfort them and that it’s safe to settle.
- Kiss your baby goodnight
Your touch and smell will help them feel safe and secure.
Baby sleep training
Some people use a ‘controlled crying’ routine so that their baby begins to learn to fall asleep on their own. This is where you leave your baby to cry for a few minutes before comforting them, and then gradually increase the time before returning to check on them over several nights.
Others prefer a more gradual withdrawal process, which can be just as effective. If your baby starts whimpering when you leave, gently and quietly reassure them with a stroke of the head and a gentle “Night night, I love you…” and then leave the room. If you have to go back in, don’t pick your baby up, just repeat the process until your baby drifts off.
Every parent and baby is different, so try not to get too stressed if a particular sleep routine isn’t working. It can often take you both time to get used to things, so just try to be patient and go with whatever works best for you and your baby.