Now I’m writing this, I’ll probably jinx my son’s good sleep patterns. He’s always been a good sleeper (with a few blips around age 3). I wanted to share my easy methods to help your baby sleep.
When you’ve a baby, you’re always asked ‘is he/she sleeping well?’ It’s pretty ridiculous given that no newborn sleeps as well as parents would like. I was very lucky in that mine woke 3 hourly on the dot at night for milk. I found it pretty straight forward to cope as long as nothing knocked that 3 hourly frequency.
Of course there were a couple of really bad nights where he wouldn’t settle, and a handful of times thanks to mild silent reflux, when it could take an hour to get him to sleep. Then either OH or I would end up sleeping in a random room with him. But on the whole it was bearable.
N being an ‘I pretty much do everything at the average rate’ baby, started sleeping much longer by 9-10 weeks. Baby sleep specialists call it sleeping through. However their ‘sleeping through’ is a 6 hour slot because they assume a dream feed at 10-11pm. That’s not what I’d call sleeping through – most of us parents would want to get them from 8-7ish.
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I’m all for an easy life and let N do it his way. By 10 weeks he was sleeping 6.30ish to post midnight, then we might have a 5-6 wake. by 3 months he was sleeping pretty much 12 hours. He would also nap during the day as and when he fancied it. And anywhere. In the buggy, in his jumperoo* and
How did he do it (because really he was the one who did it, not us!)?
Tips to help your baby sleep:
1, Regular bed time routines
People may be anti-Gina Ford*, and not all of her routine worked for us, but it gave me an understanding of why babies are like they are, and it’s a safety net in case you need more ideas. So we do (every other day) bath from 6.10ish, massage with mobile music on, get him dressed and into sleep bag, milk sat in the chair to the music, and then into bed to self settle.
Generally it takes 20-30minutes and by 7, we’re downstairs having tea with N asleep. Oh and don’t forget a regular wake up routine. So many people let their babies lie in to whenever…fine if you’re going to be a stay at home mum but my view is my baby needed to know a regular 7am wake up time. This ties in with his bedtime of 6.30-7pm giving him enough sleep, and it means when I go back to work, I won’t have to retrain my baby when to wake up.
Can you tell I like to be organised and have a routine!?!
2, Get him used to self settling
N did this from the start. Yes, sometimes he fell asleep on his bottle, and yes sometimes in the daytime, he sleeps in his swing seat so is rocked/vibrated to sleep. But at night he is always put in his cot and he’ll settle himself. We have no soothers, no comforters, no mobile (he hates it being on when he’s in the cot, although he likes watching it from his changing mat). Sometimes he grizzles a bit, but generally is quite happy just to snooze off fairly quickly.
3, Get him used to napping in the daytime
N was quite a sleepy baby to begin with, (he only stopped napping at 2 1/2 years). He has an approximate routine in the day, which I keep track of – it helps me understand when things change, and frequency and amount of sleep he has. We’re lucky in that he’ll sleep anywhere if he’s tired.
I think by us being out and about a lot of the time, he’s been used to sleeping in the buggy, car, at home in his swing seat/carrycot, the swingseat, other baby’s cots, on the floor in the middle of baby cafe…in fact, if he’s that desperate for sleep he’ll sleep where he falls. He does go through phases of where he likes to have his daytime naps at home so I just adjust and don’t worry too much about it.
For a while he hated being in his cotbed in the day, but liked sleeping in his swing seat, but now he sleeps a lot better in his cotbed so that’s where he has his naps at home. He will still sometimes fall off on me if we’re out somewhere and sleep just jumps up on him without me noticing. It doesn’t seem to have affected his night-time sleeping, so I think as long as you have a good night-time routine, and let them get sleep when they need it in the day, then your baby will sleep at night.
4, Black out blinds
We don’t have them as I don’t really see the point. As he’ll sleep in broad daylight, why wouldn’t he sleep at night without them. We do have curtains though and as we’re in the middle of nowhere with no streetlighting, I suppose it’s a bit different to people living in the middle of a city with neighbours and bright lights directly outside the house.
Some of my friends swear by pram covers like the snoozeshade which blackout for your baby to sleep under…they work for them, but N doesn’t like being covered up. He’ll sleep without one. They’re a good idea to start using them when the baby’s young though so they get used to them.
5, Let the baby lead you
Although we use a regular bedtime (and wake up routine), the bit in the middle has been baby led until recently when we’re weaning and have regular lunches. His nap-times have turned into a vague routine, he feeds when he wants to and inbetween we have playtime. At night, once we’d set up the bedtime routine, the rest was left to N.
I decided there was no point us doing a ‘dream feed’ as I generally go to bed earlier than the usual ‘dream feed’ time, and if he was sleeping from 6.30 – 1, there was no point waking him at 10.30ish as well, for him to continue waking at 1 and his usual morning times. So I left him to gradually sleep for longer. It didn’t take long.
From a newborn waking every 3 hours, by 9 weeks he was sleeping from 7pm to 1 or 2am. He then had a week around 3 months old when he was ill and reverted to waking before midnight, but once better he was sleeping through til 5ish. The hardest part was getting him to sleep through once he was waking at 6am. Sometimes I’d bring him through to bed with me, but eventually I decided to just leave him to groan and moan, then he’d go back to sleep until I got him up at 7am. Basically he was sleeping pretty much 7-7 by 3 1/2 months.
6, Get rid of the monitor
We use the monitor mainly for when we’re downstairs with the tv on and he’s upstairs. Babies are really noisy sleepers as newborns and it means you wake and think they’re awake and moaning for food, but unless they’re really crying, they’re probably just moaning in their sleep once they’re 3-4 months old. Try it for a couple of nights if you have the nerve and see how it goes.
7, Put them in their own room
Ok, so experts say babies should sleep in the parents room until six months old. But when your baby grows like a monster and gets worryingly violent wobbling the moses basket a lot, it makes sense to move them into the nursery and their cotbed as soon as possible. And crikey, it helps their sleep as you’re not waking them, and helps parents as they’re only waking when it’s a urgent cry & wake up.
And lastly, don’t panic if your baby wakes all the time. Some do take longer to sleep through. If you’re at your wits end, there’s lots of different expert books & methods to try so you just need to find the one that suits your family & your baby.
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