How to Get Your Baby into a Good Sleep Routine
One of the most difficult parts of becoming a parent is the lack of sleep. Babies’ sleep needs certainly don’t match up with adult sleep schedules. To make things even more difficult, each child has their own sleeping pattern which may change from one week to the next.
However, although you can’t expect your baby to sleep through the night until they are at least three months old, there are things you can do to get your baby into a good sleep routine and maximise your own rest time.
How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?
Each child is unique and just like adults, some babies require more sleep than others. However, as a general rule, babies’ sleep requirements are as follows:
- Newborns: At first, your baby will sleep anywhere between eight to eighteen hours per day and wake every few hours to feed.
- 3-6 months old: Some lucky parents will find that their child is able to sleep through the night at just three months old! It’s estimated that two-thirds of babies sleep eight hours or more at night by the time they hit six months. They will also need roughly 3-4 hours of daytime naps.
- 6-12 months old: Babies in this age category can sleep for up to twelve hours per night, but don’t celebrate too soon - as they begin to teethe, they may be kept awake by pain or discomfort.
- 12-24 months: Between their first and second birthdays, children can sleep for up to 12 hours per night. They should begin taking just one daytime nap, rather than two.
When Can I Establish a Sleep Routine?
You should consider introducing your baby to a sleep routine when he or she is around three months old. Prior to that you should start getting your baby used to the difference between day and night.
Naturally, newborns have no idea about night and day and so you should teach them that the two are different from the very start.
For example, you might be tempted to tiptoe around when your baby is sleeping during the day, but it’s better to act normally. Move around, open the curtains and continue with “noisy” activities such as watching TV and hoovering.
At night, keep the lights low and make sure that your household is calm and quiet. Don’t change your baby unless they need it and put them down straight afterwards.
This will slowly get your baby used to the fact that the daytime is for activities whilst the night is for sleeping.
Where Should Babies Sleep?
During the day, place your newborn in a baby nest during nap time. Baby nests are light and portable, so you can move them all over the house. Better still, the walls of the pod help to recreate the environment of the mother’s womb, which is very effective in helping to soothe and quieten babies.
Your child should sleep in your bedroom for the first six months of their life, although not in your bed. Moses baskets are ideal for this purpose as you can keep your child close to you without having to make room for an entire crib in your bedroom. After six months, your baby can sleep alone in the nursery in a proper crib or cot bed.
Not sure if you need a Moses basket, Crib or Cot? Read our How to Choose the Right Bed for Your Newborn Baby article.
Pictured: Caramella Baby Nests
Establishing a Sleep Routine
When your baby is three months old, you can start introducing a proper sleep routine. Keep it calm and simple to help soothe your baby and let them know that it’s bedtime. Some ideas include:
- Giving your baby a bath (but remember not to do this every night, as it can dry out your baby’s skin and cause eczema)
- Changing their nappy and putting them in a sleeping outfit
- Dimming the lights
- Singing a lullaby or playing white noise
- Reading them a bedtime story
Avoid overly stimulating activities and try to start the routine at roughly the same time each night. There’s no need to be too rigid, however, since babies' sleep patterns change frequently. Be flexible and look out for your child’s natural sleep cues, which may include:
- Rubbing their eyes
- Being quiet
- Not wanting to play
Try to put your baby down when they are drowsy, but still awake. This will help them learn to fall asleep by themselves, rather than having to be coddled to sleep each night.
Sleep training is the process of teaching your baby to fall asleep without help from you. This includes falling asleep again after waking up at night time. For some parents, this process can be difficult whilst others may find it to be quick and painless.
If your child is unable to fall asleep by themselves by the time they are four to six months old, then it’s a good idea to start sleeping training. At this stage, they are physically capable of going six to eight hours without being fed but aren’t yet old enough to develop a sleep association. Beyond six months of age, they will start to associate sleep with being cuddled by you and it will be more difficult to teach them how to self-soothe.
Sleep training is often associated with leaving a baby alone to self-soothe, which many parents view as overly harsh. However, this is not always the case, and this training does not have to go hand-in-hand with weaning your baby off of breastmilk, either.
There are three main methods of sleep training, which are as follows:
1) Cry It Out (CIO) - this involves putting your baby to bed after a feed and allowing them to cry until they fall asleep. This is often the fastest method to sleep train your child, but some parents are uncomfortable with it. However, experts believe that this sleep training method does not negatively impact a child’s development.
2) The Ferber Method - less harsh than the CIO method, the Ferber Method allows parents to allocate a window of time to allow the baby to cry before going to comfort them. This window gets a few minutes longer each night.
3) The Chair - this method involves sitting in a chair next to your baby’s crib or Moses basket until they fall asleep and moving a little farther away each night.
At Unique Baby Store, we stock everything you need to help establish a good sleep routine for your little one. Our high-quality baby nests, Moses Baskets and cribs will keep your baby safe and comfortable during nap and night time. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here.