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Helping your baby to sleep 

PAGE 33 HELPING YOUR BABY

Some babies sleep much more than others. Some sleep for long periods, others in short bursts. Some soon sleep through the night, while some don’t for a long time.

Your baby will have their own pattern of waking and sleeping, and it’s unlikely to be the same as other babies you know.

It’s also unlikely to fit in with your need for sleep. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps.

If you’re breastfeeding, in the early weeks your baby is likely to doze off for short periods during a feed. Carry on feeding until you think your baby has finished or until they’re fully asleep. This is a good opportunity to try to get a bit of rest yourself.

If you’re not sleeping at the same time as your baby, don’t worry about keeping the house silent while they sleep. It’s good to get your baby used to sleeping through a certain amount of noise.

It’s a good idea to teach your baby that night-time is different from daytime from the start. During the day, open curtains, play games and don’t worry too much about everyday noises when they sleep.

At night, you might find it helpful to keep the lights down low, not talk much and keep your voice quiet, put your baby down as soon as they’ve been fed and changed, not change your baby unless they need it and don’t play with your baby.

Where should my baby sleep?

For the first six months your baby should be in the same room as you when they’re asleep, both day and night. Particularly in the early weeks, you may find your baby only falls asleep in your or your partner’s arms, or when you’re standing by the cot.

You can start getting your baby used to going to sleep without you comforting them by putting them down before they fall asleep or when they’ve just finished a feed. It may be easier to do this once your baby starts to stay alert more frequently or for longer.

Newborn babies will sleep on and off throughout the day and night. It can be helpful to have a pattern, but you can always change the routine to suit your needs.

You may feel ready to introduce a bedtime routine when your baby is around three months old. Getting them into a simple, soothing bedtime routine can be helpful for everyone and help prevent sleeping problems later on. It’s also a great opportunity to have one-to-one time with your baby.

The routine could consist of having a bath, changing into night clothes and a fresh nappy, brushing their teeth (if they have any!), putting them to bed, reading a bedtime story, dimming the lights in the room to create a calm atmosphere, giving a goodnight kiss and cuddle and singing a lullaby or having a wind-up musical mobile you can turn on when you’ve put your baby to bed.

As your child gets older, it can be helpful to keep to a similar bedtime routine. Too much excitement and stimulation just before bedtime can wake your child up again. Spend some time winding down and doing some calmer activities, like reading.