Helping good sleep habits

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Helping your Baby Learn to sleep

Most parents look forward to their baby beginning to sleep through the night but every baby is different and the age they sleep through the night will vary. Our definition of sleeping through the night is missing one night feed so in reality if a baby sleeps six hours over night this is a good night time sleep behaviour . Around 3 months old is an optimum window for beginning to put in some good sleep habits.

Encouraging good sleep habits:

  • Avoid anything stimulating in the hour before bedtime. Keep it  Low –key and relaxing try not to have the television on.
  • Establish a bedtime routine. This helps set your child’s body clock and sleep /wake patterns. A good one would be: quiet play time, bath milk, story or gentle song. Do the same things EVERY night. It should all last about half an hour.
  • Place your baby in his cot/basket drowsy but not asleep.
  • Leave your baby awake, say goodnight and leave the room. *
  • Your baby should be asleep within about 15 minutes. If not look at nap times or revisit the bedtime routine and check it’s calm and consistent.
  • Try to have regular nap times each day. One a day should preferably be in the cot. It is healthy for babies to have naps and should be encouraged up to 2 years old and beyond if they want to. It is very important that babies under a year sleep in the daytime so out for a walk or a drive in the car are also good. Babies should not be kept awake in an effort to get them to sleep better at night as this just encourages them to learn to keep themselves awake.
  • Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
  • Keep the house calm and quiet but don’t tip toe about.
  • If your child cries try not to go in too quickly, leave them to see if they will settle themselves.
  • If they cry gently reassure them with the minimum of interaction.

*If your baby is under six months you will need to keep the room where they are put to bed dark and quiet and stay near them. Or you can put them to bed a little later and get a much needed early night yourself just for a few weeks. Once they are six months and in their own room/able to be left alone bring bedtime earlier.

If you need some extra support just call your health visitor or pop in to one of the well baby clinics.

Parent's helpline for crying/sleepless children   Cry-sis 0845-122 8669    www.cry-sis.org.uk    email  info@cry-sis.org.uk