Getting a young baby or child to sleep can be one of the most stressful things a parent can do - especially if the young one has different ideas! I have cared for many, many parents where poor sleep is a major stressor in the family. As mentioned before when I was on a business trip in New York I spotted a baby T-shirt. It had a simple statement” If I am not sleeping then no one is sleeping”. This is so true as many sleep deprived parents can attest to. Last year Love To Dream released some research which highlighted just how significant sleep deprivation in the first three months of a new baby’s life is. Over 70 percent of mums surveyed said that would give up chocolate for an entire year just for ONE night of unbroken sleep. Chocolate for a year!
I also know that sometimes babies sleep through from 6 weeks of age. This is a blessing, but it is also rare, occurring in only 20 percent of babies. Most babies are sleeping through by 8-9 months of age. It is important to remember that all babies are different so what works for one baby may not work for another. Going to bed should be stress-free for babies & their parents & I would recommend trying some of the following:
Aim for a routine in the late afternoon that consists of dinner (if on solids) followed by a bath & a breast or bottle feed & then bed time. This should be structured & roughly at the same time every day. Young infants & children respond well to a routine. Bed time should never be scary or anxiety provoking. Babies will pick up on this. The room should be dark, well ventilated & not too hot or too cold. I recommend 18-22 C as a safe temperature range. Also make sure that the room is not too noisy.
Allow young babies to hug their favourite teddy bear, blanket or toy prior to going to bed. Please don’t put these in the cot after your baby has fallen asleep as it may represent a SIDS risk. Some babies can self soothe from about 3 months of age so the best time to put them down is when they are drowsy but not yet asleep. I have no issues with a dummy if it can help a baby fall asleep although I do recognise that some parents are against them. Also an age appropriate swaddle can make a massive difference in allowing a baby to feel comfortable by ensuring that they sleep in physiologically appropriate sleep wear. Finally never overstimulate a young baby, learn to follow & understand your baby’s behaviours. If you pick up that your little one is tired don’t delay in getting them to sleep. The big bonus is that you may also get a well earned rest!