This is how to help your baby sleep

Babies and Children article on how to help your baby sleep - picture of baby yawning
Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

Most parents have questions about their newborn baby and their sleep patterns. Usually, the first question is when will my baby sleep through the night. We’ll answer your questions here.

Baby sleep patterns can be erratic, to say the least. Every baby has its own pattern of sleeping. some have lots of naps while others will sleep for longer periods.

Their periods of sleep will most definitely not fit in with yours. This leads to probably our best bit of advice for you. Do your best to sleep, when your baby does.

At what age do babies start sleeping through the night?

For their first few months in the world, they have no idea of time. Their sleep cycles are very different from their parents. Babies don’t get into a routine until around 3 to 6 months. It may seem a lot longer than that though.

Before this time, however, they will sleep for shorter periods. Normally 2 to 4 hours at a time. If you’re worried about your baby not sleeping through, there’s nothing to worry about. Around 30% of babies don’t start sleeping through the night until they are 12 months old.

Some tips to help your baby sleep through the night

There are a fair few things you can do to aid your baby in getting to sleep. Then hopefully start sleeping through the night sooner. Follow these points then your little one will eventually learn that nighttime is sleep time. You may find these tips work well:

  • Create a routine – bath, getting changed, reading a book, or gentle music.
  • Dim the lights or use a night light.
  • Try to put them to bed at the same time each night.
  • Make sure your baby has its needs met before bedtime.
  • Give them a soft toy, but don’t leave it with them if they are very young.
  • Try to keep the temperature cool, around 20 degrees Celcius is good.
  • Do your best to not feed your baby to sleep – This could stop them from learning to self-soothe.
  • It’s helpful to put them into their cot as soon as possible and not let them fall asleep in your arms. Again, this can stop them from self-soothing.
  • Try not to talk or play with them once you’ve put them in their cot.

Whatever you do it’s best to keep these consistent rather than changing things around each night. They then get used to the routine that you’ve set.

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How much sleep does a baby need?

Some adults can get by on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night. While others need 10 or 12 hours every night. Babies are exactly the same, that they all need different amounts of sleep.

Here is a useful list showing roughly how much sleep your baby will need over its first year.

  • A newborn will need to sleep anywhere between 8 and 18 hours. This includes all their naps in 24 hours.
  • The sleep needed by a 3 to a 6-month-old baby will be about 8 to 12 hours with naps during the day. Most of their sleep will be at night.
  • Between 6 and 12 months your baby can sleep anything up to and around 12 hours. Many babies will sleep through the night now.

Should I let my baby ‘cry’ themselves to sleep?

Letting your baby cry themselves to sleep is a well-known course of action. Also known as the ‘cry it out’ method, it can be very stressful. For you the parent and your baby. There are mixed opinions on doing this.

Some experts say it works and has many positive effects. Effects such as becoming better sleepers sooner and able to self-soothe better. They also say that babies of parents that used the CIO method become less fussy children.

On the other hand, other experts believe it’s not good for a baby. They say it can cause abandonment issues. Furthermore they say it can also make them insecure.

With no clear argument, either way, it’s a matter of personal preference. If you find it too stressful, then there are other ways to help your baby sleep.

The gentle sleep book

Sleep patterns of babies change. You could have a great routine going and then all of a sudden they don’t get to sleep as well as they were. This can be for a number of reasons from teething to growth spurts.

The gentle sleep book Gentle, No-Tears, Sleep Solutions for Parents of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
The gentle sleep book

If you are having real trouble getting your baby to sleep, we can highly recommend Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s The gentle sleep book. Gentle, No-Tears, Sleep Solutions for Parents of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds.

Don’t just take our word for it though. A testament to how good this book is the ratings it has received on Amazon.

You can visit Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s website here.

Finally, your sleep is important too

If you find you’re not getting enough sleep, you need to find a way to catch up. It’s important you are well-rested. When you’re rested, you can serve your baby better, you’re more alert and aware of their needs.

You should sleep when your baby sleeps, but we know that can be hard sometimes. If so make sure to ask your partner to take over so you can get some rest. You could even ask a friend to come over and look after them.

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