Everybody wants their baby to sleep like a, well, baby… but it’s not always as simple as that. Jo Ryan, an expert sleep consultant shares her top tips for ensuring your bub gets a good night’s sleep… which means you should too.
TIP 1: ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
The most important thing I can recommend is to establish a routine with your baby. A routine can involve a bath, a massage, a feed and then some lovely wind down time together, and it’s never too early to establish this as part of your nightly routine. You might want to incorporate your own rituals to share with your baby. Maybe it’s your favourite childhood book (even if baby doesn’t understand it yet), a song or lullaby. It’s all part of the predictable rhythm to winding down.
TIP 2: SET A BED TIME
Related to routine is timing. It’s important to have a set bed-time. I know these days, we all live a fairly unstructured life. We value spontaneity but when it comes to babies, structure and predictability can really make a difference. When a baby feels like they know what is coming next, they feel more in control and this feeling helps them to relax. You don’t have to make bedtime really rigid (7.08pm is not that different from 6.49pm) but roughly between 6 and 7 you should start a wind down process and stick to it. I have heard some mothers settling their baby as late as 11pm and then finding that the baby does not sleep well and is unsettled during the day. The best hours for baby to sleep are the early hours of the night as this is when they have their deepest and most refreshing sleep. Waiting until later robs them of the best part of their sleep. It is much better to stick with a regular 7ish sleep time.
TIP 3: LISTEN TO YOUR BABY
Listen to your baby when they are settling. I do not advocate controlled crying but I do think you need to listen to your baby carefully to see if they are crying or just making a few noises which are their winding down noises. When you have a new baby, it feels awful to leave them and you don’t want them to be distressed but many (if not all babies) do make a few noises as they’re going to sleep on their own. Prior to 12 weeks, it’s unlikely they can settle on their own; they need your help. Once they get past 12 weeks, and self-settling starts to become a possibility, if you rush in, they will never get the chance to learn this skill. Listen to your baby and trust your intuition. If you feel like they are getting distressed, don’t leave them, but if you feel like they are winding down, give them a moment.
TIP 4: CHECK THE BABY’S ROOM
Babies’ rooms can be incredibly distracting. Mobiles over the bed, the flashing light of the modem on the desk, cracks through the blinds. All these things can be fascinating to a baby. Making the area around the cot dark and boring can really help.
TIP 5: TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
You are ok and your baby’s ok. Unless you feel something is wrong. If you do, don’t wait outside the nursery door. It’s fine to check your baby if you’re worried. It’s fine to comfort your baby if they’re distressed. I really believe that parents know what’s best for their baby.
Jo is an advocate for JOHNSON’S® clinically proven 3-Step Routine.The JOHNSON’s BEDTIME App can be downloaded from the App Store on iOS or Google Play on Android devices. Visit www.johnsonsbaby.com.au/bedtime for more information.