Many people assume if your baby is up all day, he will sleep all night – this is not always the case. The baby is usually so over tired and over stimulated, that they have difficulty settling at night. A baby with structured and regular sleeps in the day is more content and therefore tends to sleep better at night.
- Do not let a baby sleep beyond 4pm otherwise they will not go down well at bedtime (7pm)
- Get the baby into a routine at night from 2-3 weeks eg from about 6pm you could massage your baby then give him/her a bath and then breastfeed or bottle of milk in a darkened room and then bed. This acts as an unwinding process and the baby will know that it is time for bed.
- The last feed before bed is vital if your baby is going to sleep longer at night. Often after taking part of the feed they fall asleep. Do not just give up and put them to bed, because in an hour or so they will wake up again for more. Encourage them to finish the feed by waking them. You could change their nappy, tickle them wind them or cool them down. But keep going!
- The minute your baby cries it is tempting to rush over to the cot and pick it up. Try not to, wait a few moments and see if he/she will settle themselves back to sleep. If he doesn’t then try patting him in his cot and if you cannot settle then pick him up and comfort him but then put him back in his cot and leave the room and see if he will settle. If he doesn’t then leave him to cry a little longer ie 3 or 4 minutes and then go back in and repeat the process.
- Try and put your baby down in his cot AWAKE, so he gets used to going to sleep on his own. Don’t get into the habit of rocking your baby to sleep – you may be there for hours!
- When feeding in the night, do not go into the room and turn on the lights and TV. It is night time and the baby needs to understand this – so keep things quiet. Especially important if you have a maternity nurse, don’t get chatting to them while feeding!
- Buy black out blinds, which is useful for keeping early morning rays out.
- Do not expect your baby to sleep through the nights until they are on solids at around 6 months.
- If after 6 months you child is eating solids and drinking very well during the day and he is on target weight wise, yet still not sleeping through the night, you could try a number of things:
- Instead of giving your baby milk when he wakes in the night try cooled boiled water
- If that does not work, water down their milk e.g. 2 scoops to 6 ounces of water. The idea is to make it not so tasty so the baby will not bother to wake in the night for it and encourage him to take all the milk he needs during the day
- Or you could just soothe and pat your baby back to sleep without anything. This may take a long time if the baby is used to milk
NB: Whatever action you take do stick to it for at least 2-3 weeks. It is no good for a couple of days as this is not long enough to get rid of bad habits.
By Anastasia Baker, Night Nannies