Our Resident Maternity Nurse, Mary Ashton on Newborns & Sleep | My Baba

1) How should I put my baby down to sleep? What position should he sleep in?

Your baby should be put down the sleep on their back with their feet at the foot of the cot, moses basket or pram.  Any blankets should be well tucked in and be placed no higher than the baby’s shoulders.

2) When will my baby sleep through the night and how should I encourage good sleep habits?

If we take sleeping through the night to mean from the 10/11pm late night feed until the 6/7am morning feed then most fit and healthy babies should be managing this from around 3 months.

To encourage good sleeping habits try and put your baby down to sleep whilst they are still a little bit awake.  Going to sleep by yourself is a skill that babies have to learn.  A baby’s sleep cycle is around 45 minutes compared to an adult cycle of around 90 minutes so they need to be able to resettle themselves. 

Also set up a bedtime routine I usually get clients to start this around 6 weeks.  Start with a bath before the 6/7pm feed and then give baby the feed in a calm and darkened room.  I also find that white noise can work incredibly well with the majority of babies as they were used to loud noises in the womb.

3) What’s the best way to help my baby sleep through the night?

During the day make sure your baby is exposed to daylight and activity to help them distinguish between day and night.

Make sure your baby is eating regularly (every 3-4 hours) throughout the day so that they are taking on enough calories to get them through the night.  If you are giving some breast and some bottle I would suggest giving a bottle of formula at the 10/11pm feed as this takes longer to digest than breast milk and may aid with sleeping for longer.  If you are exclusively breastfeeding I am not suggesting you introduce formula to get your baby to sleep for longer.  I have had some exclusively breastfed babies who have been extremely good sleepers.

Also ‘listen’ to your baby if they are screaming and obviously tired and hungry half and hour before you start your bedtime routine, try starting it half an hour earlier.  Babies who get overtired can find it difficult to get themselves to sleep quickly.

All babies are different and as many parents of twins will tell you one often sleeps better than the other and they have used the same techniques with both of them

4) Can my child sleep with a teddy or comforter from birth?

No, your baby shouldn’t sleep with any kind of teddy or comforter in their cot / moses basket until they are 3 months old.

5) Can my baby sleep with a dummy?

Yes, your baby can sleep with a dummy and some research has shown it can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.  Once your baby falls asleep the dummy will fall out.  Please don’t use any kind of cord to attach the dummy to your baby though as these can be dangerous.

6) Should I cover my baby with blankets at bedtime?

Your baby is safest in a swaddle or a sleeping bag so they have no chance of loose covers coming up over their heads.  If your baby is too small to fit into a sleeping bag however, or the weather is very cold make sure that the blanket is tucked snuggly on both sides of the cot / moses basket and around the foot end.

7) How do I know if my baby is too cold or too hot at night?

When you check on your baby if they are sweating or their chest feels hot then you need to remove some bedclothes.  If their hands are cool this is fine and doesn’t mean that they are cold.

8) Should I have a room thermometer? What temperature should my baby’s room be at night?

Yes, you should have a thermometer in whichever room the baby sleeps in.  The idea temperature range is 16-20 degrees C.  I prefer the cooler side as it’s easier to put another layer on the baby than to cool down a room that’s too hot.

9) Should I stay in the room with my baby while they sleep?

Current guidelines for the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome state that your baby should sleep in the room with you at night until they are 6 months old.  During daytime naps however you are fine to put your baby to sleep in the nursery as long as you have a monitor on so you can here them if they cry.

10) If my baby cries in his sleep should I pick him up?

No, your baby may well cry out one or twice whilst asleep but still be fast asleep.  Also when a baby starts to get restless and you think they are ready for a feed just wait and see as it might be the end of a sleep cycle and baby is just resettle itself for another sleep cycle before the next feeding.

11) Why won’t my baby stop crying at night time?

If your baby is crying through the night and seems hungrier than usual this could be a growth spurt.  Classically, growth spurts come at around 3 weeks, 6weeks, 3 months and 6 months of age and are generally over in a couple of days.

If your baby’s crying continues past a few days you may be dealing with Colic.  We do not know what causes Colic or sadly how to cure it, although there are over the counter products to help with baby wind pain which may be useful.  It usually develops in the first few weeks and is generally gone by 4 months.  It is best to check with your GP or Midwife to rule out reflux and other medical problems.

12) What are the most common sleep problems to look out for at this age?

Waking too early in the morning, 6am is the earliest I will recognise as morning for infant waking.  Other problems to look out for include regular waking in the night and having difficulty falling asleep.

13) What’s the most common question you’re asked about sleeping?

When will my baby sleep through the night?

Mary Ashton

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About The Author

Mary Ashton
Maternity Nurse

Mary Ashton currently works as a Maternity Nurse mostly in London but she has also worked throughout the UK, Europe and the United States of America. Mary has developed a specific interest in multiple birth children through her work although she is just as happy to care for single babies. Mary derives great joy from her work enabling parents to get some much needed rest and enjoy the precious first weeks with their little ones.

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