Sleep, or the lack of it, is one of the most widely written about and discussed topic within the range of baby care issues.
“How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?” is the most commonly asked question and sought-after solution among all those who are preparing for or have reached parenthood.
The following super seven are just the tip of the iceberg but will help your baby establish healthy and positive associations to bedtime and sleep.
- All babies learn by association. It is therefore important from Day 1 that your baby learns the right associations. Learning how to associate the differences between night and day, feeding and cuddling, playing and sleeping is essential. Babies are not born with negative sleep associations – they only learn and adopt the bad habits we teach them!
- Many parents are misled into thinking that if the baby has less sleep during the day he will sleep better at night. This is simply not the case – actually the opposite will occur, resulting in an overtired baby being unable to feed, settle or sleep properly at all. Remember – Sleep breeds sleep!
- By establishing my plan [as set out in my book, the Sensational Baby Sleep Plan] within the first few weeks of life, your baby will quickly begin to understand and accept the daily sequence of events with regard to his feed and sleep times. For example, following the same pattern of bath, feed, bed at the end of the day becomes a clear signal that sleepy-time is approaching and going to bed will become a regular part of life that your baby accepts as normal.
- Differentiating between day and night from as early as possible is vital in establishing good sleep patterns for your baby. It can be useful to ensure that the nursery is reasonably dark throughout the night. Always wake your baby to stay on track with the feeding schedule during the day, but leave him to sleep through the night only feeding when he wakes and genuinely needs a feed. I never wake a sleeping baby at night unless there is a medical reason to do so! After all, babies need to learn to eat during the day and sleep during the night – just as we do!
- Fostering independent sleep habits in your baby from the start will help promote positive associations to sleep. Your baby needs to learn to self settle and soothe and be able to fall asleep in his own cot without the need of any comforter such as a dummy, falling asleep whilst feeding, being rocked to sleep etc etc. Putting him down when still awake and allowing him to fall asleep unaided helps teach him the art of independent sleep.
- Do resist the temptation to fill your baby’s cot with stimulating toys and mobiles, this is her bed and should therefore be a calm, peaceful place in which to sleep (not play!).
- I do recommend the use of an under mattress breathing and movement sensor as these monitor your baby’s movements and sound an alarm if his breathing dips to unacceptable level or stops completely, thus alerting you in time to avoid a possible cot death. This gives a big piece of mind for a relatively small investment.