I saw the amazing Jo Tantum at The Baby Show a couple of weeks ago, and sat through her fascinating talk on babies and sleep. We asked Jo to put together a concise top ten tips that will help you get your baby to sleep, and here they are:
1. In the day look for your baby’s tired signs, which can be yawning, rubbing eyes and ears, staring into space and with new-borns rooting for a feed. Then write down the times tour baby has a nap, then your baby won’t be overtired.
2. Help your baby learn how to fall asleep without a sleep prop, as this will interfere with their sleep. Sleep props can be feeding, rocking, patting, prams and car seats.
3. Babies work on a natural sleep cycle of 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. So make sure your baby is going to bed, 12 hours from waking, otherwise they will be overtired.
4. Babies who don’t have enough naps in the day will wake often in the night and be awake for up to an hour at a time. At 3 months they need a nap every 1 1/2 hours from waking. And at 6 months every 2 hours.
5. A dream feed can really help a baby to start sleeping longer stretches at night. Babies can only sleep one long stretch per 24 hours so it makes sense if it’s when you’re having your long stretch 11-7pm. Lift your baby, change their nappy, and feed, then resettle.
6. Babies have a light sleep around 5-6am, so encourage them to go back to sleep. Treat it as night time. So no noise, talking, lights, nappy change or feeds. They will soon start sleeping longer.
7. Having a good bedtime routine is proven to help babies settle better at night. So for an hour before bedtime, have a quiet time without noisy toys, TV or screens. Then have a nappy off time – 6 weeks to 6 months. Then a bath, massage and into pyjamas. Make sure the room is dimly lit, with soothing sounds. Then feed.
8. Your baby needs to have several triggers before going to sleep. I suggest blackout, wave sounds, a comforter, Swaddle or sleeping bag and a story. Once your baby has these things they will sleep anywhere; on holiday, at Grandparents and friends.
9. From 4 months old babies love to grab and hold things, because they are just realising that their hands belong to them. So having a comforter can really help them settle for nap times and in the night. I always use a muslin square as this is the lightest material you can get and is breathable. Knot it in the middle, so it’s safe. You can also put it down your top before you give it to your baby, so it smells of you, as it will comfort them.
10. Use blackout for naps as well as early mornings. Blackouts help a baby to de-stimulate and calm. They don’t understand they need to close their eyes to shut out the light like we do. Use blackout for naps in the pram and at home. Then your baby will sleep better.
This May Jo Tantum will be speaking at The Baby Show taking place at Birmingham NEC from 15th-17th May.