12 smart ways to get your baby to sleep

Need some fresh ideas? Our bubba bed­time hacks and ex­pert tips could be just what you need

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Contents -

Ex­pert tips for bliss­ful bed­times

FOR NEW­BORNS

Try the mod­ern swad­dle. Safe sleep­ing ex­perts at Red Nose (pre­vi­ously SIDS and Kids) rec­om­mend a sleep­ing bag with a fit­ted neck and arm­holes. The Gro Com­pany 'Boats' Orla Kiely travel Grobag, from $64.95

CLUS­TER BREAST­FEED

Breast-fed ba­bies can often sleep bet­ter. “In the lat­ter part of the day, breast­milk con­tains high lev­els of the hor­mone tryp­to­phan,” says An­drea Grace, a chil­dren’s sleep spe­cial­ist. ”Tryp­to­phan aids the pro­duc­tion of the sleep hor­mone mela­tonin. Mums who breast­feed should clus­ter feed in the run-up to bed­time, to fill baby up and en­cour­age the pro­duc­tion of sleep hor­mones.”

HOLD HIM A NEW WAY

Sleep con­sul­tant Tina South­wood rec­om­mends the ‘tiger in the tree’ hold, where you lay your baby on her tummy along your fore­arm (with your palm fac­ing up­ward), so that her chin is rest­ing in the crook of your arm. “I do this on my left side, so my right hand is free to stroke her back,” she says. “Colicky ba­bies re­ally like this but all ba­bies seem to find it sooth­ing and many fall asleep quickly in this po­si­tion.”

BACK­GROUND NOISE IS OKAY

“In my ex­pe­ri­ence, light and noise doesn’t bother new­born ba­bies that much,” says Tina. “It’s at around four to six weeks of age that those things start to make a dif­fer­ence. New­born ba­bies can sleep through any­thing, so don’t worry too much about other chil­dren play­ing or peo­ple ring­ing the door­bell.”

GIVE WHITE NOISE A GO

“Ewan the Dream Sheep is amaz­ing, but you need to use him from quite early on,” says Tina. This cute lit­tle fel­low plays ac­tual record­ings of heart­beats and noises that bubs hear in the womb and can be hung next to the cot. Sweet Dream­ers Ewan the Dream Sheep, $69.95

LEARN TO NOSE STROKE

“Try hold­ing him close and stroking gen­tly from his fore­head down to his nose," says Lisa Clegg, au­thor of The Bliss­ful Baby

Ex­pert ($29.95, Ver­mil­ion). “This gen­er­ally gets him to close his eyes but if he doesn’t, I’d gen­tly cover his eyes with my fingers.”

FROM 3 MONTHS TRY BABY WHIS­PER­ING

“Whis­per ‘I want you to go to sleep now’ in baby’s ear when you are about to put him down,” says early child­hood nurse Claire Read. “Al­though they won’t un­der­stand it at first, it’s amaz­ing what ba­bies do un­der­stand and they will soon as­so­ciate these words with bed­time.”

DOWN­LOAD AN APP

So, your baby is wak­ing up more often at 12 weeks than six? Don’t panic. “It may be due to teething, a cold, want­ing to prac­tise a new skill or a de­vel­op­men­tal burst,” says

Mums who breast­feed should clus­ter feed in the run-up to bed­time, to fill baby up and en­cour­age the pro­duc­tion of sleep hor­mones.

Dr Emma Svan­berg, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist who spe­cialises in mums and bubs. “The Won­der Weeks app (iTunes and Google Play, $1.99) is great to pre­pare your­self for sleep­less and fussy pe­ri­ods.” It's a cal­en­dar that helps you track your baby's men­tal de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing times of rapid growth, which can af­fect sleep, ap­petite, cling­ness and crank­i­ness.

READ THEM THE SAME BOOK

Yep, even if it drives you crazy. “When you take the baby into where they are go­ing to sleep, it pays to read the same book ev­ery night,” says Claire. “It be­comes part of the rou­tine and he knows what is go­ing to hap­pen next.”

BE SCREEN AWARE

“A study fol­low­ing more than 1800 chil­dren from six months to nearly age eight, found a small but con­sis­tent as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween TV view­ing and shorter sleep du­ra­tion, even if the child isn’t watch­ing the screen but is just in the same room,” says Emma. So, if you’re about to re­lax with a box set and your baby is close by in his bassinet, it might be time for a re­think.

FROM 6 MONTHS LEAVE THE ROOM

It helps if your baby learns to fall asleep with­out hav­ing you in the room. “Ba­bies wake up nat­u­rally ev­ery hour and a half or so. If you are next to your baby as he falls asleep, he will ex­pect you to still be there when he wakes up later,” says An­drea.

IS HE CRY­ING FOR A REA­SON?

“A baby cries when he needs at­ten­tion," says Emma. “Con­trolled cry­ing may teach your child to go to sleep alone, but he may not have learned to soothe him­self. He has sim­ply learned to stop ask­ing for at­ten­tion.”

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