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
Expert tips for blissful bedtimes
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
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.”