YOUR HAPPY BED­TIME PLAN

Try our five key tac­tics to help your lit­tle one – and your­self – have a rest­ful night

Pregnancy Life & Style - - CONTENTS -

Five key tac­tics for a rest­ful slum­ber

Wor­ried that you’ll never get a proper night’s sleep again? Don’t de­spair. Whether the idea of your new­born ‘sleep­ing through’ is a dis­tant dream or you’re won­der­ing why your child hasn’t yet reached this mag­i­cal mile­stone, we’ve put to­gether a five-step plan on how to get there.

Teach him TO SLEEP IN HIS COT

WHY IS IT IM­POR­TANT? Get­ting to sleep on his own is a learned skill for a baby, and an im­por­tant break­through. You may need to rock or soothe him when he’s tiny. We all sleep in ‘cy­cles’, mov­ing be­tween deep and light sleep

– a new­born’s sleep cy­cle is about 40 min­utes. If your lit­tle one isn’t able to sink back into a rest­ful slum­ber ev­ery time he reaches the end of a cy­cle, you’ll both have an in­ter­rupted night.

WHEN CAN I START? Get your baby used to be­ing in his cot from day one, to help him feel se­cure enough to drift off on his own when he’s in there. As he grows older (about three months) he will start to as­so­ciate his cot with sleep­ing.

HOW DO I DO IT? Put bub in his cot as he’s drop­ping off af­ter a feed or if he is show­ing signs of tired­ness, so he can learn this is where he sleeps – but don’t go away. Marie Clif­ford, for­mer nurse man­ager at Tre­sil­lian, ad­vises you re­main near your baby.

“For the first three months, stay with your baby and be soft, gen­tle and repet­i­tive as you set­tle him,” Marie says. If you feel he’s not too up­set, you can try leav­ing bub to set­tle alone. “But if, at any time, you feel your baby is dis­tressed, go in and re­as­sure him, again be­ing soft, gen­tle and repet­i­tive,” she says.

Start a BED­TIME ROU­TINE

WHY IS IT IM­POR­TANT? A reg­u­lar rou­tine sig­nals to your baby that it’s bed­time and helps him wind down.

WHEN CAN I START? By about eight to 10 weeks, bub should know the dif­fer­ence be­tween day and night. Research shows it’s around this time that a baby starts pro­duc­ing enough mela­tonin (the hor­mone that in­duces sleep) to in­flu­ence him. From around three months, ba­bies are more aware of what is go­ing on around them, and this is when sleep as­so­ci­a­tions can be es­tab­lished. So set up a rou­tine that leads to a 7pm bed­time, and seize back the evenings for you and your part­ner.

HOW DO I DO IT? Al­low enough time be­fore 7pm for a gen­tle mas­sage and a warm bath. Dress him in py­ja­mas and read or sing to him, then darken the room, give him a feed and put him in the cot.

Get nap SAVVY

WHY IS IT IM­POR­TANT? As your baby gets older, he’ll need fewer day­time naps. Re­duc­ing these should en­sure he’s ful­fill­ing his sleep quota by sleep­ing through the night. Once he’s old enough to only need a cou­ple of hours’ sleep dur­ing the day, aim for one long day­time nap. Day sleeps en­cour­age bet­ter night sleep­ing and are nec­es­sary un­til the age of about three.

WHEN CAN I START? He’ll start stay­ing awake for longer pe­ri­ods be­tween feeds – signs he’s mov­ing to one lunchtime nap, at around 12 months old. If he won’t set­tle for his morn­ing nap or is re­sist­ing a sec­ond sleep in the af­ter­noon, he could be ready.

HOW DO I DO IT? Have an ac­tive morn­ing, an early lunch at about 11.30am and put him to bed by mid­day.

Re­duce NIGHT FEEDS

WHY IS IT IM­POR­TANT? It will get your baby used to tak­ing enough milk to keep him sat­is­fied and en­cour­age him to sleep for longer stretches.

WHEN CAN I START? Small ba­bies have small tum­mies that need re­fill­ing overnight, but by three to four months some bubs need only one night feed. Your baby will need to be ca­pa­ble of tak­ing on enough milk dur­ing the day to help him last sev­eral hours at night.

HOW DO I DO IT? If your baby feeds well dur­ing the day, is gain­ing weight and is healthy, you don’t need to wake him for a night feed. Or of­fer a ‘dream feed’ at about 10.30pm, which may help him make it through to the morn­ing. The idea is not to fully wake your baby, so keep the lights off and be quiet and gen­tle. His nat­u­ral re­flexes should al­low him to feed while he’s still half-asleep and to set­tle quickly af­ter­wards.

Break the NIGHT HABIT

WHY IS IT IM­POR­TANT? Sleep­ing through the night is restora­tive and al­lows your baby to rest fully af­ter his busy, ad­ven­ture-filled days.

WHEN CAN I START? The mag­i­cal mile­stone of a solid night’s sleep can come and go, but you may see it be­fore his first birth­day. From around six months of age, a healthy de­vel­op­ing baby no longer needs a night feed.

HOW DO I DO IT? A six-month-old bub could be wak­ing for a small feed from habit. If he’s at the right weight and is tak­ing enough solids, en­cour­age him to self-set­tle. Visit Tre­sil­lian for tech­niques at www.tre­sil­lian.org.au.

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