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Babies 0-12 Months | Your Baby's Wellbeing

Out for the Count – 11 Tips for getting your baby to sleep through the night

Dream on, baby.
Tried and tested ways to get your child to sleep through the night.

Babies are wonderful creatures. We adore them. But let’s be honest: they come with their challenges. Of these, nighttime waking has to be the one that parents are most desperate to overcome.

Parenting a baby who resists falling asleep or who wakes up constantly during the night (usually with a decidedly grumpy disposition) is a tough business, usually resulting in very cranky, sleep-deprived moms and dads.

So the million dollar question is: how do I get my baby to go to sleep and stay asleep?

Well, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that there are hundreds of sleep experts out there who have loads of advice for exhausted parents of little night owls. The bad news is that not every baby responds to every technique.

There are two very distinct schools of thought when it comes to babies and their 40 winks. On the extreme left, we have proponents of the ‘crying it out’ method. And on the extreme right, we have campaigners for the ‘nurturing to sleep’ method. It’s a controversial subject and, again, it is a personal choice for every family.

Still, there are some golden rules that most experts agree on. We’ve dug deep, done our research, added our two cents’ worth and would love to share our 11 tips for getting your baby to sleep through the night.

Before you read on, just remember

  • Be patient. The magic probably won’t happen overnight
  • Be flexible. Every baby is different, so try various approaches and see what works best
  • Be ready to sleep when baby sleeps. Grab every opportunity to drift off into dreamland
  • Be realistic. Newborns typically sleep for two hours at a time, 3-month-olds for 5 hours and 9-month-olds for 9-12 hour stretches. Don’t expect the impossible!
  • Be confident as a parent. As Dr Sears says: “Your baby’s sleep habits are more a reflection of your baby’s temperament than your style of nighttime parenting.”

And  now…

Introducing our top tips:

1. Offer every possible home comfort

Start with warm sheets, comfy sleepwear and a pleasant and consistent room temperature. Then give him his favourite mommy-scented teddy bear or light blankie to snuggle with.

2. Remove all possible discomforts

Make sure that baby’s nose is unblocked, that he’s wearing a fresh nappy and that he isn’t put to bed in pyjamas made from synthetic fabric. Don’t expose him to airborne irritants such as cigarette smoke or aerosol spray.

3. Distinguish night from day

Make sure that daytime is vibey, active and stimulating and that nighttime is calm and relaxed. Keep baby in brightly lit rooms when napping during the day so as to prevent him from oversleeping.

4. Give sleep aids a go

Clever gadgets that mimic the sound of the ocean or rainforest have soared in popularity and may just be the ticket to peaceful sleep. White noise such as the sound of a fan is said to work too.

5. Establish a consistent bedtime routine

Follow the same rituals every night – this programs baby to know bedtime is coming up. A warm bath, dim lighting and a lullaby at the same time every night will be his cue to sleep.

6. Let Daddy have a turn

Sharing nighttime duties not only gives both parents the chance to catch up on much-needed sleep but also prevents baby from associating sleep with just one person.

7. Avoid overtiredness

Overtired babies are cranky and don’t settle easily. Overcome this by bringing bedtime forward a bit, and making sure that baby has regular short naps during the day.

8. Perfect your massage technique

Research shows that baby massage is really beneficial – helping baby relax and sleep better as well as easing the symptoms of colic and infant acid reflux. Go on a short course with Dad, and massage the problem away.

9. Go old school

When all else fails, walk your baby in a dimly lit room, cuddle him in a rocking chair, read him a story or sing to him. High-need babies respond particularly well to a nurturing approach.

10. Teach your baby how to put himself to sleep

First prize is to teach him to settle himself should he awaken during the night. This may involve letting him cry it out for a few nights, which will be hard on both of you, but many experts believe that it’s the only way forward.

11. Have baby sleep next to you

In the other camp, some experts believe that nothing helps a baby thrive more than close contact with parents – day and night. If you don’t have a problem with the idea, try it: you may be on to a winner.

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