Sleep is a valuable commodity as a parent, and getting your baby to sleep through the night is an art that some find harder to master than others. In fact, 17% of babies wake up more than once a night. However, achieving that restless night’s sleep isn’t rocket science, nor is it impossible for some babies and tots. It simply takes patience, time and a little trial and error.
To help you get to grips with baby sleep pattern, we’ve compiled a handy guide that explores the topic in more detail:
Is sleep training recommended?
Sleep deprivation is extremely common amongst parents – and not just new mums and dads. According to Netmums and The Children’s Sleep Charity, it affects 35% of parents; over half of those surveyed said their children wake at least once during the night.
But is it right to train your baby’s natural sleep patterns? This depends entirely on the age of the baby and your technique. It’s important to note that a child’s sleep cycle is much shorter than an adult’s. So rather than trying to encourage your baby to sleep through the night, it’s better to aim for consistency.
During the first six months, infants rarely have a sleeping pattern. However, if your child still hasn’t developed a routine after this point, it might be time to evaluate the routine. The aim here is twofold: to reduce the number of times your baby wakes up, and encourage them to return to sleep when they do.
Bedtime often comes with tears and knowing whether to pander to crying or not is a common quandary faced by parents. While the ‘cry it out’ technique is generally not recommended, as it raises your baby’s levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), there are several steps you can take to promote a quiet night’s rest.
Let us explore just a few of these techniques:
Develop a routine
The key to sleeping through the night is consistency. Life may seem a little chaotic as a parent, especially when settling in with your newborn, but it’s vital to develop a sense of routine as early as you can.
Set a bedtime for your baby and, where possible, stick to it. Establish an order for those nursery duties leading up to lights out, so that your baby can learn to recognise the signals that it’s nearly time for sleep. In doing so, you’ll find it much easier to settle down on an evening.
Create a calm environment
Rest is just as important as sleep for those growing little bodies, so create an environment where your baby can settle down into slumber before it’s time for bed. Dim the lighting, switch on the cot mobile, and keep pets and siblings clear of the nursery, so you can encourage a sense of fatigue to swoop over your baby.
Cuddling and feeding your child before bed is a natural instinct, and can help to calm your baby in those hours and minutes prior to sleep. If your baby is crying out for attention from their crib, leave a short interval to see if the moment will pass, before going to soothe them into a more relaxed state of mind.
Take your time
Rushing your baby from bottle, to bath, to bed is hardly going to leave them feeling calm and sleepy. Stress and anxiety will only rub off on your child and make a sound night’s sleep less likely.
Make sure you are relaxed and at ease on a night. Take your time going through the motions, so that you can treasure those bath time moments and give your baby the space they need to lull into sleep.
Meanwhile, when your baby wakes up in the night, ensure they get the attention they need. You’ll soon get a feel for whether they’re hot, cold, hungry or lonely – so don’t rush those midnight feeds and cuddles. Most of all, it’s critical you place them back in their own crib when they are settled.
Understand your baby
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for your little one’s sleep routine. So pick up on the body language and reactions of your baby:
Do they respond well to rocking and singing, or do they tend to nod off when left to calm down in their crib? Do they thrive on afternoon naps, or perhaps these distract from a full night’s rest? Is their diet affecting their sleep patterns, and if so how?
By getting a feel for what works and what doesn’t, you can begin to develop an understanding with your baby, to adapt to their body clock and make those night-time routines come naturally. While you’re unlikely to find a silver bullet to the solution, you should be able to encourage a more restful night for all.
Practice makes perfect where parenting is concerned, and the satisfaction that comes from a sound night’s sleep is hard to beat. Give these expert tips a go to lull your baby or tot into a peaceful slumber, and you’ll soon begin to see that bedtime routine as child’s play.
Struggling to establish a routine with your baby? Our sleep consultants/ night nannies are here to help, support and guide on the approach that works for you and your family because no two babies are the same. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01925 768188 today.