Baby settling & sleep tips

Having trouble getting your baby to settle or to sleep? Many parents struggle with a sleepless baby so you’re not alone. The settling and sleeping will get easier, but in the meantime check out these helpful tips to make this frustrating time a little easier.
Having trouble getting your baby to settle or to sleep?

Many parents struggle with a sleepless baby so you’re not alone.

The settling and sleeping will get easier, but in the meantime check out these helpful tips to make this frustrating time a little easier.

Baby settling & sleep tips


1. In the beginning

  • For the first few months try to go with the flow with sleep and settling, and do almost whatever it takes to get your baby to sleep.
  • Just bear in mind that it is not recommended to expect a baby to follow a routine before 3 or 4 months of age. It's far more important in the early days that you and your baby are well rested.
  • Being a new parent is exhausting, and you need to be able to rest when your baby is sleeping. There are some babies who will only ever sleep for one sleep cycle (20-45 minutes), regardless of what you do!

2. Recognise your baby's tired signs early

  • If you try to recognise your baby’s tired on as early as early as possible, it will help avoid your baby getting over-tired.
  • Tired babies may yawn, get twitchy legs and arm movements or get a glazed or staring look. If these cues are missed they will begin to grizzle and by this stage they are getting too tired to settle easily.
  • Newborn babies often root around and act the same as they would if they were hungry when they are tired. This can be very confusing for new parents.
  • They can also make a lot of noise winding down to sleep, unless they are howling, let them be, they may well just be heading off to sleep. If they need help to get off to sleep, try one (or more) of the techniques below.

3. Use the Feed, Awake Time, Sleep pattern if possible

  • The Feed, Awake Time & Sleep pattern helps reduce any confusion.
  • Your baby is awake and you know they are well fed, so when they start to cry or become agitated it is likely they are tired rather than hungry again or possibly need their nappy changing.
  • Start looking for tired signs when a newborn baby has been awake for only 45 minutes, an hour awake is usually plenty at this age.

4. A baby that sleeps plenty in the day will sleep better at night

  • Try to ensure that your baby gets plenty of sleep throughout the day.
  • It is not recommended to limit your baby's day sleeps until they are closer to two years old.
  • Prior to that age, limiting their sleep is counter-productive. Your baby will be over tired and very difficult to settle or keep asleep at night.

5. Replicating the womb environment

  • Replicating the womb environment works wonders as it triggers a powerful response inside babies’ brains that turns off their crying. Techniques include:
  • This is simply wrapping a baby securely. This is the cornerstone to settling a newborn. Use a large, good quality wrap at least 120 x120cm for the most effect.
White noise
  • In the womb babies are exposed to a constant noise of 80-90 decibels - equivalent to the sound of a vacuum. Make your own white noise by either 'shhhhhing' very loudly, playing a white noise CD on repeat, running a fan, a vacuum cleaner or shower.
  • For 9 months babies have been jiggled around inside you and find it almost unsettling when they are required to lay down still once they’re born. Create movement for them by giving them a dancing or jiggling cuddle, putting them into a sling carrier or hammock, a pushchair or take them on a car ride. Your movements should be very gentle. Never ever shake your baby.
  • Sucking through breastfeeding, sucking their thumbs, fingers or dummies helps release natural calming chemicals in your baby's brain. This technique is also very effective for colicky babies.
Side/stomach position
  • Putting a fussy baby down on their back or holding them laying on their back makes them feel like they’re falling, setting off a startle which could lead to more crying. Hold your baby on their side or in the stomach position whilst they’re in your arms, on your lap, on your chest or in their bed whilst being patted. Do not leave your baby lying on their side or stomach once they’re sleeping. Roll them onto their back once they are calm. Never place a swaddled baby on their stomach lying down.
Dark room
  • Bright lights are stimulating for a baby’s brain, dim the lights to settle and let them sleep in the dark. Keep the room as dark as possible during night feeds and avoid eye contact or talking with them at this time. It will help them recognise night time is for sleeping rather than for playing or being social.

6. Other sleep & settling tips

  • Ensure your baby is sleeping safely for EVERY sleep. This includes each nap in your arms, in the car or when they fall asleep playing or on the couch.
  • Babies and toddlers who have a bath and a massage before bed, fall asleep faster than those who are only read a story. So break out the baby-safe oil and rub them down using soft strokes and moderate pressure.
  • Babies who are usually good sleepers go through phases of not settling as well. This may just be a growth spurt in which they need to feed more frequently. These only last 1 - 2 days.
  • If your baby has been unwell with a cold in the last week it might be good to get their ears and throat checked by a doctor. These are often more painful with the increase in pressure when they lie down and makes babies very difficult to settle.
  • If a baby's crying is getting too much for you, put them down somewhere safe and go outside for 2-3 minutes to take a few deep breaths. Go back to the baby and try to resettle them calmly. Remember - it is just a phase!

More babies & kids sleep articles to enjoy: Source: Iti Baby - Pure, Simple, Gentle

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