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Forget pacing the floor in the small hours – our top baby bedtime tips will help you all get more sleep
Your newborn may sleep up to a whopping 18 hours out of 24, but frazzled new parents certainly don’t. While a full night’s sleep is out of reach, you can grab more of that desperately needed shut-eye. Just try these clever baby sleep tactics.
Teach baby to settle themselves
If you usually rock or feed your baby to sleep, there’s a high chance your tot will start to depend on it, and you’ll be compelled to jiggle or feed before every single nap. To get babies into good sleeping habits, pop them down when they’re drowsy but still awake so they can get used to settling themselves and falling asleep without your input.
Swap silence for sound
If you’ve been shushing everyone at baby’s bedtime and tip-toeing around the house, stop now. Noises such as your heartbeat, voice and tummy gurgles all calmed your baby for nine months at lawnmower-level volume!
Try soothing your little one to sleep with the reassuring noise of a fan, gentle cot mobile or a white-noise app. It might sound strange to you, but your baby will thank you for it! Studies show one in four parents have used hairdryer and vacuum cleaner noise to get their baby to sleep.
Establish a bedtime routine
It may be hard to believe when they’re tiny, but babies relish routine and ritual. Having things happen in the same order at the same time every night is reassuring and helps them nod off quicker. A three-step bedtime consists of:
• A warm bath
• Gentle massage
• Quiet activities such as a story or lullaby
Research shows that when parents followed this routine, babies slept better, woke up less and were less fretful in the day. The great news is, it’s never too late to establish a bedtime routine – the key is to be consistent and stick at it for at least seven to 10 days.
Set the scene for sleeping through
• Make night-time feeds quiet and calm, and save your chit-chat for the daytime. This will help set your baby’s body clock by teaching them the difference between day and night
• Use lined curtains or blackout blinds to create a dark, peaceful environment
• Spritz a relaxing scent around the bedroom. This essential oil can encourage your baby to wind down and... wait for it... sleep
End early wakings
Treat 5am as the middle of the night. Your baby can’t tell the time – it’s about how you respond to it. If you’ve got the TV on while you’re feeding before sunrise, your baby will learn 5am is morning.
Keep it quiet and maintain total blackout – studies show that if light hits the retina for more than two minutes, the brain is switched on and fully functioning. Also beware of clocks and video monitors that cast a disruptive blue light over the cot. Calm your baby down with gentle rhythmic patting, a cuddle or a soother, then lay them down to sleep.
Try a soother to stretch out sleep
Some babies are simply more ‘sucky’ than others. A soother (dummy) can give you a break, comfort a baby who is distressed, and stretch the intervals between feeds in the night. As long as you don’t let your baby fall asleep with the soother in their mouth – and use it as a last (rather than a first) resort – then it can help an exhausted parent.