Any new parents will know, there is so much advice out there about where, how, how long and how often little ones should sleep. I’m here to reassure you that every baby is different and to share my top tips on how to get a baby to sleep, helping you through all the parenting trials and tribulations.
1. Establishing a baby sleep routine
Start trying to create a rough routine whenever you feel confident enough (but don’t be too hard on yourself!). You will feel much more relaxed, empowered and prepared if you have a routine in place.
However, you must be wondering how to get a baby into a sleep routine? An easy way to start adding elements of a routine into your day is to start at bedtime. Allocating time to wind down after a busy day is important for all the family. Winding down can include listening to some calming music or asking your home devices to play a Lullaby Playlist.
There is no need to bath your baby everyday but it is a great way to let your little one know that sleep time is approaching. After bathing, give them a gentle baby massage using grape seed oil or similar, this will relax your baby and help to calm them. Then dress them ready for bed. Using a swaddle or their Baby Sleep Bag will help them feel cosy (I recommend the Purflo Baby Sleep Bag with removable sleeves for all year round usage).
2. Identifying sleep triggers
Similar to creating a routine, babies need to have triggers to help them understand it’s time for sleep. Babies’ sleep triggers are darkness, consistent soothing noises - like white noise and their swaddle or sleeping bag. Blackout blinds are great for getting the room ready for sleep time and helps produce the ‘sleepy hormone’ – melatonin - and this gets more important as they grow. Soothing sounds like white noise, waves or womb noises for younger babies, give your little one the sensation of being in the womb helping them feel safe and relaxed.
Using the same familiar things can help your little one associate them with sleepy time. For example, using the same comforter for sleeping can help your little one catch on to their sleep time routine quicker. An extra top tip is to put the comforter down your top for a while before they go to sleep so it smells like you. From around four months old babies will also start to respond to having a story read to them so this is a nice way to calm things down before sleep.
3. Creating a baby nap time schedule
When you’re ready to start creating a regular nap time, start by making a note of your little one’s sleeping times during the day. This can help you understand roughly when they get sleepy and give you a little more clarity on when to feed, change, play etc. around those times. Regular nap time routines can take a couple of weeks to develop so don’t worry if it seems impossible at first!
Signs your baby is tired will include yawning, rubbing their eyes and ears and getting grizzly. You can start introducing their sleep triggers as mentioned earlier to help settle them faster and give them reassurance. If they don’t go to sleep straight away, don’t panic, a slight adjustment in timings may be needed - I suggest moving it to 15 minutes later. Try sticking to your new schedule for a week and patterns will emerge, showing you when you might need to alter timings. As your baby grows, nap times will continue to move forward as your little one will be able to stay awake for longer as they move through different phases.
Jo Tantum – Paediatric Sleep Consultant and Baby Sleep Expert for Purflo. Jo has over 30 years’ experience working with babies and parents worldwide and has worked with big brands such as Pampers, Classic FM, John Lewis and much more.