In your pre-baby life, when you were tired, you prioritised the things you needed to ensure a good night’s sleep: no caffeine after 3pm, no screens after 9pm, comfy PJs, a story from the Calm app, etc. Post-baby, all you need for sleep, is for your baby to sleep, but now they need some help getting it.
There’s a thriving industry built on the slumped shoulders of sleep-deprived new parents, but most baby whisperers recommend the same thing: routine, a sleep-promoting environment and something between leaving them to cry themselves out or letting them sleep on you until they’re three. That last part is your own ship to sail, but as for the environment and routine, we’ve got what you need.
Top Tips for Baby Sleep:
- Establish a baby sleep routine
- Give your baby a bath
- Swaddle your newborn
- Set the scene with a bedtime story
- Use a blackout blind or shusher
- Invest in a comforter toy
Baby Sleep Routine
A post-bath massage, bedtime story or song, whatever you want to bring to the bedtime routine is up to you. As long as it’s going to help your baby unwind and you can repeat it nightly so that they recognise it’s bedtime, it’s a good idea. There is no “correct” order to do things in, do what feels natural. For some parents, bedtime is a militant exercise, timed to the minute and executed in exactly the same way every night. Same order, same book, same song - even the goodnight kiss has to land on the baby’s head at the right time - but for others it’s a looser run sheet. Whatever your style, find what gets your baby to sleep the soundest, and stick to it.
Wash away the day
Warm water, soft lighting, a fun yellow duck telling you “the water’s fine!” ... works for you and it works for your baby. The experts say that starting your baby’s wind-down time with a bath teaches them a skill for life: how to relax. When they are older it will become something they can rely on for reducing stress. Newborns can enjoy five to 10 minutes in a bath, while older babies might like to be in longer to soak and play. Raising Children has great information on bath safety (so you can feel relaxed too).
Dressing your newborn can feel like a minefield, but once you get the hang of it, commonsense applies: dress them in as many layers as you would dress yourself. On warm nights, a cotton singlet under a 1.0 TOG sleep suit is ideal. Adult translation: cotton PJs and a light blanket. In winter, add an easy zipsuit over their singlet, (like your own flannelette PJs) and a higher TOG suit (like a heavier blanket for you). Whatever they’re wearing, make sure there are no tags or fasteners that could irritate or wake them up.