How to get your baby to sleep
Every baby is different, even yours. So here’s what the experts say about sleep.
Tips for mums
Try to feed, wind and change baby before putting them down
Let your baby get used to night and day gradually
And for the other half…
Mum needs sleep, offer to do night feeds if baby is bottle-fed
Try introducing a relaxing bedtime routine in the evening
Babies have it easy! They sleep most of the day. But exactly how much and how often they wake up differs from baby to baby. One thing that is almost certain, is that your baby’s sleep patterns will be very different to yours. So creating a baby sleep routine is important to help everyone get the rest they need.
Helping your baby sleep in three steps
Step 1 - Daytime activities
- Playing, singing and laughing with your baby during the day makes them more tired at bedtime.
- Whenever possible give your baby the chance to fall asleep on their own. If you feed or rock your baby to sleep during the day, they’ll expect the same service at night.
- Look out for signs that your baby is sleepy: yawning, stretching or rubbing their eyes and ears. Losing interest in toys or people is another clue that someone needs a nap.
Step 2 – Getting baby into a sleep routine
- A fed, burped and dry baby will probably be more comfortable when put down to sleep.
- At around three months old, the HSE suggest introducing baby’s sleep routine of calming activities.
- Baths, stories and cuddles help baby learn it’s time to sleep.
- Studies show that rhythmic noises can calm babies and put them to sleep. There’s plenty of ‘Sleep’ or ‘White Noise’ apps. Like this one.
Step 3 – Getting baby back to sleep
- When baby wakes during the night, keep stimulation to a minimum and the lights low.
- It's good to let your baby get used to sleeping through a certain amount of noise, so it’s ok if you can’t tip-toe everywhere!
- Learn to recognise the signs that your baby is sleepy. Then you’ll know when it’s time for the cot or Moses basket. It’s also good to know the difference between a tired baby and a hungry one. Find out more here with our responsive feeding page.
- Day and night look and sound different. Give your baby time to get used to the difference when they’re a few weeks old.
When baby won’t sleep
Research has shown that early evening is the time babies are most likely to cry and be difficult to comfort. Which might just be when you're most tired. Not great.
Thankfully, the amount babies cry tends to peak around seven weeks, then gradually tail off. For more advice on why your baby may be crying visit the HSE website or cry-sis.org.uk
Nobody can do this alone, so ask for help. Speak to your Health Visitor or GP and let them know how things are going. Sleep deprivation is one of the toughest tests for new parents, so ask for support.
If your baby is bottle-fed, try splitting the night-time feeds and early morning changing with your partner. Maybe ask a friend or relative to come stay for a few days or even just an evening so you can catch up on your sleep.
When do babies start sleeping through the night?
This night will come. Every baby is different, but many babies start sleeping for longer from around six months. So there is a light on the horizon, but you won’t see much of it because you’ll be asleep. If your baby is already sleeping through, great, but not every parent is so lucky.