Tips for helping baby to sleep well

Jo Tantum

AN EXPERT'S VIEW
Jo Tantum's vast experience working with babies, children and parents makes her the go-to person for many parents who need advice on establishing a sleep routine for their newborn. In this feature, she shares her advice and top tips for getting a peaceful night's sleep

I’m Jo Tantum and I’ve been working with babies and parents for almost 30 years. For the last 15 years I’ve been helping sleep deprived parents everywhere teach their little ones how to love sleeping without distress.

When you’re expecting your bundle of joy, you will already have an idea of the sort of parenting style you want to adopt: a strict routine, a flexible routine or a go with the flow.

You’ll have so much advice from family and friends, reading plenty of books and magazines, most of which will be conflicting, which can be really confusing and stressful. I always advise people to stick to one book, friend, family member they feel works best for them. It can be really confusing for your baby when you change your mind frequently depending on which piece of advice you decide to use.

Keep a Log

One of the easiest things you can do to help you understand your baby’s natural patterns is to start a feeding and sleeping log. This can help you work out when they are hungry, or tired so you can start to put a routine in place.

As babies work on a cycle of a 12 hour day and 12 hour night you don’t have to stick to the usual 7am-7pm. You can decide what routine works best for your family.

Nap Times

Newborn babies can only really stay awake for about 1 hour at a time before they are tired again. Just enough time for a nappy change, a feed and burp and a short play to stop the feeding to sleep pattern.

At 3 months old your baby can now stay awake without getting tired for about 90 minutes, this means you can have more play time and more interaction from your little one. At 6 months, your little one is getting more mobile and can stay awake for around 2 hours without getting tired. This changes to 3 hours at 1 year old.As you can see the sleep times don’t change that much as they get older, and the main cause of your little one not settling for naps is being overtired.

Try and introduce your baby to their nursery for nap times as soon as possible. This will help them to recognise this as a place to sleep. Otherwise they may get upset when you move them to their own room at 6 months as it smells and sounds different. Your baby can still sleep in your room in the night. The Chicco Next to me crib and the Snnüzpod crib are ideal for keeping baby close to you at night, but they can still be easily moved to the nursery in the day, too.

Sleep Props

A sleep prop is something that helps your baby get to sleep, and often they can’t go to sleep without them. Props include feeding to sleep, rocking in arms, in the pram or car seat and using a dummy.

Most parents don’t mind using these methods to help their baby to sleep when they are little. The issue arises when they get older, heavier or parents need to go back to work, and it affects their night-time sleep. Comforters make great props as they can be left with baby (only give them to babies when they can hold them from around 4-6 months old). One of your baby’s triggers for sleep is total blackout, as this triggers the melatonin hormone (the sleepy hormone). This is important for nap times and night-times, as this will mean they have a more restful sleep. Try black Roman blinds or lined curtains

Bedtime Routine

One of the easiest things to implement is a bedtime routine. This is really important so your baby doesn't get overtired and go into meltdown. It’s also really important for you as parents to have time together in the evening. You can start a bedtime routine as soon as you feel comfortable.

Bath

You don't actually have to bathe your baby every day. Just Top ’n’ Tail instead. Don't use any products in the bath until baby is older than 6 weeks, and after that make sure you use natural, chemical free products on their delicate skin such as Bloom and Blossom baby sleep products or Burt’s Bees baby toiletries.

Story Time

You can start reading your little one a bedtime story from around 12 weeks old. This can help at night and at nap times. When reading a story have a low, relaxing voice rather than an exciting voice that you would use in the day. Then say goodnight to all the characters.

Make sure you always follow
safe sleep guidelines https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk