7 great baby-sleep tips

Baby not sleeping? What are you doing that’s wrong? We have a list of top tips…


When your baby is born, it might seem that they know very well how to sleep! After all, besides feeding, they do little else… But teach them the fundamental skills of good sleep during their first few months and they’re likely to enjoy healthy sleeping habits for life.


1) Teach the difference between night and day

A typical newborn spends 16 hours a day sleeping. This is split evenly between night and day and punctuated by two-hourly feeds. “In your womb, your baby will have sensed the difference between night  and day from your movement — or lack of it,” notes sleep expert Mandy Gurney. “But she doesn’t connect this with light and dark once born.”
         The first step is to differentiate between day and night. “During the day, immerse your baby in the bustle of normal life,” Gurney advises. “Spend plenty of time stimulating them. Take them outside for fresh air and daylight every day.”
         For daytime naps, put them in their cot but leave the curtains open and don’t try to minimise noise. At night, make the room dark. During night feeds, avoid stimulating your baby. Keep your voice low and make minimal eye contact.
         “Only change the diaper if it’s necessary,” Gurney says.
         By 4 weeks of age, a baby will typically sleep for a total of six to seven hours during the day and eight to nine hours at night. A 3-month-old baby who has been taught that night-time is for sleeping will typically sleep for around four hours in the day and 10 to 11 hours at night.

“The very first sign that your baby is tired is being quiet and still.”

2) Look for sleep cues

An overtired baby is very difficult to settle and will require a lot of help, whether in the form of rocking, milk or cuddles. If you want your baby to learn how to settle themselves, you must make it easy for them and put them into the cot as soon as they appear tired.         “For the first few weeks, there’s likely to be little pattern to your baby’s sleep, so it’s your job to look out for sleep cues,” Gurney notes.
         “The very first sign that your baby is tired is being quiet and still. If you miss this cue, they may rub their eyes, yawn, become fractious or cry. Respond straightaway and put your baby down for a nap.” 

3) Indicate when to expect sleep

A succession of events every night which ends in your baby drifting off teaches them the simple message that it’s now time to go to sleep.
         “While your baby might settle easily now, in nine months’ time when they have rather more say in that decision, this understanding will be of huge value,” Gurney points out.
         A bedtime routine should take 20 to 30 minutes and start with a short, warm bath, which can help stimulate melatonin, the sleep hormone.
         Then wrap your baby in a towel and take them straight into the room in which they’ll sleep. Dress them for bed with minimal stimulation. Stick to the same routine every night, adding a bedtime story from 3 months.
         “Make your routine as simple as possible, so you can keep it the same wherever you are,” Gurney suggests.

Four more tips coming right up…