Here are some practical tips from the Sleep Health Foundation to ensure you and your baby get the best sleep.
1. Establish a regular sleep time. During the first weeks of life your baby does not yet have a set day-night rhythm. You can help create this rhythm by setting regular times for going to bed and waking up. These need to allow plenty of time for sleep. The more regular the hours, the stronger the sleep-wake cycle will be. This helps you predict when they need sleep. Regular hours are important for older children too.
2. Night time is for sleep. You need to help your baby understand this. You do this by socialising as little as you can at night. Save stimulating social interaction for daylight and evening hours. Attend to your baby and feed in low light overnight. Also avoid rushing to their bed at the first sign of stirring. Your baby may well resettle if left for a moment or two.
3. A bedtime routine Get into the habit of doing the same things before bed. This helps prepare your baby for sleep. It also helps him or her understand that the time has come for sleep. Simple things like a bath, some quiet time including reading to your baby, a final feed and a kiss can be part of this routine.
4. Get your child used to being put into bed awake This helps your baby learn to fall to sleep without your help. It's best for your baby to be sleepy and relaxed when they are placed in the cot. You don't need to wait for your child to be asleep before putting him or her to bed.
5. Maintain their room temperature A general guide to maintaining baby's room temp is between 65F to 71F. This ensures your baby will not be too cold or too hot in the night. It is safe to use a thermostat controlled heating system if this is possible. If using a heater, always position at the farthest part of the room away from your baby's bed to ensure heating is distributed evenly around the room.
6. Appropriate clothing Make sure your baby is dressed appropriately. Try to use clothing made only of natural materials such as cotton or bamboo to ensure breathability. Using a sleep suit that is non-restrictive will help give additional warmth in cooler nights, since we all know that blankets will almost surely come off in the night.
7. Be consistent Your baby will learn good sleep habits if you take a consistent approach. You may find it quite tough at first, but there will be long term rewards for you and your baby.
8. The family bed Think about whether you really want your baby to sleep in your bed. While some parents prefer this, sooner or later the infant will need to move out. You might then find that it is hard to break the habit. Babies sleeping in the parents’ bed has also been linked to a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome in some cases. If you do choose to have your baby sleep in bed with you, make sure you position your baby with care. You don’t want them covered by bed clothes or too hot. Also think about where you and your partner sleep so that you don’t roll onto your baby by accident.
9. Posture in bed Babies sleeping on their tummies has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome. The safest position for your baby is on their back, face up.
10. Time for you Early parenthood is greatly rewarding and exciting. But it can be a very tiring and demanding time for you. Make sure you have plenty of downtime too. When your baby is awake, you want to be able to enjoy the interaction. Use the time your baby is sleeping to rest. Arrange with your partner, friend or family member to have some time off. This will mean that you will be happier, brighter and better able to cope.
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