Helpful Hints To Encourage your Baby to Sleep Well
Encouraging your newborn baby to sleep is a process of elimination. It is a process by which eliminating most factors preventing him from sleeping you will gain confidence to help you deal with your baby’s normal behaviour when he is trying to settle. It can take a newborn sometimes up to 30 to 60 minutes to achieve deep sleep and it is good to know that sometimes even after you have attempted to eliminate all negative factors the behaviour and unsettledness your baby is experiencing is quite normal.
The process of elimination goes something like this:
- Make sure you encourage your baby to feed well. During the daytime use up to one hour to encourage him to feed. Wake him up if he is sleepy and put him back to the breast having 5-10 minute breaks when necessary. Encourage good long feeds so you know he is not hungry. If he falls asleep after a short feed and you put him to bed only to have him not settle or wake too early you will think he is hungry and snack feeding will become a habit.
- Check and/or change his nappy before you put him to bed. You will be certain he is not wet or dirty. It is a good idea to get into the habit and not to be afraid of putting your baby down to bed awake. If he can achieve sleep on his own from an alert but relaxed state he will sleep better as a result.
- Wrap baby firmly with his hands away from his face. This will help to eliminate him feeling insecure and will assist him in settling down. Newborn babies cannot control their movements so if not swaddled he will keep himself awake by flapping his hands around his face.
- Hold your baby upright over your shoulder for a few minutes. This position will help him to relax and to bring up any wind he may have and at the same time you will give him the reassurance he needs to help settle him down. He will be in a calm state when you put him down.
- Tuck him into bed firmly. Newborns like to feel secure and the less they wiggle around the sooner they will be able to settle. Put him down wrapped and then also place a sheet tightly over the top of him tucked into each side of the mattress. Make sure there is plenty of room between the top of the sheet and your baby’s face so you don’t restrict air flow.
- Play some music in your baby’s room. Either a CD or the radio. Make sure the sound is playing for the whole time your baby is in bed. Music or noise helps your baby to settle. This constant noise within the bedroom helps your baby to switch off from other stimuli and also eliminates him feeling alone and vulnerable.
- Leave your baby to settle and if he cannot achieve this and is crying return to him and attempt to eliminate the negative factors you feel may be attributing to this unsettledness. You could pick him up for a cuddle. This will give him another opportunity to bring up remaining wind and will help him to calm with reassurance. After a couple of minute and when he is calm put him back down and try again.
- If your baby is still unsettled return to him and try patting or rocking to help him settle.
- As your baby gets older he will become familiar with bedtime as you consistently use these same techniques and as he matures he will begin to settle himself with not much assistance.
For more information on settling tips and how to teach your baby to sleep well see Jennifer Hamilton, Mothercraft Nurse – https://jenhamilton.org/. Jennifer is the creator of Maternal Matters and offers advice and a home visiting service, as well as the Maternal Matters parenting manual.
Last Published* December, 2022
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.