Establishing your baby’s sleep routine will set you and bub up for a great slumber and more productive day.
Parenting expert Jen Hamilton says to do this, consistency is key. “Given parents are said to lose an average of 350 hours of sleep in their baby’s first year, it’s no surprise that ‘how to get my baby to sleep’ is the number one question raised by parents,” Jen says. “Just when parents do work it out, they find their young ones change their tune to these methods. Each developmental stage of the baby requires modified techniques to support their quality of sleep.”
According to Jen, sleep problems in infancy is the biggest challenge for new parents and can result in negative consequences for both parents and bub. “Baby’s sleep problems are frequently associated with parental depression and anxiety, as well as poor parental physical health and reduced quality of life,” Jen explains. “Infant sleep intervention and establishing the right rhythm early on improves emotional wellbeing in parents and the child’s quality of sleep. Furthermore, it enhances the relationship between child and parent and stimulates positive cognitive and emotional development of the child.”
Related: 7 Newborn Challenges Parents Face
With almost 30 years’ of practical experience working with parents, Jen Hamilton, founder of parenting app WOTBaby has seen it all – from parents rocking or patting for hours, to feeding to sleep and co-sleeping, all in an effort to put bub to sleep.
Through her professional experiences, including having three kids of her own, Jen has established successful feeding, sleep and settling techniques that she believes will ensure babies (and subsequently everyone else in the household) gets some rest. Jen’s methods centre around educating parents to build their confidence and establish consistency from the very beginning.
“Babies are born with around 20% brain development,” explains Jen. “They are a blank canvas. So it’s up to parents to provide them with the ongoing skills and support to learn to sleep as they grow.”
Baby's Sleep Routine GuideParenting expert Jen Hamilton's top settling and sleeping techniques for newborns to 6 months old.
|Baby's age||Development characterstics||Sleep support|
|0 -2 weeks||On average your baby will only be awake for feeds.||Post feed a tight wrap and cuddle will help them nod off again.|
|2 -6 weeks||Babies tend to be slightly more awake of an evening and are now more affected by stimulation.||• Try music to help sooth baby.
• If you are co-sleeping be mindful of baby as they are more affected by their surroundings now.
• Babies are noisy sleepers and this tends to make mum and dad more aware of them, if you are co-sleeping or bub is in a bassinet next to your bed and baby is keeping you up, perhaps it’s time to move bub to their own space.
• Ideally during the day start to put baby down drowsy, but awake, so they begin to leans skills to self-settle and fall asleep on their own.
|6 – 12 weeks||Baby starts to understand the difference between wake time and sleep time and as a parent being consistent is key.||• Prime the environment for sleep; draw curtains, play music, start speaking in a softer voice as you prepare bub for bed.
• Make sure all needs are met: check nappy and ensure bub is firmly snug and comfortable to give bub the best possible chance of nodding off.
• Ensure the focus remains on winding bub down and not over stimulating.
• Continue to put baby to bed down awake, so that self-settling skills can build, however, remember that bub is now getting more used to his sleeping environment and may take 20-40 minutes to fall asleep.
|3 – 4 months||This is the period for learning and habits are forming. Primitive reflexes are fading and baby is learning through repetition and cues associated with bedtime.||• Cat-napping of one sleep cycle (40 minutes) is more likely if the baby is not learning to put themselves to sleep.
• In this age bracket it is crucial for baby to be able to put themselves to sleep as the quality of the sleep will be better. It can take babies up to 30 minutes to fall asleep.
|4 – 6 months||Babies recognise patterns within their routine. Consistency and routine can be of great benefit. Self settling when encouraged will become a healthy habit.||• If you are rocking, patting or feeding the baby to sleep it might not work or take longer then it used to, as they are more aware of the world around them.
• Play has become a big part of life and interaction is being learnt. As a parent you are responsible for teaching the different Windows Of Time; sleep, play, feed, settle and re-settle. At sleep time do not engage too much, ensuring that you are not showing them it is play time. Bubs get confused and benefit from consistent direction and regular patterns of behaviour.
Baby still not sleeping?
Here’s a check list with some further tips.
Put baby in their own room: “Consider putting baby in their own room if you and baby’s sleep is often disturbed for other reasons, besides feeding.”
Noise is good: “Use background music as a tool for helping to put baby to sleep. Soft music is not only a good sleep cue, but it will serve as a distraction to the outside world and help put baby in a relaxed state conducive to sleep.”
Crying is not necessarily a negative: “Once you have ensured all bub’s needs are met, leave them to settle and go back in to reassure them only if necessary. Listen to their cry and learn to identify the ‘grizzle cry’ generally associated with them trying to put themselves to sleep. Also, if there are pauses between cries baby is just trying to self-settle.”
Settle in a dark room: “Be aware of stimulation and even in the day, draw the curtains and put baby to sleep in a darkened room.”
Rocking doesn’t always work: “As baby grows and becomes more aware of their surroundings, rocking may only serve as a further distraction and prevent sleep.”
ABOUT: Jen Hamilton is a published author, mum of three and in her career as a parenting expert, she has helped thousands of parents and caregivers adjust to their baby, including Emma Isaacs, founder of Business Chicks.
WOTBaby is an Australian first personalised app that supports the journey of raising babies from newborn to six months. Tailored to the child’s name and age, the app provides the caregiver or parent with week-by-week development milestones and tackles the myriad of challenges parents might be navigating through at that particular stage such as feeding and settling. What sets the technology apart from anything else on the market, is that it acknowledges that every baby and every parent is different, and so offers an instant step-by-step flow of tips and advice parents or carers can try as they find what works for them. The app is also full of instructional videos. This mid-wife-in-your-pocket app is available for $2.99 from the app store.
Main image: Photography by Rainee Lantry Cloud Nine Photography