Sleep – Routines, Patterns and Safety for Babies
Posted by: Sue Atkins
Helping your baby to sleep
Babies are all different – some babies sleep much more than others, some sleep for long periods, some sleep in short little bursts, some sleep through the night, others don’t!
So, relax & stop comparing your baby to others & learn to adapt to the rhythm of your baby.
As your baby will have their own pattern of waking and sleeping, it’s unlikely to be the same as other babies you know. Don’t join in the competitive parenting of ‘Is she sleeping through yet?’ Take the pressure off yourself and your baby and enjoy this special time in your life.
One of my top tips is to try & sleep when your baby sleeps.
Don’t be a ‘Super Mum or Dad’ and try to do everything. Let people help you shop, cook, clean, or change the baby, for a little while after having your baby. Rest or sleep when your baby does. Things will soon settle into their own natural rhythm.
Teaching Your Baby The Difference Between Day & Night.
It’s a good idea to gently teach your baby that night-time is different from daytime from the very beginning, as it begins to create a simple routine. During the day, open your curtains, play games and chat and sing to your baby and go out and about in the fresh air and don’t worry too much about everyday noises when they sleep. It’s a good idea to let them become accustomed to the noise and bustle of the day.
At night, you might find it a good idea to:
- dim the lights.
- stop stimulating your baby by slowing things down and speaking more softly.
- getting into a routine of giving your little one a bath, popping on their pyjamas, feeding and changing them, then putting them down to sleep around the same time every evening. This creates a pattern that your baby will learn to adapt to over time. Associating these simple routines with getting ready to fall asleep will really help.
- don’t fuss and change your baby unless they need it during the evening.
- don’t overstimulate or play with your baby if they wake up. Create soothing slowing down routines, reassure but don’t excite them. Let them know there’s a difference to the way you react during the night.
Your baby will gradually learn that night-time is for sleeping.
The Importance of Teaching Your Baby to Self-Soothe.
Can you imagine how you’d feel if your little one fell asleep quickly and easily on their own?
Then imagine your baby, despite waking up in the middle of the night, turned over and didn’t bother you. Instead, they went back to sleep without a fuss.
Crazy? Impossible? Unbelievable? A pipe-dream?
But what if I told you that it can and does happen.
Studies suggest that one of the factors that determine a young child’s sleep pattern through the night is based on whether they learn to self-soothe during the first six months of their life.
What Does Self-Soothing Mean?
Self-soothing, is the name that involves a baby or young child learning how to calm & settle back down by themselves, when they wake up.
Encouraging, nurturing and allowing your baby to self soothe can be a wonderful life skill.
Self-soothing involves parts of your baby’s body like their hands, fingers, mouth and face & a few of the things your baby will do is:
- Suck on their thumb or on a finger
- Suck on a dummy
- Suck on bottle
- Suck a soft blanket or a toy
- Hold their hands together
- Stroke and fondle their ears or their nose
- Gently rub their eyes
By letting your baby soothe themselves means they are learning to trust their own ability to fall asleep on their own, without the need for an adult to rock, cuddle, pat, carry or be there to help them fall asleep. Most doctors today strongly recommend that parents allow their babies to go to sleep on their own or self-settle rather than spend hours rocking them to sleep.
Studies suggest that these sleep associations are powerful as they can last a lifetime.
This is NOT allowing your child to go without a feed, or allowing them to ‘cry themselves to sleep.’
I am not an advocate of ‘crying it out’ – that creates trauma and a child who feels that they can’t trust the world as their needs are not being meet.
This is different.
This is allowing your little one to learn to fall asleep on their own.
Most babies need to be taught to self-soothe while a few are natural self-soothers. As a rule of thumb, you can expect your baby to begin soothing themselves to sleep anywhere between 4/5 months to a year. Of course, we are all different, so some babies may take a little longer to learn how to do this.
On a sensory level, soothing strategies involve movement, touch, and vibration, such as:
- gently rocking from side to side to get to sleep
- playing with their hair or fingers
- cuddling a teddy, toy or blanket
Putting your baby into their Enchanted Sleeper will also help your baby to feel safe & to fall asleep comfortably and securely without the need for any extra blankets or covers.
The simple leg divider makes sure that your little one stays safely on their back, with their legs and hips gently supported, while also allowing your little one to master self-soothing as they can get their hands to their face or mouth. You can also help your baby learn to self soothe by putting their hands or fingers towards their face as you settle them.
Self-exploration is another simple way to help your baby self-soothe. Let them enjoy the pleasure from their own explorations of their fingers, toes, hair or face. Lots of Mums I’ve met tend to remove their baby’s fingers from their mouths the minute they begin to suckle. Don’t stop your baby, relax and let your baby explore and learn for themselves.
Don’t rush it, don’t expect too much, too soon. Take your time and allow your little one to learn how to fall asleep on their own and to soothe themselves naturally and in their own time.
The Benefits of Self-Soothing
Learning to fall asleep on their own, to comfort themselves and to self soothe is an important milestone that will serve you all as family long term.
1. Your baby becomes less fussy:
Self-soothing doesn’t only help your baby sleep better, it helps you all to relax and sleep better, so no- one is running on empty for the next day. You & your partner will be able to get up and go to work or go about your day free from the crippling effects of lack of sleep, which really does build up over time and puts you all under pressure. It makes you short tempered, exhausted and feeling down & stressed out.
The upside to self-soothing is that your baby is learning to stay in control of themselves. A baby who can self-soothe is likely to be less fussy, restless or demanding throughout the day. It also promotes independent sleep associations & habits which will transfer into their night time sleeping patterns too.
2. Your baby sleeps better:
If your infant can self-soothe as they enter into the light sleep state, they will be able to sleep without too much trouble or relying on your intervention. They will be able to go back to sleep on their own if they wake up in the middle of the night.
Gradually, your baby will learn to sleep longer without waking you up. Doctors believe that babies who can self-soothe get a good one hour of extra sleep, which is essential for their growth and development. Another good reason to develop and teach your little one how to do it.
3. Your baby grows more confident & independent.
When your baby learns to comfort themselves, they will be able to regulate their own moods & needs better. They’ll be able to focus on learning new skills during the day because they won’t be so tired or irritable and they will be gaining more confidence.
4. You start to relax and be more positive.
If you can teach your baby to self-soothe, your days and nights will be a lot more settled, relaxed, positive and enjoyable and you can carry out your daily household jobs without feeling guilty or stressed by overwhelm. It’s much, much easier to look after a baby who can self-soothe than a fussy, fractious baby who requires constant attention just to get to sleep.
Reduce The Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
It is perfectly normal to feel worried or anxious when you are in charge of a new baby & lots of parents worry about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
This is why using an Enchanted Sleeper gives so many parents reassurance because expert advice suggests that by placing a baby on their back to sleep, minimises the risks. It’s also good practice to not smoke near your baby and to make sure their head is uncovered.
This is why I’m such a fan of the Enchanted Sleeper as it’s been designed purposefully as an all-in-one sleeping solution for new born babies up to three or four months because the product comes with a deluxe mattress and cover, so your baby is kept warm and comfortable, with no loose blankets to worry about accidentally covering your baby’s head. You can also relax knowing that your baby won’t be become too hot.
Where your baby sleeps is up to you, but the safest option is for your baby to sleep in a cot next to your bed for the first 6-12 months. This reduces the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SIDS) and fatal sleeping accidents. The Enchanted Sleeper fits perfectly into a Moses basket or cot that can be kept next to your bed so you all get a restful night’s sleep.
Signs of sleep readiness
You can help your baby sleep by recognising the signs of sleep readiness and by then gently putting them down to sleep.
Your baby may show signs of being ready for sleep with the following:
- Rubbing eyes
- Looking away
Newborn sleep needs
Most newborn babies are asleep more than they are awake. Their total daily sleep varies, but can be from 8 hours up to 16 or 18 hours. Babies will wake during the night because they need to be fed. Being too hot or too cold can also disturb their sleep.
Sleep requirements at 3 to 6 months old
As your baby grows, they’ll need fewer night feeds and will be able to sleep for longer. Some babies will sleep for 8 hours or longer at night, but not all. By 4 months, they may be spending around twice as long sleeping at night as they do during the day.
Baby sleep at 6 to 12 months
For babies aged 6 months to a year, night feeds may no longer be necessary and some babies will sleep for up to 12 hours at night. This is when teething discomfort or hunger may wake your baby during the night.
Things To Remember
– Sleep is important for growth, immunity, learning and memory.
– How much sleep children need changes as they get older.
– We all move through cycles of deep and light sleep throughout the night.
Top Tips for Sleep
- Create a relaxed atmosphere with a regular bedtime routine – bath, milk, story or song & down to sleep.
- Play music – 80% of babies tend to fall asleep in less than five minutes when soft music is played. (But make sure it’s not Meatloaf or ZZ Top!)
- Have a consistent bedtime. One REALLY important tip is to establish a regular bedtime as your baby’s internal clock will help them to feel sleepy at a regular, predictable time.
- Keep the atmosphere calm and don’t over stimulate your baby just before bedtime. Overtired babies get fractious.
- Buy a nightlight. Keep the light dim and interaction low at night so that you don’t disturb your baby when they are asleep. Teach them that night time is sleep time
- Keep the room temperature consistent – not too hot, not too cold.
- Hover but don’t fuss. Potter about in their bedroom – put away toys or clothes while they are settling down to allow your baby to self soothe but with you around for reassurance.
- Do make sure that you use the right comforter object. Stay safe and don’t put anything in their cot in the first few months. For babies under 6 months, choose a toy that you can attach to the cot sides so that your baby can see it, feel it, or sense it but can’t pull it too close or get entangled in it. Once your baby is 6 to 8 months old, you can leave a toy in the cot.
- Give your baby something that they can smell you from as they will feel comforted by it.
Dealing with Your Baby’s baby Sleep Problems
All babies change their sleep patterns. Just when you think you have it sorted and you’ve all had a good night’s sleep, the next night you might be up every couple of hours!
Be prepared to change your routines as your baby grows and enters different stages. And remember, growth spurts, teething and illnesses can all affect how your baby sleeps.
If your baby is having problems sleeping or you need more advice about getting into a routine, speak to your health visitor or doctor.
For more of Sue’s Quick Win Video Sleep Tips for Babies, plus other resources and discounts, click on the link below and join her Parenting Online Club today
This article has been sponsored by The Enchanted Baby Company, who have developed the Enchanted Sleeper.
Exclusive Discount Offer for Members of Sue’s Online Parenting Club
Members of Sue’s Online Parenting Club can take advantage of the exclusive £15 discount from the Enchanted Sleeper meaning it can be purchased for just £74.99
- Two Sleeper covers (aqua and silver)
- Deluxe mattress for ultimate comfort
- 2.5 Tog rating
- Super-soft 100% brushed cotton cover
- Completely washable and super easy to change
- Lightweight and portable
- 3 Stage growth flap
- Patented product and leg divider
- NHS Safe Sleep compliant
- Secure poppers & Zip guard
Normal Retail Price: £89.99
Meet Susan and Derek of The Enchanted Baby Company
When Susan and Derek Smallman welcomed their first precious grandchild into the world, little did they know that over the next eight years they would dedicate their lives to a brand-new, patented product set to revolutionise safe and comfortable sleeping for newborns* right through to three- or four-month olds.
Married for over 45 years, Susan and Derek have two grown-up children, and two young granddaughters. The couple’s journey started when their first granddaughter was born, when they noticed that she loved to would wriggle under the blankets of her crib – causing them and their daughter to worry about her body temperature and safety.
And so, their quest began to develop a product that would be safe enough for their baby granddaughter to sleep in from birth, and that would overcome all of the problems that they – and parents and grandparents everywhere – were facing when it came to ensuring a safe and comfortable night’s sleep for their children/grandchildren.
The next few years saw Susan and Derek painstakingly design and re-design a product based on their own experiments and product evolutions, as well as the valuable feedback they received along the way from both parents and healthcare experts. And, by the time the couple had arrived at the final finished product, they realised this wasn’t just a product for their own family, but a product that could benefit every single family with a new baby.
And so, the Enchanted Baby Company was born. A family company which has the comfort and safety of little ones – and total peace of mind for parents – at the core of everything it does.
The Enchanted Sleeper is the first product from the Enchanted Baby Company to launch.
A total sleep solution designed to help a baby sleep comfortably and securely without the need for any extra blankets or covers. With a patented leg divider that sees baby’s legs gently supported in their natural position, enabling free movement and healthy hip development – but also ensuring fast and easy access for feeding and nappy changes. And, offering parents (and grandparents) ultimate peace of mind with its guarantee of meeting all UK and European safety standards and guidelines.
For the Smallmans, what started as a small project on Susan’s sewing machine has turned into a vision for a much simpler baby sleep market.
New parents are being overwhelmed with options – some of which don’t necessarily comply with safer sleep recommendations, when all they really want is an easy-to-use product which will keep their little one safe and warm. Enchanted Sleeper is the answer.
Connect with The Enchanted Baby Company