PARENTS everywhere are willing to try anything to get their babies off to sleep, and, thankfully, there are some easy tips to help us on our way.
But with countless methods and techniques flooding the internet daily, how do we know what really works and what’s a waste of time.
Fabulous has enlisted the help of baby experts to share their expertise on the matter, and they reveal once and for all the tips and tricks that’ll make sleep time a breeze.
Rule: Consistency is key
In short, this is true, according to the experts, who say creating a bedtime routine will help your baby know when to nod off themselves
Karen Miller, a Baby & Toddler Sleep Consultant at Asleep At Last, say babies and toddlers like things to be repetitive as it makes them feel safe and secure knowing what is coming next.
She says: “A consistent bedtime routine acts as a sleepy cue and makes it clear it’s time to wind down.”
Meanwhile, Livvy Ashton (RN, CNM), midwifery nurse, pregnancy expert and senior editor at CFAH also adds: “Make sure your baby knows that when it’s dark, it’s time to sleep!
“Let lots of light into the room where your baby is during the day, take them out to see daylight too.
“Then when it’s time for bed make sure their room is completely dark; they will associate this with napping/sleeping which will help them fall asleep easier.”
Rule: Never nurse a baby to sleep, put them down awake
It’s common for parents to rock a baby to sleep, but become frustrated when they wake again upon hitting their cot.
Sound familiar? This is because babies become dependent on their parents to fall asleep, and struggle sleeping on their own.
Instead, Andrew Leach from Babythingz says you should always put the baby down in their crib or moses basket before they fall asleep to get them used to dozing off on their own.
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Suze Patel, Co-Founder of Nini Baby explains that putting your baby down while they’re still awake “teaches babies to self-soothe, meaning they’ll slowly learn how to put themselves to sleep.”
Karen agrees, although she says it depends on the age of the child.
“Newborns often fall asleep [while being held] because they are not biologically capable of sleeping without assistance,” she explains, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your little one dozes off while nursing.
“From about four months you can start to move the feed earlier so that they are aware of going to sleep without the feed which encourages them to settle themselves.”
Rule: Don’t let day time naps exceed two hours
TikTok user and mum Tory Halpin, from Canada, recently revealed that you should always wake babies after two hours to ensure they are eating enough calories through the day.
While there is some truth to this, the reason why, and the time limit, differs – and it also depends on your child.
Karen says: “Limiting day sleep to what they need as per their age will help night sleep. This may mean you need to wake them for naps but many still need a good chunk of day sleep before age three years.”
Limiting day sleep to what they need as per their age will help night sleep.
While sleep experts at Mattress Online add: “Most babies, especially newborns, will sleep in short bursts of time anyway – but for those that tend to sleep for longer stretches should be woken after four hours for a feed until they show good weight gain.
“Also, letting babies sleep for longer during the day may result in a restless baby when it comes to bedtime.”
Meanwhile, Suze advises parents to “let your baby’s natural response guide you – if they need more sleep, allow them that.”
Adding: “If they’re stirring more in the night, consider shortening their naps. Be patient and don’t rush the process.”
Rule: Always swaddle your baby to sleep
Some parents don’t like their baby feeling restricted while wrapped up tightly, but the experts say it’s a sure fire way to ensure quality sleep – and always advise it.
Karen explains that swaddling a baby make them feel “safe and helps them to feel secure” and it “also helps with the Moro reflex which can jolt them awake.”
Babies, like adults, also have different types of sleep, and active sleep cycles could have them jolting and moving about.
Keeping them snug in a swaddle could stop them from waking themselves up.
Rule: If your baby moves, you need to settle them
Mum-of-four Chrissy Horton explained in a TikTok video that she’s always felt the need to settle her babies every time they moved.
But actually, it’s just a part of their “active sleep” cycle, and Karen advises not rushing in.
“This is active sleep,” Chrissy said as her newborn wriggles and moves around in a video. “It’s something babies do fifty per cent of the time.”
She continued: “I would hear my babies do this and just assume that they were frustrated and wanted to be picked up, so I would pick them up, but in actuality I was waking them up.”
Commenting on the fact, Karen says: “We all stir when in the lighter phases of sleep.”
Adding: “I always advise my clients not to rush in too soon just because baby is stirring. Often people think baby needs something when they are actually just linking sleep cycles and don’t need us at all.”
Rule: The side pat will help them sleep
Emma Collett, from Utah, a certified sleep consultant, shared this trick on her instagram page, brighterdayssleep, and revealed that it’s the best way to resettle your baby when they wake from a short nap.
Emma says babies simply need help learning how to bridge their own sleep cycles.
You can do this by rolling the baby onto their side and say shush loudly.
Then pat their chest and back in a steady motion until they have fallen asleep.
Karen agrees and says it “works on newborns really well.”
“It needs to be quite strong and works well with white noise and a swaddle, she confirms. Adding: “Always remember to roll onto their back once asleep.”
Rule: Rubbing your baby’s eyebrows will make them fall asleep
Exhausted dad Austin Miles Geter, from Dallas, swears by this tip after sharing a clip on Facebook of him trying to soothe his newborn, Charlie, to sleep.
While he reckons stroking his bub’s eyebrows is a game changer, there is no science to back it up, according to the experts.
“I heard if you gently rub their eyebrows they go to sleep. So I’m going to try it,” he said in the video, before Charlie’s eyelids begin to droop, and she nods off almost instantly.
But Karen’s not convinced admitting there’s “no evidence this works,” saying “it may just help your baby to calm down.”
She says: “Each baby is different and some like touch more than others. It’s unlikely this will work for very long once baby gets older and more easily stimulated.”
Whilst some babies will love this, others may not experience the same benefits. Every baby is different!
While the eyebrows, specifically, does little to help a baby fall asleep, some experts reckon a massage before bed could help aid their sleep – although all babies are different.
Suze says “rubbing your baby’s eyebrows can be amazingly relaxing for them” but stresses it won’t always work.
“Although, whilst some babies will love this, others may not experience the same benefits. Every baby is different!” she explains.
“Generally though, soft touches and light massages do help to settle babies.”
Rule: Never feed baby to sleep
In the same way rocking a child to sleep makes them dependant on their parents, many argue that mums should never let their bubs fall asleep while nursing.
Suze says: “Feeding a baby to sleep isn’t the best hack… food will quickly become a cue that they rely on to go to sleep.”
She adds that there “may be times when this is helpful”, for example when they’re teething or unwell, but try not to “make a habit out of feeding your baby to sleep.”
But Karen reckons this is “totally up to the parent” as it’s a “choice not a rule,” so do whatever works for you.
She says: “If you want baby to learn to sleep independently though it’s best to move feed a little earlier so they don’t have that association to sleep which can mean they will look for it each time they wake.”
Rule: White noise will help them sleep
In short, this is correct and well worth giving it a go, according to the experts.
Karen explains that it “gives them something to focus on” and it’s ideal for newborns.
Suze agrees saying: “It’s surprisingly loud in the womb, so babies are actually comforted by noise! Silence is very new to them at first.”
In other parenting news, we shared twelve ways to break your children’s screen addiction as technology and gaming wrecks sleep.
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Common mistakes parents make
Karen Miller, a Baby & Toddler Sleep Consultant at Asleep At Last shares her advice with Fabulous:
- Rushing in and disrupting a child learning to put them selves to sleep – Just because they make noise / cry out now and then doesn’t mean they need anything.
- Bedtime is too late – For most of my clients I recommend a bedtime of ssleep by 6.30pm because early bedtimes do not mean early morning wakes. They can actually mean baby is overtired.
- Engage with the child too much. – Especially with toddlers, loads of negotiating and seeing you is way too stimulating and will cause them to get a second wind / fully wake up and not go back to sleep.