Gentle Sleep & Settling

Here are some tips for sleep and settling for young babies.  Remember these are only suggestions, you know your baby best J


1.    Try and observe a feed, play, sleep routine during the day.  As your little person matures their playtime becomes longer.


2.    Watch for your baby’s tired/sleep cues.  It’s so helpful once you can identify when they are tired!  Watch out for frowning, grizzling, clenched fists, jerky movements, yawning, rubbing face/ears, red rimmed eyes or eyebrows, circles under their eyes, watering eyes, back arching, losing interest in interacting or playing, clinginess and crying. 


3.    Have a cuddle before bed so your baby feels loved, safe and snuggly and reduce the sound/light/energy stimulation in the environment if your baby is sensitive to that (children with siblings won’t be!).


4.    You can try many techniques to settle your baby.  You may lie down with them or feed them to sleep.  I sang my children to sleep, or you may put your child down and let them fall asleep on their own.  Lullaby music at sleeptime can be a nice way to settle your child to sleep too – I recommend ‘Music for Dreaming’.  You can start using music while pregnant to help your baby develop positive feelings towards the music, which help it to work later to soothe and comfort them at sleeptime. 


5.    Some other techniques include rhythmic tapping or stroking, wrapping, reassuring sounds/words, rocking, walking, bouncing or cuddling a teddy/blankie.  Your baby will show you what they like.  Whatever you both choose, keep it consistent. 


6.    Controlled crying is never a good idea – it’s too stressful for your baby and leaves them feeling abandoned.  If your child has trouble going to sleep on their own (after 6-9 months) you could try the following gentle steps:  use your preferred settling routine and techniques, quietly leave the room or lie down beside them, when your child cries you reenter their space and use your preferred settling techniques again until they calm down (same words/same actions), quietly withdraw, repeat etc…You can gradually extend the time you are out of your babies space. This may take a while, but over a few days your child will be reassured that you come when they cry and you will provide comfort when they need it.  But they also learn to trust they can go longer periods without you and be safe to go to sleep.


7.    This is how I managed my children’s sleep but if it doesn’t sit right with you then don’t do it.  Whatever method you choose has to ensure your child feels safe and loved and it works for you too.


8.    Babies often have a sleep cue that helps them go to sleep.  This is a behavior they do to help themselves transition to sleep.  It may be sucking on a dummy, rubbing a blankie, putting their hand to their mouth etc…watch your child and see what it is they do just before they fall asleep. Then you can incorporate it into your settling routine. 


Here is a rough guide to how much sleep your little one needs.  Its just a GUIDE so please don’t worry if your child hasn’t seen the memo ;) 

Age                      Total                Nighttime        Daytime            No. of

                              sleep hrs        hrs                      hrs                      naps

1 week                16                     8                          8                          4

1 month             15                     9                          6                          3

3 months           15                     10                       5                          3

6 months           14                     11                       3                          2

9 months           14                     11                       3                          2

12 months        13                     11                       2                          2

18 months        13                     11                       2                          2

2 years               13                     11                       2                          1

3 years               12                     11                       1                          1

4 years               11                     11                       0                          0


There are a few more suggestions here http://www.ahaparenting.com/Ages-stages/newborns/helping-your-baby-get-to-sleep


If you feel you’ve tried everything and things aren’t working for you then why not get some support and contact Melanie Cain -  owner of TLC Birth & Beyond, post natal doula and early parenting expert.  You can contact her at [email protected]


Good luck and happy sleeping!  Xx Jacinta