We're here to give you some handy tips for baby sleep so you understand your baby’s needs, and to help them – and you – sleep a little better.
Sleep is very important for a baby’s development, and the amount (and when) they sleep changes as they grow.
Whether it’s a snoozy daytime nap or settling your little one down for the night, we're here to give you some handy tips for baby sleep so you understand your baby’s needs, and to help them – and you – sleep a little better.
What are the signs that my baby is tired?
- Jerky movements
- Becoming fussy, quiet, or not wanting to play
- Rubbing their eyes
- Clenching their fists
How much sleep should my baby get?
Here’s an approximate guide to how many hours a baby should sleep in a single 24-hour period. But remember that all babies are different and it’s important to not compare your little one to others.
- Birth to three months: 14 to 17 hours
- Four to six months: 12 to 15 hours
- Seven to 12 months:10 to 12 hours
It’s worth noting that babies aren’t born with a circadian rhythm. They learn when to sleep and when to be awake over time. Because of this, you should try to get some sleep when your newborn does during the first few months while they adjust to a more predictable sleep schedule. Because at first, it's unlikely that their sleep routine will match your desired one!
Top newborn baby sleep tips
There are lots of techniques out there that parents swear by to settle their babies to sleep, and there’s no one size fits all rule!
We’ve selected a few of our top tips for baby sleep to try to help you get started…
Set a regular bedtime and routine
From around three months old, you can help your baby to feel like it’s time for sleep by adopting a winding down bedtime routine every night. Babies may not understand what you’re doing, but gradually, a simple routine will encourage them to sleep. Establish a short, simple bedtime routine including the following eight steps:
- Take your baby away from the rest of the family for some quiet time. About an hour before bedtime, give them chance to calm down from all the excitement and adventures of the day.
- Dim the lights in the room they’ll be sleeping in.
- Encourage your baby to relax with a warm, soothing bath. Don’t indulge in too much playtime and splashing about before bed.
- Once out of the bath, take your little one straight into the darkened room and dress them in a swaddle or sleep suit, depending on their age.
- Pop on some soothing sounds like white or pink noise to get them into a dreamy state of mind.
- Give your baby their last feed before bedtime.
- Place them in their cot or Moses basket while they’re still awake.
- Use a favourite phrase such as “night, night, sleep tight” to signal that you’re about to leave the room.
Teach them the difference between night and day
Babies won’t automatically sleep just because it’s nighttime. But you can help to teach them the difference between day and night by taking them outside in the fresh air and letting them nap in a light, bright and busy environment during the day, then making sure their environment is dark, quiet, and snoozy in the evening.
Put them down when they’re sleepy but still awake
Try to put your baby down to sleep when they’re still awake but just on the cusp of dozing off. This will help them get used to getting themselves to sleep, so they’re more likely to do it again when they wake during the night. If your baby falls asleep during their last milk feed, you can rouse them gently before putting them in their cot.
Tips for getting your baby to sleep through the night
For all parents, there comes a time when you become ready to get back to a full night’s sleep, and for your little one to sleep through the night. Most babies will start sleeping for longer stretches during the night at about four months of age – although this varies from one baby to the next!
It’s best for parents to be realistic to avoid disappointment: a goal of getting your baby to sleep all the way through the night by the time they reach their first birthday is a great starting point.
The following tips can help make that dream a reality:
Create the right sleep environment
Remember to always sleep safely and put your baby down for sleep on their back. For the first six months, the safest place for your sleeping baby is in the same room as you but in a separate Moses basket or cot.
Create a place that your baby associates with sleep and make sure they’re not disturbed. Putting them down for nighttime sleep in a comfortable, darkened room will help them feel secure as they drift off to sleep.
It’s a good idea to keep their environment consistent so that if they wake in the middle of the night, the sounds and lights in the room are the same as when they fell asleep. That way, they'll find it easier to self-soothe and fall back to sleep.
Use dream feeds
Some parents semi-wake their baby for a feed (bottle or breast) just before between they go to bed themselves, often between 10pm and midnight. This is sometimes called dream feeding. It means that baby is woken and fed a little earlier than they would naturally wake up due to hunger, and it’s then easier to settle them back to sleep. Eventually, the gaps between their nighttime wake-ups will get longer, meaning they'll sleep for longer too!
Sleep training is a great way for parents to support their baby’s transition towards self-soothing and sleeping independently through the night. There are a few different techniques out there and it’s a very personal journey, so it’s all about finding the method that works best for you. Don’t worry if you can’t seem to get the hang of sleep training – parents sometimes find that their baby simply isn’t ready to be sleep trained just yet.
Invest in a baby monitor
During your sleep training journey, a baby sleep monitor can help to keep your baby safe, while also reassuring you and building your confidence when it comes to encouraging independent sleep that lasts all night.
Consider their developmental stages
Remember that your baby will go through lots of developmental changes during their sleep journey. So, don’t get frustrated if they seem to take a step back from time to time and start to wake more during the night. For example, at around six and nine months, little ones start to become aware when their parents leave the room and then associate bedtime with being left alone, which causes upset.
Don’t worry though, if you stick to your sleep routine and be patient, they’ll soon get back on track and sleep soundly again.