baby sleep training tips

Baby sleep training tips

Here’s a list of sleep training guidance and advice to help aid your little one to sleep. There are things you can put in to action straight away – but most of them took a bit of time. I’m afraid we don’t have any baby sleep quick-fix tips – anyone who promises that they can teach your child to go to sleep in one night is probably just trying to sell something.
It’s important to have patience, especially when trying to establish a routine. I hope these free tips are of benefit to you and if you have the time, please read through list of things we have learned in the when should baby sleep through page.

We are sure you will have checked with your Health Visitor or GP, that there is no underlying medical condition for your baby not sleeping. Don’t be made to feel like a nuisance by asking questions and seeking advice from professionals.

Keep it simple

Keep the sleep routine simple. A consistent night time routine can help your baby understand that it’s time to sleep, we tend to close the blinds and curtains around 7pm and put the lamps on (I call this ‘getting the house ready for the night’). Then it’s a bath, a story and a song, and off to bed. Choose a soothing ritual and stick with it. Consistency is key.

Set the scene

To help your baby understand when it’s bedtime, keep their room dimly lit. Darkness helps trigger the brain to release melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates the human biological clock. A good night light is essential, especially with babies who wake often and need comforting. After a lot of trial and errors the best night light for us was one that has a dimmer button which allows you to lighten and darken the room when the need arises but doesn’t alert your baby.

Routine – not regiment

As your baby starts to sleep better (and they will) their sleep time may change and shift but don’t get frustrated by this, it’s a sign that they are changing and maturing. For example, instead of a nap between 10.45-11.45 they may be able to last without a sleep until after lunch. You can’t get a baby to sleep if they are simply not tired or too stimulated so if your routine shifts a little either way, just go with it. It’s far less stressful that way than thinking “7.00pm, right! You must sleep, now!”.

Avoid Eye Contact

If like us you have a baby who wakes and needs comforting, when you do have to go to them try not to look your baby in the eye when you soothe them back to sleep or have to pick them out of the cot as this will often stimulate them and they will try to interact with you. Try not to feel like a bad parent because you’re not responding.

Don’t speak

When you do have to go in to your baby in the night to comfort and relax them, whether you can do this by keeping them in the cot or like me you have to lift them out, don’t engage with them just hold them, avoid eye contact and don’t speak. If you have to offer something other than holding them to calm them down just softly say, “Shhhh”.

Your baby could be hungry

A dreamfeed could be the answer. We’ve found that growth spurts and teething can increase appetite so it may be hunger stopping them settling in to a deep sleep or keeping them awake. It’s true some babies do go all night without a top-up bottle but you know when you know your baby best and sometimes a feed is necessary.

A comforting scent

A tip from the health visitor. When your baby is very young try hanging a garment that you’ve worn over the cot. A t-shirt or jumper etc, something that smells of you. Sometimes your scent can be enough to calm them and soothe them back to sleep.

Hot and bothered

We all sleep better when the temperature is just right? Well, your little one is no different. Things like teething can increase a baby’s temperature so it’s important to dress and cover them accordingly.

Naps – A relaxed baby sleeps better than a grumpy baby

Someone asked us if we’ve tried keeping our babies awake during the day so they will be tired at night and sleep through. This does not work – DON’T omit naps in the hope that your baby will sleep longer at night, they become overtired and it takes longer to settle them. An overtired baby is a grumpy baby – and a grumpy baby will not sleep.

Learn to spot the ‘over-tired’ clues and act fast

We’ve all seen it. Either in our own bad tempered child or others and it always prompts the same response ‘they’re just tired.’ Often this means you are already in the trouble zone and a downward spiral of grumpiness and bad behaviour is on the cards. Try and spot the clues early and be prepared to bring bedtime or nap time forward. Act fast – start your routine early and nip it in the bud. Putting an exhausted, emotional baby to bed is often futile and will lead to frustration in both of you.

White noise for a noisy house or neighbourhood

If you find general house noises or outside noise like traffic, barking dogs etc. are affecting your baby’s ability to get to sleep, why not try using white noise to mask potential disruptions. White noise is similar to the noise you hear on a tv when there is no signal. It is a blend of sound frequencies and is found to be relaxing for babies. Reminiscent of the comfort and security of the womb, white noise provides a mask that shields baby from peaks in volume or sounds that would normally trigger an alert in our brain. This was successful for us on the nights when our youngest really wouldn’t settle.

Stay calm & have patience – sleep training takes time

This is the hardest thing of all to do when you are tired but very important. Your baby picks up on your mood, breathing and body language. When all you want to do is shout “Just sleep!”, take some deep breaths, try and relax and think good thoughts or avert your mind from what is happening.