Sleeping soundly: tips to calm your baby before sleep
Ensuring your little one is calm and relaxed before bed or naptime can be challenging, especially if you’re a first-time parent. After you’ve ensured their basic needs such as feeding, changing and temperature are met, here are some simple tips & techniques to help get them to sleep.
What should a baby wear to sleep?
Getting your little one’s clothing right before they head off for bed is crucial. A bodysuit or sleepsuit is a good layer to start with. Whether you choose short or long-sleeved will depend on the time of year and your local climate. A sleeping bag can also be used as it can’t be kicked off by a baby so guarantees safety whilst sleeping. Alternatively, you can choose to swaddle them in a breathable blanket like a muslin as this can replicate the secure feeling of the womb.
Try a soothing head massage to help get baby to sleep
Gently touching and stroking your baby is a wonderful way to nurture your bond whilst helping them relax. It also releases the hormone melatonin which regulates their sleep cycle. Stroking your little one’s head is a simple and effective way to do this. Start from the forehead, covering as much of their head as you can and slowly move towards the back of their neck. You can do this whilst holding them or whilst they lie in their crib. Adding a comforting ‘shh’ or humming sound can help them drift off soundly.
Use calming sounds
Playing soft music or rainforest sounds will help your little one drift off easily. White noise machines can also boost their sleep by creating a comfortable environment that mimics the sounds of the womb. You can choose to buy a special machine or find sounds to download to a phone or even on youtube.
Rocking or walking your baby to sleep
Using movement is one of the most common and effective ways to get newborn babies to sleep, even fussy or colicky ones. Using a hammock, swing or baby-wearing can help with longer sleep whilst they’re still little. You could even opt for skin to skin contact whilst using a carrier around the house to make it more intimate. However, by the time your baby is around 2-3 months old, you should reduce their reliance on movement to settle and use other techniques to soothe.
Getting your baby to self-soothe
From around 5 months, most babies have the capability to fall asleep on their own. Start practising this in the early months by putting them down awake at least once a day - often the first nap is most effective. This technique will help them to work out how to self-soothe.
Lay them down in their crib and leave the room for a couple of minutes. If they’re unable to soothe themselves and become upset, go back in and try non-intrusive methods such as shushing but don’t pick them up. If this still doesn’t work try stroking or patting your little one and leaving them again, before you choose to get them out of bed completely for a cuddle.
Your little one will be sleeping soundly in no time.