Better sleep for babies

Written by    Last updated: September 12, 2007

One of the things that new parents worry about is ensuring that their baby sleeps safely and well. Here are some important tips…

Better sleep for Babies

Some safety tips

In the parent’s room: ideally the baby should sleep in his or her own cot in the parents’ room for the first six months. This allows you to keep an eye on your baby and is considered to be safer than letting the baby sleep in the bed with you.

Back is better: current research indicates that placing your baby on its back is the best position.

Sofas and armchairs: never sleep with a baby on a sofa or an armchair.

Head uncovered: it’s best not to cover the baby’s head during sleep.

Temperature: adjust the warmth of the blanket according to the weather; do not let your baby get too hot. The ideal room temperature for your baby is between 16‐20 degrees centigrade.

Feet: Keep your baby’s feet to the foot of the cot, to prevent wriggling down under the covers or use a baby sleeping bag.

Non‐smoking: Do not let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.

Sharing the bed: This isn’t currently advised due to the increased chance of sudden infant death.

Tips for better Sleep

Night‐time
During night feeds, keep the lights low and speak softly. Don’t change the nappy unnecessarily and put the baby down in its cot after the feed.

Swaddling
Newborns often feel more secure when they’re swaddled. It can help them to sleep for longer stretches.

Daytime activity
Have a lot of activity with brightly coloured toys and with music during the day when your baby’s awake. This way she’ll learn that play happens during daytime.

Afternoon stroll
Take your baby out in the pram instead of napping in the afternoon. The fresh air and activity will help to make his sleep at night easier. Besides, being exposed to natural light may make his biological clock develop more quickly.

Massage
Recent research shows that babies that are massaged daily have lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Use inexpensive oil suitable for sensitive baby skin and make sure that your hands are clean, warm and free of any jewellery. Use soft gentle strokes over the tummy, from the back of the head to the lower back and from the chest to the feet. Repeat all the moves for no more than 15 minutes. Follow with a feed and then bed.

Routine
Start with a nightly routine as early as possible. This is usually a sequence of a bath, feed, cuddle and then tuck into bed.

Settling down
From about eight weeks onwards, you should give your baby the chance to settle herself at night. This means putting her into her cot when she’s sleepy but still awake.

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