- Even in the early weeks, introduce a consistent bedtime routine for your baby. This familiar series of steps leading up to bed time will help them to feel both sleepy and safe. Include a nice warm bath with a lightly fragranced bath product, lavender is particularly good at encouraging sleep, followed by a massage with baby oil to relax them. After this, read them a familiar book or soothing lullaby – not forgetting lots of loving contact with you. It is a wonderful investment of your time and energy to help your baby go to sleep feeling happy and content.
2. Try to avoid allowing your baby to fall asleep over their bedtime milk feed. Introduce a lullaby, goodnight phrase or picture book to look at together after the feed and before putting them into the cot. This will break the milk/sleep association, which is so common in sleepless babies. Babies who are over 6 months old and are gaining weight nicely rarely require a feed during the night.
3. Aim to always place your baby into her cot whilst they are awake. It is alarming for your baby to wake in the night to find that they are no longer in your arms. If they cry when you put them into the cot, spend a few nights beside them, patting and reassuring them there. Once they feel safe in the cot you can begin to withdraw your presence until they are able to settle to sleep all by themselves.
4. Remember that it is normal and healthy for babies to wake several times during the night, due to the sleep cycles. Babies who are able to re settle themselves are generally those who go to sleep independently at the beginning of the night.
5. Get the daytime naps right. Your baby needs to be tired at bedtime but not overtired. Encourage naps during the morning and early afternoon, but avoid very late afternoon sleeps if your baby has difficulty settling to sleep night.
6. Teach your baby that the cot is a safe and permanent sleeping place. Settle them in the cot at the start of the night, and avoid bringing them into bed with you during the night. This way, they will not wake in anticipation of the ritual of moving in with you!
7. Learn to take advantage of the times when your baby is resting to put your own feet up. This way you will be better prepared to rise to the challenge of the demands of parenting.
8. Provide plenty of fresh air and stimulation for your baby during the day. Not only will this provide vital clues to help establish a day/night sleep schedule, but it will also help them to expend their energy reserves and aid restful sleep.
9. Make bed time a happy time of day! Even though you might be worn out and ready for a break, turn off the TV, put your phone away and give them your undivided attention for half an hour or so. Give lots of cuddles and smiles and this will help them to fall asleep feeling secure and happy.
10. Once your baby is settled, take a few moments to care for yourself. Even though you might be beyond tired, reward yourself with a nice warm bath, a good film or book and an early night!
As sleep experts JOHNSON’S® has studied more than 45,000 babies, observed more than 300,000 sleep sessions and helped mum with more than a billion baby bedtimes. JOHNSON’S® clinically proven 3-step bedtime routine engages the senses and helps baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer2:
Bath: Start your bedtime routine with a warm bath to gently cleanse baby’s skin and begin
getting them ready for bed.
Massage: A massage, as part of a bedtime routine, can help baby sleep better. Your touch
and familiar scents can make baby feel happy and relaxed, enhancing baby’s sleepy mood.
Quiet Time: The moments before bed are an opportunity to help baby wind down further
through quiet time activities, such as reading, singing or listening to music.
Research shows that after just seven days, babies following the 3-step bedtime routine woke up in a better mood, woke up 38% less frequently and spent 32% less time awake. And, when baby sleeps better, mum benefits too – compared to before they followed the routine, mum’s felt on average 45% less tired, 54% less angry and 22% more energised.