Baby sleep tips are one of those things that you Google when you are expecting your first child and often never revisit. Baby Sleep is one of the most important things for parents to educate themselves on, for two main reasons:
- Your baby’s safety. This is your number one priority and taking on board some important baby sleep tips can help you to lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
- Your own sanity. Yep, you read that right! Getting your baby into a good (and safe) sleeping pattern, will help you to get a better nights sleep yourself.
Here are some of my own baby sleep tips, as a mum of four.
I’m not one to brag, but my children all love their sleep and have all had great sleep patterns, even as babies.
My oldest, slept through the night from just 6 weeks old.
My premature twins slept through the night from 3 months old.
My little boy slept through the night from the day he was born.
However, this is not the norm. The majority of babies don’t sleep through this early, so do not worry if yours doesn’t. I just got lucky and birthed lazy children!
Please note that the baby sleep tips in this post are shared from my own experience as a mum. I am not a health professional and my advice should not be taken as medical advice. If you are concerned that your baby is sleeping too much, please see a doctor straight away.
Baby Sleep Positions
It’s really important that your baby sleeps in the feet to foot position. This means your babies feet are at the foot of the bed. This stops your baby from slipping down under the covers and overheating.
You should put your baby down to sleep on their back. As newborns aren’t able to roll over by themselves, they need to be on their backs, so that their airways are clear.
The Lullaby Trust recommend that your baby should sleep in their own bed and not co-sleep with you. This is so that they don’t get too hot, slide down under the covers, fall out of bed or get rolled on, by you or your partner.
You should use lightweight cellular blankets, to prevent overheating or suffocation. A brilliant alternative, which I used with all my babies, are Grobag baby sleeping bags. These are also endorsed by The Lullaby Trust.
Some newborn babies sleep better when swaddled. Check YouTube for how to swaddle properly and make sure your baby’s face and head are not covered with blankets.
DO NOT USE COT BUMPERS!
I don’t care how pretty you may think they look!
These have been known to kill babies through suffocation, strangulation and overheating.
Babies do not need pillows or duvets. Avoid using these.
Remove toys from the cot before your baby goes to sleep.
Baby Room Layout
For the first six months of their lives, the safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own cot, in your bedroom.
The optimum room temperature for a baby to sleep in is 18-21 degrees. Make sure your baby is not right next to a radiator or in direct sunlight. There are guides to refer to, based on room temperature, so you can tally up how many layers of clothing and blankets your baby will need or which tog of baby sleeping bag to go for.
Gaps around the cot should be at least a foot wide or under an inch. This is to prevent an older baby from getting their head stuck if they try to climb out of the cot.
Have a dimmable lamp to hand for night feeds. You may also want a drink for yourself and something to keep you awake whilst you are doing night feeds – whether that’s a crossword, a TV or a kindle. I used to write blog posts and tweet the 3am club! It’s dangerous to fall asleep whilst feeding your baby.
Do not store carrier bags or nappy bags in the baby’s room. I’ve read of incidents of these blowing across the room and suffocating babies in the night.
Blackout blinds will help your baby sleep and train their brains to associate daylight with daytime. However, make sure they are either cordless blinds or fit a cord safety device to prevent strangulation. Make sure windows are locked and that windows are not accessible to a crawling / climbing baby.
Baby sleep monitors and movement sensor alarms
When my oldest daughter was just 8 weeks old, a friend of ours tragically lost their baby to SIDS. From that point on, I did not sleep. I was up 10-15 times per night, just checking that my baby was breathing. I couldn’t afford a movement monitor at the time and it affected both my own sleep and my mental health. When I was pregnant with my twins, I knew I couldn’t go through that fear and that lack of sleep again. So I invested in Angelcare baby monitors with movement sensor alarms. These are not mandatory but they gave me real peace of mind. I could sleep at night, knowing that if for any reason one of my babies stopped breathing, an alarm would sound, to wake me up.
These baby sleep tips would not be complete without me mentioning a few things you will need to know, about movement sensor alarms.
If you have twins, these alarms will only work if your twins are in separate cots and the cots are not touching. Bear in mind that you will need to play around with the sensitivity on both alarms, to make sure that one monitor is not picking up the opposite baby.
The alarm will sound if your baby rolls off the sensor pad. Be prepared for this and try to stay calm and not panic, when it goes off. If your baby genuinely needs first aid, you will need to stay calm and in control, but the majority of alarms are false alarms. If you get a lot of false alarms, adjust the sensitivity.
Make sure you fully read the installation instructions and that all cables and cords are stored securely out of the reach of the baby and other children.
Baby Bedtime Routine
It’s well worth getting your baby into a good bedtime routine. It helps them to unwind and get sleepy. Many people choose to do a bath before bed, but for my children, baths always made the hyperactive, so we moved bath time to the mornings. I’ve always read a story to my children at bedtime and given them cuddles with their milk. Whilst a baby might not understand the story, they love the sound of your voice and it’s a lovely way to bond.
Baby sleep tips aren’t just for bedtime. Young babies will nap a lot during the day and as they get older, naps will become less.
DO NOT leave your baby alone to nap in a car seat or on a sofa. This is dangerous. Make sure your baby is laying flat in a moses basket, crib or cot for their nap. Stay with them or check on them frequently.
Refer to baby sleep guidelines for your baby’s age, so that you can make sure your baby isn’t napping excessively during the day. Too many naps will affect night time sleep patterns.
Is it safe for my baby to sleep through the night?
Now this happened with my youngest baby and it was just pure luck, but this leads onto something important I’d like you to note. If your baby does sleep through the night from birth or from very young, you need to make sure that they are still getting the right nutrition. This was something I checked with my midwife and a doctor, as I was worried. If your baby is not waking for a night feed, this is fine as long as they are making up for that during the day time. My son was having a feed at around 10pm at night and he was waking for his first morning feed at 6am. He fed two hourly during the day and had a healthy and consistent weight gain throughout his infancy. If your baby is sleeping for long periods and not gaining weight, or not making up for missed feeds during the day, please go and see your GP, midwife or health visitor.
Gina Ford books
The books that became my bible with all four of my babies, were Gina Ford’s Contended Little Baby Book and A Contented House with Twins.
Now before you launch into an anti-Gina speech, hear me out…
I HAVE NEVER left my baby to cry or tried the cry-it-out method.
I’ve heard a lot of people disregard Gina Ford books, because they assume it’s all about leaving your baby to cry. If you think this, then I feel you’ve probably misinterpreted the book. The theory behind Gina Ford’s routines, is that your baby actually wont scream and cry loads, because they are “contented”. The routines mean that your baby is well fed, well rested, well stimulated and has lots of skin to skin contact. All your babies needs are addressed in these routines.
The routines are quite strict, so I personally would recommend keeping the principles and the time gaps the same, but slightly adjusting it to suit your family life. I stuck quite rigorously to the routines with my first three children, but I pushed everything back an hour, so we’d be starting our day at 7am instead of 6am. This worked a charm for us.
Obviously this isn’t going to work for everyone, but I’d always recommend these books as a great starting point for understanding a baby’s needs. There are not just baby sleep tips, but also baby feeding tips, bonding tips, nap time tips and also things like how to keep your baby entertained.
As my twins were premature and low birth weight, I had to stick to a two hourly feeding routine to begin with, a three hourly feeding routine after that. And then once the were a healthy newborn weight, I transitioned into the Gina Ford twin routines. My youngest baby demand fed for the first few weeks of his life too, and then I switched to the contented little baby book routine.
So there you have my top baby sleep tips. I hope you will find some of these useful.
If you have any baby sleep tips of your own that you’d like me to add to this post, please feel free to add them in the comments below!
There’s another post on baby sleep safety on the Emma’s Diary website, which you can visit.
*This post is marked as an AD due to the collaboration with Emma’s Diary and the link to their website. However, all words and opinions in this post are completely honest and entirely my own.