Top tips for nurturing healthy sleep habits in babies

healthy sleep habits in babies

Sleep is important at all ages, and by following some simple advice and tips you can help your baby develop healthy sleep habits. A big part of this is being aware of good ‘sleep hygiene’.

What is good sleep hygiene?

For babies, good sleep hygiene includes implementing safe sleep to decrease the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (look up The Lullaby Trust for more information) and also making sure baby has an opportunity to sleep well, ensuring all his/her needs are met…

Top tips for promoting healthy sleep habits in babies

1. Make sure baby is well fed

Sounds simple enough? Just bear in mind that hungry babies don’t sleep.

2.  Pause

When baby cries we are programmed to respond similarly to how we would if it was a smoke alarm going off. But actually if you just press the over-ride button a minute, pause and listen you can generally hear what baby needs.

“Neh” – Newborn babies may cry using a “neh” sound this generally means they are hungry. Their cry could escalate quickly showing that they need food now!

“Eh”  – Newborn babies may cry using an “eh” sound could mean they need to be burped.  Good burping means baby will be more relaxed and settle quicker.

“0w” – This sound may show that baby is tired and needs to sleep

3. Pause again…

I have had so many desperate mummies phone me when they have reached a point of exhaustion with a baby at 12 months old who they think should be sleeping all night but may still be waking several times through the night. The most common reason for frequent awakenings is that baby hasn’t learned to connect sleep cycles. This could be because as soon as they have made a sound they have been lifted by very caring and attentive parents. Something as simple as just slowing down your walk to attend to baby and listening to see if it’s a sleepy noise or a “I am fully awake” cry could make all the difference.

I have had so many desperate mummies phone me when they have reached a point of exhaustion


4. Pacifier?

Very often babies like to fall asleep while sucking. They aren’t necessarily hungry, they just want to use the sucking motion to help them drift off to sleep. Introducing a pacifier (you can get very good silicone ones now) allows baby to settle very quickly and independently. There are lots of strong opinions about the pacifier but the latest research suggests that the use of a pacifier decreases the risk of SIDS. This has opened up the debate to a new point of view and you can read more about the use of dummies and SIDS here.

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