5 Tips for Laying Down a Solid Sleep Foundation for a Baby

5 Tips for Laying Down a Solid Sleep Foundation for a Baby

Are you in the midst of sleep deprivation because you have a little one that just won’t sleep and wakes multiple times at night? As a baby & toddler sleep consultant, I hear this problem a lot and you’re not alone. If you have a baby younger than 12 months of age, this is completely normal. Babies need a lot of support to help them sleep, especially newborn babies (0-3 months old). This is because they are born without a well-established circadian rhythm or internal biological clock. It takes time for them to develop a consistent sleep-wake cycle.

It is around 5-6 months of age that they are able to have more consolidated naps during the day and some can have longer stretches of sleep at night from 3 months of age. However, every baby is different and they each have unique sleep needs. Laying down a solid sleep foundation from the beginning can help your child sleep better and achieve longer stretches of sleep at night. 

Here are my top 5 tips for laying down a solid sleep foundation for babies:

1. Establish a consistent Bedtime Routine: 

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine has been shown to improve a baby's sleep. This routine might include activities like a warm bath, gentle rocking, reading a bedtime story, and dimming the lights. Consistency helps signal to the baby that it's time for sleep.

2. Create a Sleep-Inducing Environment:

Ensure that the baby's sleep environment is conducive to rest. This means keeping the room at a comfortable temperature (20-22 °C), making sure it's dark (darkness helps promote sleep hormone, called melatonin), and using a white noise machine to block out external noise. Make sure that if you are using a white noise machine that it plays the whole night and not on timer. When it is on timer and suddenly stops, this can wake your baby up.

3. Safe Sleep Practices:

Follow safe sleep guidelines to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies should be placed on their backs to sleep, and the crib should be free of loose bedding, pillows, and stuffed animals. Research shows that following these guidelines significantly lowers the risk of SIDS. For more sleep safety guidelines, visit https://rednose.org.au

4. Daytime Exposure to Natural Light: 

Exposure to natural light during the day helps regulate a baby's circadian rhythm. Spend time outdoors with your baby during daylight hours, and let natural light into your home during the day. This can help babies differentiate between day and night, improving nighttime sleep. Moreover, sunlight enhances Vitamin D levels, which plays a role in the production of melatonin.

5. Watch your baby’s wake windows:

Wake windows refer to the length of time a baby can remain awake between sleep periods, indicating their energy and capacity to stay awake. This is to help them build sleep pressure, making their little bodies tired and in need of sleep. It is important to watch your baby’s wake windows because if they have too much, they can become overtired (this is when their bodies produce a hormone called “cortisol”, which is a wake up hormone), making it very hard for them to settle and go to sleep.

Below are the recommended wake windows range by age:

0-3 months: 35-90 minutes

3-4 months: 90-120 minutes

5-7 months: 2-3 hours

7-10 months: 2.5-3.5 hours

11-14 months: 3-4 hours

14-24 months: 4-6 hours

Remember that every baby is unique, so it's essential to be flexible and adapt these tips to your baby's individual needs and temperament. Consulting with a paediatrician or a qualified baby sleep consultant can also provide personalised guidance based on your baby's specific circumstances.

If you need more information on Newborn Sleep and how to lay a solid sleep foundation for your little one, I have Sleep Guides available for you from Newborn to 24 months of age. These Sleep Guides everything you need to know about baby & toddler sleep and provides you with research-based knowledge and age-appropriate strategies to help not only your little one, but the whole family, have restful nights.

If you’re wanting 1:1 support, I also have packages available for you. Individual babies have unique sleep patterns and needs, and what works for one may not work for another. My 1:1 support will help you in choosing a responsive method that sits comfortably with you and best suits your bub and their temperament. These packages are for 5 months to 4 years old. To book, click here

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