What we actually mean by the term ‘sleep problem’, is of course a problem with falling asleep, but also with going back to sleep when they wake up. Many babies can self-settle quickly and without the need for parental help, but some need to learn this skill. You can help by providing a sleep environment that is conducive to sleep. Here are some tips that might help:
- Make sure that baby is not too cold or too hot. Sleeping bags are perfect for this, of course. Baby can’t kick a sleeping bag off and get cold, and by using the right weight of sleeping bag, you can easily ensure that they don’t overheat.
- Put baby to bed while they’re still awake. This way, they’ll know that they can fall asleep by themselves again if they wake. You can gently stroke them if they have difficulty settling, but try to enable them to settle without you if possible.
- Don’t be afraid of background noise, as long as it’s not too loud! A little noise lets baby know they’re not alone. Some people use a music box or similar, but a hairdryer or even traffic noise can actually be quite soothing!
- Some babies might whine themselves to sleep, and of course some may cry. Deciding whether to let baby cry is a very personal decision, and there are persuasive arguments both ways. If you do decide to let baby cry, make sure that there is nothing else (other than tiredness or just wanting your attention) that is causing the tears. If they’re hungry, feed them, if their nappy’s full, change it, and them settle them back down again with a minimum of fuss.
- A bedroom environment that signals clearly that it is sleep time really helps. A darkened room is a good sign to baby that it’s sleep time, for example. Try to avoid too many stimuli in the bedroom, and if possible allow some fresh air in.
- Set up a regular bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible. That way, going to sleep just becomes the next thing that baby does after putting on their sleeping bag and having a cuddle or a story, for instance. Some babies like an evening bath as it calm help to calm them, others will find it too exciting. Experiment, find what works for you, and then do it every night!
- During the night, try to feed them in quiet surroundings, don’t have lights or the TV on as this might cause them to wake up more fully. Similarly, avoid changing nappies for the same reasons, unless it is really necessary!