Safe and healthy sleep for your child is a topic that interests all parents but also raises many questions. Where and how do infants and toddlers sleep well and safely? How do I protect my child from sudden infant death syndrome? What is the best sleeping environment for my baby? What are bedtime rituals? This guide is intended to give you tips on what you can do to ensure that your baby sleeps well and safely. With our tips, you can successfully get your baby to fall asleep and sleep through the night.
ALL TOPICS AT A GLANCE
EVERYTHING AROUND BABY SLEEP - AN INTRODUCTION
Hardly any other topic is discussed as much as a baby's sleep. In the first few months, they sleep a lot, as they collect a lot of impressions during the day and develop incredibly quickly. That costs energy. However, there is no such thing as “normal” baby sleep because infants sleep differently than adults.
It is like a little miracle when you wake up and notice that your child has slept through the night for the first time. Many parents long for it. However, it can take a while before this point in time occurs. So don't be unsettled if your friends ask you: "Your child hasn't slept through the night yet?"
Every child is different and has to get used to the day-night rhythm first. So, it stands to reason that a whole series of questions arise. For example, how much sleep is normal or from what point in time the baby will sleep through ... We would therefore like to answer the most important questions about baby sleep in our sleep-bag magazine. If you pay attention to a few things, you can make it easier for your darling to get used to their sleeping times.
BABY SLEEPING BAG OR SLEEPING BAG WITH FEET?
Both versions - baby sleeping bags and sleeping bags with feet - are good options and safe. You don't have to decide for or against one of the two variants. Both sleeping bag options protect your child from overheating / hypothermia while sleeping and prevent sudden infant death.
In general, baby sleeping bags are recommended up to 12 months of age. If your little darling feels comfortable in it, nothing speaks against using baby sleeping bags beyond that. Slumbersac also offers baby sleeping bags for older children.
A sleeping bag with feet is just as comfortable as a baby sleeping bag, but it also has leg extensions and openings for the little feet. Since the legs are not covered by the sleeping bag, your child can move around and kick freely in it. At night you don't have to worry about them “losing” their blanket while sleeping. The sleeping bag with feet for older children is also particularly comfortable in the morning. You can then move around in it and, for example, crawl or walk without any problems.
A sleeping bag with feet is a nice alternative or addition to the baby sleeping bag for children who love a lot of freedom of movement. The majority of our sleeping bags with feet are also equipped with foldable cuffs that you can simply put over your feet. This way, your little one can leave their feet “outside” at night without freezing. Many models have practical anti-slip nubs under the soles so that the little ones can also find a secure footing in the slumber bag.
Depending on the season, you should have summer, winter and year-round sleeping bags at home so that your baby neither sweats nor freezes.
WHY DOES MY BABY WAKE UP AT NIGHT?
The fact that your child wakes up at night is due to two factors. For one, they have not yet got used to the day-night rhythm that adults have, because there was neither day nor night in mum's belly.
On the other hand, the nocturnal awakening comes from the times when our ancestors slept in the open air or in caves. As a result, there was always the risk of being attacked by a wild animal. It is therefore normal for babies to wake up regularly at night and make sure that they are not alone and defenceless.
The more secure your little darling feels while sleeping and the further their day-night rhythm develops, the better they will be able to relax and sleep through the night.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN BABY SLEEP COMPARED TO ADULT SLEEP?
Baby sleep differs from that of an adult in many ways, because infants are born “unfinished”, so to speak. In the first few years they therefore grow very quickly - including their brain, which doubles in size within the first 12 months of life. That's why it's only natural that your little darling has to process so many things while sleeping.
In contrast to adults, infants do not sleep peacefully in deep sleep, but in a kind of maturation sleep. The little brain arranges experiences, emotions, and impressions and tries to process them. The body also remains very active, which is why your little one is very easy to wake up during these sleep phases.
HOW YOUR CHILD SLEEPS IN THE FIRST YEAR OF LIFE
Learning to sleep is a process your child needs to learn, just like walking or speaking. Some children go through it faster and others slower. In the first few months of life, your child still needs a lot of sleep. At the beginning they sleep in small stages, which means that they wake up several times during the night and have to learn the difference between day and night first. Most of the time it is because of hunger that your little one wakes up and makes itself known to you.
In the course of their first year of life, the stages of sleep will increasingly shift into the night and your sweetheart will sleep better and better. This is also due to the fact that they are more and more oriented towards the times of day, i.e. light and dark, and can usually sleep between six and eight hours at a time after a year.
HOW MUCH SLEEP IS NORMAL?
Generally, the length of sleep varies from person to person. As different as babies are so their sleeping habits. There are significant differences even in newborns. Some babies only sleep 11 hours a day, while others 20. Babies that are six months old still sleep 9 to 17 hours a day. Slight deviations up or down are also normal. So, you don't need to worry if your baby needs a little more or little less sleep.
In general, however, it can be said that children sleep a lot during their first year of life. Your brain and body develop incredibly quickly during this time and the many new impressions your sweetheart collects are exciting but have to be processed, which uses a lot of energy.
Therefore, it is perfectly normal for your newborn to sleep approximately 16 to 18 hours a day for the first few weeks. This corresponds to the sleep-wake rhythm that it had shortly before delivery.
Every two to four hours they wake up to cuddle with you or to have a drink. The older your child gets, the longer they can stay awake for. By around three to six months, they can be awake for up to five hours and sleep a little longer in return. By the age of twelve months, many children are already sleeping six to eight hours a night.
FROM WHAT AGE DOES MY BABY'S SLEEP-WAKE RHYTHM CHANGE?
After a few weeks, your sweetheart will get used to your daily rhythm more and more. They will notice when it’s worth being awake and when it’s time to sleep.
The adjustment isn’t so easy for little ones at the beginning, because they don't get tired like an adult when it’s dark. In the beginning, babies need routines to get used to bedtime. If you can manage these routines you can help your child to better settle into a fixed sleep-wake rhythm.
WHEN DO BABIES SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT?
Babies don't sleep all night in the traditional sense. Rather, scientists speak of little "sleepers", provided that they slumber from midnight to around 5 o'clock in the morning. It happens, more often, that newborns and infants wake up regularly at night. Boys wake up more often at night than girls, just like breastfeeding children from a statistical point of view wake up more often than non-breastfed children.
Your baby can sleep through the night if they have several sleep phases in a row. With a third of children this is already the case between the sixth and ninth month. Then your child will be able to go back to sleep on their own, even if there is a break or two between sleep cycles and they wake up.
So you can be rest assured if your child does not sleep through the night even after a few months, only after 12 months do around half of all children sleep through the night. But even then it can still happen that your sweetheart wakes up more often during the night, e.g. due to teething or illness, and the sleep rhythm changes in phases. Since even older toddlers occasionally experience development spurts, even these cannot sleep through (any longer) at times.
DOES THE BABY NEED FIXED SLEEPING TIMES?
Yes, but it’s not possible to train your baby to have "fixed" sleep times like an adult. Your baby always needs different recovery and sleep phases, some of which differ from day to day. In general, toddlers sleep a little longer at night, up to an hour in the morning, around two hours at noon and another one to two hours in the afternoon.
So it’s more harmful to put your little darling to bed at a fixed time of the day without showing signs of tiredness. Better to wait and see when your baby is getting tired and then prepare for the bedtime rituals.
HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD GET USED TO BEDTIME?
It can help your child if you always get up and go to bed at about the same time. It can also be helpful if you offer them their meals at regular times and keep them busy during the waking hours.
By walking together and seeing daylight, your baby will get better used to the difference between day and night. When you realise that your sweetheart is tired, you should react and put them in their crib. This way they can better establish the connection between it’s bed and falling asleep.
A bedtime ritual like an evening bath, singing a song, or cuddling can also help them get tired. If your darling wakes up during the night, it is advisable not to turn on any bright light sources so that they can find their way back to sleep more easily after breastfeeding.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET MY CHILD TO REST?
You can help your darling learn to sleep by creating an environment in which they feel safe and comfortable. It also helps if you can tell when your sweetheart is really tired and then put them in their crib. If your child is overtired, it will be much more difficult to get them to sleep.
To prepare them for bedtime, it can be helpful to establish a fixed rhythm for eating, playing, and sleeping that your child can get used to. This way they learn that it’s worth being awake during the day and sleeping at night, because nothing exciting happens then.
You should use the last hour before going to bed to calm down. Fixed rituals can help you and your little one, such as bathing together, singing a song or reading a bedtime story. This will give your sweetheart the feeling of reliability and closeness, which will make it easier for them to set off to the land of dreams.
If your little darling should wake up during the night, it will help if you exude calm and only talk to them in a low voice. If you still need to breastfeed them, you can do so with the lights dimmed so they'll get tired again quickly. Falling asleep will certainly not be difficult for them with a full tummy and the loving words of mum or dad.
In addition to these things, you can also contribute something to a comfortable and peaceful sleep through your child's sleeping environment. It is best to ensure that there is little light and noise in the room in which your sweetheart should sleep. It also helps if the room is ventilated so that it is neither too warm nor too cold there. The ideal sleeping temperature for babies is 16 to 18 degrees.
So you can give your sweetheart a peaceful night that is getting longer and longer for both of you, after which you can look forward to the next day together.
HOW DO I KNOW MY BABY IS TIRED?
Your child will give you some clear signals when they are tired and want to take a nap. The better you get to know each other, the faster you will be able to recognise them. This is important so that your sweetheart doesn’t get overtired, because if that happens, then it’s even more difficult for them to fall asleep than if they’re not tired.
Clear signals of tiredness are that your child is becoming very calm and that they are interested in their surroundings, ie, drops their toys, yawning, rubbing their eyes, frowns and clenches its hands into fists. Sometimes they can make small, jerky movements to show you that it's time to go to sleep.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY BABY WAKES UP AT NIGHT?
The purpose of waking up at night is to help your child make sure that they can feel safe. Therefore, you should always be aware if your child wakes up and signal to your child that you are there and have noticed that they have woken up.
It is not always necessary for you to pick them up or breastfeed them. Sometimes it’s enough to gently pat your little darling on the head. It often helps when your child sees you, you stroke them and talk to them in a low, soothing voice.
So you don't have to automatically pick up or breastfeed your baby every time you wake up. You should also give your sweetheart the chance to learn to go back to sleep on their own.
However, we advise against letting your baby scream, because babies have no sense that their parents are simply "sleeping" or that they are next door. That is why it’s vital for them to feel parental closeness in an "emergency" (for them this includes waking up at night).
HOW DO SLEEP PROBLEMS MANIFEST THEMSELVES AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT?
Waking up at night is not unusual for babies and in itself. It only becomes critical when you as parents are permanently at the limit, or if your baby reacts apathetically during the day and shows no interest in their surroundings. Even if your baby gasps at night, you should react. This behaviour may be a sign of sleep apnea (SAS) that needs to be investigated by your paediatrician.
WHAT CAN I DO IF MY CHILD DOESN'T SLEEP?
If your little one is unable to fall asleep on a regular basis, you should try to improve your evening routines. Establishing routines is particularly important for your child at the beginning of learning to sleep. If the waking phases are exciting and demanding enough for your little darling, and you then signal to them through the established actions that it is now bedtime, this can help them fall asleep.
If that works and your baby just doesn't want to sleep for one evening, it can help if you keep busy with each other, but without causing any excitement. Otherwise, this could have the opposite effect and encourage them to stay awake.
Sometimes it helps to just wait until your little one gets tired in the evening. If your child cannot sleep acutely, you could read them something soothing and wait another half an hour. Find something quiet to do, like reading a book or singing a lullaby. Don't put yourself under pressure and take the time it takes for your little one to fall asleep. Sometimes a lot of new impressions come into play during the day, which can take a little longer to process.
It is also difficult to switch to winter time, which is often not that easy, especially for babies and toddlers. Many children react to the forced adjustment of their internal clock with sleep problems, tiredness and loss of appetite. Make this transition as gentle as possible for your child. One or even several weeks can pass before the perceived time of their own day and night rhythm in children matches the actual time again.
WHAT SLEEPING POSITION IS BEST FOR MY CHILD'S SLEEP?
Always lay your baby on their back to sleep for the first 12 months. The supine position is the ideal sleeping position, it is best suited for a calm, healthy and safe baby sleep, as this is where your child gets the most air. The prone position is unsuitable as a sleeping position, as it carries the risk of not getting enough air. In the worst case, this can lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
SHOULD MY BABY SLEEP IN THE DAY AS WELL?
Yes, depending on how old your baby is. Newborns usually sleep evenly throughout the day and night. If your baby is a few months old, their sleep hours will shift more and more into the night. Nevertheless, your little darling still needs two to three daily naps.
As soon as your child can walk, they can usually get by with an afternoon nap.
If the child does not want to sleep, do not force the afternoon nap, but try to "pull the brakes" and help your child to calm down. Even just taking a break will do them good, for example when you can comfortably look at a book or listen to a story from a CD.
SHOULD MY BABY SLEEP WITH OR WITHOUT A DUMMY?
Offering a dummy to your baby is a decision you should make for yourself. A dummy has no effect on whether your child sleeps better or worse. If you give them a dummy, chances are your baby will spit it out or fall out of their mouth at night. For this, however, you can practice with your child during the day and, when they are old enough, just give them the dummy. Little by little they will learn to put it in their mouth themselves. If you have achieved this goal, you can put several dummies in their bed for the night so that your sweetheart can always find one if they should have lost their dummy.
CAN I TEACH MY BABY THE LUNCH TIME SLEEP?
It is advisable to start the afternoon nap project after the age of 1 and only if your child sends you the appropriate signals. This can be, for example, that their morning nap is shifting further and further back. The introduction of the afternoon nap is then usually uncomplicated, as your little one feels a natural lunchtime depression after eating.
Similar to going to bed, you can introduce a little ritual that resembles your evening routine. You can put the child awake in bed and show touch: we are there.
Gentle caressing, the hand in bed or on the baby’s belly shows closeness. Soft noises, a music box, or a softly sung lullaby signals to the baby that it’s not alone. Stay with the child until they fall asleep. Sit quietly next to your child or lie down next to them.
Not too many stimuli and plenty of fresh air also helps restless children fall asleep faster. Sometimes it’s enough if you put on their pyjamas or their sleeping bag.
DO BABIES SLEEP BETTER IN THEIR OWN BED OR THEIR PARENT’S BED?
If possible, you should offer your child a comfortable and secure place to sleep right from the start. However, your child will only be aware of the sleeping environment when it is around six months old. Before that, it can make sense to keep your baby close to you at night. After you have weaned, your baby can slumber in the cot in the bedroom or children's room.
WHICH BEDROOM IS SUITABLE FOR MY CHILD?
It is particularly important for your baby's sleep that you make their sleeping environment safe so that they cannot overheat or suffocate. During the first months of life, a bassinet or a cradle is sufficient for example in the master bedroom.
Then, when your child gets bigger and needs more space, you can put them in their cot. This has the advantage that your baby can grow in the cot therefore it can be used for a long time. In addition, the lying surface is often adjustable in height so that it can be adapted to the size of your child. This is also easy on your back when you take your sweetheart out of bed at night or put them back in again.
SHOULD I COVER MY CHILD AT NIGHT?
We recommend using a baby sleeping bag instead of a duvet from birth. Even if your worries are that your child will catch a cold, it is better to do without a duvet and pillow in the first year of life. Both pose dangers for your darling.
If they fidget freely in their sleep, they might be chilly because they can’t cover themselves up again. There is also the risk that your baby will pull the blanket over their head while they sleep and therefore get poor air flow.
By the age of one, their reflexes and motor skills are so developed that you can use a duvet for your child if you want. Until then, a baby sleeping bag is the best alternative.
SHOULD I USE A NEWBORN SLEEPING BAG?
The advantage of a sleeping bag is that your child will not freeze in it, as they won’t be able to push it off of them. Even in summer, the temperature doesn’t get too high in it, as you can choose between many variants of summer, winter, or year-round sleeping bags. The TOG value helps you decide what to wear for your baby in the sleeping bag. The sleeping bags with detachable sleeves are very practical and versatile.
When making your selection, it is important that you make sure that the neck circumference of the sleeping bag is in no way larger than the head circumference of your baby. Otherwise, they could slip in. The sleeping bag is the ideal size for your baby when there is about 10-15cm of space in the footwell to kick around.
Which sleepwear suits your child needs will depend on the season and the room temperature. The selection of the right sleeping clothes inside the sleeping bag depends on the season and the temperature in your baby's bedroom. In general, you are doing everything right with cozy and comfortable clothing.
In the sleeping bag, your baby can for example wear a sleep suit. This is very comfortable and, depending on the material, is suitable for both the summer and winter months.
If you don't want to use a romper, you can also put an inner sleeping bag in the normal sleeping bag. For you, it offers the advantage that you do not have to interrupt your baby's sleep for long if you have to button the press studs of the romper after breastfeeding or changing. You simply put your child back in the baby sleeping bag and they can go on sleeping happily.
HOW DO I DESIGN THE BEST SLEEPING ENVIRONMENT?
You should make sure that the room temperature is between 16-18 ° C. It's neither too warm nor too cold for your child. When you do your evening ritual, speak in a low, soothing voice so that your child can relax and become tired.
Even if you would like to make it particularly comfortable and cozy for your sweetheart, you should avoid cuddly toys, blankets, and sheepskins.
If you want, you can put a night light in your little one's room so that they are not afraid if they wake up during the night. A night light should have a calming effect and give the child the feeling of not being alone.
SHOULD THE BEDROOM BE DARKENED DURING THE DAY?
You have to decide for yourself whether the bedroom should be darkened. So that your baby develops a day-night rhythm, it can make sense not to darken the bedroom during the day.
However, in the summer months it may be necessary to lower the blinds or curtains. On the one hand, you prevent the bedroom from heating up too much due to the heat. On the other hand, it is light outside for a very long time in summer, so your child sleeps better in the darkened room in the evening.
HOW IMPORTANT ARE SLEEPING RITUALS?
A bedtime ritual can help your child calm down. This can be for example a lullaby or a music box. Provide them with closeness and security. By cuddling and soothing your child, you make this a beautiful moment that connects the two of you.
Falling asleep rituals are important as they provide orientation for your child. Wrapping, creaming or cuddling signals to your darling that the time for bed has come. Routine processes are therefore an important prerequisite for healthy baby sleep.
DO TODDLERS HAVE TO EAT FOOD AT NIGHT?
There are different opinions and views on this. Some doctors and experts recommend trying night-time breastfeeding from eight weeks of age. Others believe that infants should be breastfed at night until they are six months old.
Ultimately, there is no scientific evidence to support these recommendations. Since the child's development takes place in phases, each child has a different nocturnal need for food. The way you sleep also affects the feeling of hunger at night. Breastfeeding children who sleep with their mothers take in around a third more calories than babies who sleep in an extra bed or in their own bed.
WHAT WILL HELP WITH SLEEPLESS NIGHTS?
Dark circles after sleepless nights are more the rule than the exception for new parents. Cheer up: These phases are completely normal and will eventually pass by themselves. If your child does not bring you to rest at night, you should try to adapt your sleep a little to that of your newborn. For example, try to catch up on lost sleep during the day and leave the housework behind for a day. Maybe you have a partner and family who can support you at night.