How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?
If your baby is constantly waking in the night, your own sleep patterns will be disturbed. Feeling sapped of energy and constantly tired as a result may make it hard to function, as well as make you more prone to depression.
What sleep strategies can I try?
- Make daytime feeds social and lively, and night-time feeds quiet and calm. This will help your baby to set her body clock and learn the difference between day and night.
- Give your baby the chance to fall asleep on her own from between six weeks and eight weeks. Put her down on her back when she's sleepy, but still awake. If you rock or feed your baby to sleep she may start to depend on it, rather than be used to settling herself.
- Set a bedtime routine. Keep it short and simple, such as a bath, a nappy change then into her pyjamas, and a story or song. You could also try massaging your baby. Finish the bedtime ritual in your baby's bedroom and make sure that her room is a pleasant place to be. This routine should last no longer than 45 minutes.
- Give her a security object, such as a baby blanket or stuffed animal. Keep it near you for a while so it becomes mum-scented. If you are breastfeeding, you could try expressing some breastmilk on a small piece of muslin. Babies have a strong sense of smell, and when she startles awake, the smell of you will calm her down.
- Wait to see if your baby settles by herself if she is four months or five months old. If she's crying after you put her down, go to her. Pat her gently and tell her everything's fine, but it's time for sleep. Then leave the room and wait for a couple of minutes, then check again. If after the third or fourth try, you still feel she's getting distressed, gently pick her up to check she's all right. If all is well, repeat the process.
If your baby is older than six months, you may want to try the controlled crying method, which means you leave her a few minutes before returning, but extending the time between each visit. However, you shouldn't leave your baby to cry for long periods at night.
- Cuddle up if you'd like her to sleep in your bed. Comfort her so she knows it's time for sleep. Lie down together and cuddle her, pretending to sleep, firmly letting her know it's bedtime. But make sure you are aware of how to make co-sleeping safe. If your baby is six months or younger, it's safest for her to sleep in a cot next to your bed.
- Share the role of comforter with your partner, so both of you can help your baby fall back to sleep. Once your baby is old enough not to need a night-time feed, she can learn to be comforted by your partner. She might stop needing anyone when she learns there's no food involved.
- Tune in to your baby’s needs. During the day, you could make her feel secure by carrying her in a sling. If she wakes in the night, try to work out why. Is her nappy full? Are her night clothes comfortable? Has she got a cold?
If your baby is still waking after you've tucked her in her age may have something to do with how well she settles. So adapt your approach to her stage of development.
Find out which sleep strategies you can try between: