Helping your Baby Achieve Healthy Sleep Patterns

Before putting your baby to sleep, ensure they are comforted and calm as they will always settle better.

If your baby is distressed, help to calm them with close cuddles and gentle rocking, so they are more able to naturally drift off to sleep. The more your baby feels that sleep is a non-threatening event, the easier settling will become.

It is easy to get stuck in cuddling or feeding your baby to sleep, but it is avoidable by helping your baby achieve healthy sleep patterns.

If you cuddle or feed your baby until almost asleep, then place them into their cot. Follow this with keeping your hands over them (as if they are still being cuddled) so they are aware you are close by. As they settle you can slowly withdraw your hands. The aim is to calm them and gradually withdraw as they grow older, so they learn to settle to sleep alone.

Very young babies will often feed and fall asleep. As they grow they may feed, and stay awake for a short time, then fall asleep again. As your baby grows you will probably see a pattern of your baby feeding, interacting with you, then running out of energy and being ready for sleep again.

When they wake they will need another feed, which is known as the ‘feed, play, sleep’ pattern. This will happen naturally over time, so don’t feel that you should hurry your baby, or train them to sleep when they are only young.  This pattern is suited to older babies, so you will get there eventually. See more on establishing baby routines here.

It is important to allow your baby to arrive at the ‘feed, play, sleep’ schedule on their own. Hurrying your baby into a sleep pattern that is not developmentally suitable may disrupt important developmental stages between you and your baby.

Sleep needs to be recognised by your baby as a non-threatening activity. Nurturing a calm and comfortable sleeping environment will enhance your relationship with you baby, and their relationship with sleep.

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