Humans spend about a third of their lives sleeping, although some people manage on much less. Thomas Edison believed that sleep was a waste of time. However, research shows that sleep deprivation can have serious consequences on memory, concentration, behaviour, mood, judgement, and overall mental and physical health.
With the recent hour change you may be struggling to get your baby back to a sleep routine but fear not as we have some top tips here for promoting sleep.
• Let baby have a daytime nap when she needs it, or she may become over-tired, overstimulated, and difficult to settle at bedtime.
• Avoid putting baby down on a very full tummy (to avoid increasing core body temperature, which will keep her awake).
• Wind baby fully before bedtime.
• If breastfeeding, avoid alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and excess caffeine, which can have a negative effect on baby’s ability to sleep.
• Ensure that the room temperature is neither too hot nor too cold and that baby is dressed comfortably. These checks can make all the difference to sleeping.
• Remove cot bumpers and soft toys. They can raise core body temperature and increase the risk of suffocation.
• Make sure that the room is dark and quiet, so the baby learns the difference between night and day.
• Swaddle baby (birth to 3 months) in a breathable, cotton blanket to remind her of the warmth and comfort of the womb. Do not cover her face or head. Place baby’s preferred sucking hand near her face so she can self-soothe when needed. Tuck the other arm in close to her body. Leave her hips and legs free to flex and move.
• When breastfeeding is fully established, provide a dummy to help baby to soothe herself to sleep.
• Put baby on her back (babies should always sleep on their backs) on a firm surface to keep her spine as flat as possible and to allow her lungs to expand fully.
• Make sure baby’s feet are near the end of the cot. This will prevent her from working her way under the covers where she could suffocate.
Some babies whine for a few minutes before settling, but the sound should not make parents feel uncomfortable. It is not unusual for some babies to take 20 to 30 minutes to settle to sleep. Babies should not be left to cry themselves to sleep for longer than a few minutes. A comforting hand on the baby’s tummy will provide reassurance and comfort.