Top Tips For Helping Your Baby Sleep By Age
If you’re the proud parent of a new baby, one of the biggest conundrums you may be facing is how to get your brand new tiny little person to go to sleep – and stay asleep!
Researched, written by Amber & The Team
Updated on May 24, 2023
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There are many common reasons that babies are wakeful in the night or struggle to get to sleep in the first place, and it’s important to listen to your intuition in terms of the best steps to take.
Below you’ll find the most frequent issues that your baby may be experiencing that could be wreaking havoc with the household’s sleep, by age, and what you can do to help.
Babies 0 to Two Months Old
It’s normal for newborn babies to be asleep more than awake – very young babies may sleep up to sixteen to eighteen hours in a twenty-four-hour period.
At this age, their tummies are tiny, meaning that they’ll need to feed often to get the nutrients they need, which is the reason for frequent night wakings.
As they grow, this will settle, and they’ll begin to sleep for longer stretches at night and be awake for longer during the day.
In the meantime, you can help your new baby to sleep by ensuring that their sleeping environment isn’t too hot or cold and that the bedding they’re using is keeping them at the right temperature.
Babies Three to Six Months Old
By around four months old, your baby may be sleeping for an eight-hour stretch (or longer, if you’re lucky) during the night and being awake more in the daytime.
If your baby is still struggling to get to sleep at night or is waking frequently, there are some steps you can take to help things along.
1. Start a Sleeping Routine
Having a consistent bedtime routine is a great way to help your baby wind down and signal that it’s time for rest.
A great routine can be used to settle and reassure your baby, even when you’re away from home – kids love familiarity.
A bedtime routine for a baby could include, for example, the offer of a feed, a nappy change, a cuddle, and finally, putting your little one down to sleep when they show signs of being sleepy.
2. Allow the Opportunity for Self-Soothing
It’s normal to want to rush to pick up your baby the moment you hear them fussing.
However, doing so and/or offering a feed as soon as they wake in the night could create a sleep association – meaning that, when they wake in the future, they’ll struggle to settle without a cuddle and a feed.
It’s a good idea to give your baby a few minutes to settle themselves if they wake during the night – you may find that after a very short time, your little one drops back off to sleep without the need for any intervention.
Babies Seven to Nine Months
Between the ages of six to twelve months, some babies will drop their night feed and sleep all the way through the night – maybe up to twelve hours at a stretch.
However, just when you think you’re through the worst of parental sleep deprivation and are sailing on smoother seas of slumber, along comes the 8-month sleep regression to take the wind out of your sails!
Sleep regressions occur in tandem with important brain developments, and the one that typically hits around the eight-month mark usually crops up around the time your baby is starting to expand their language skills and becoming much more mobile, scooting, crawling, and pulling themselves up.
Now, you may find your baby, who was previously in a great sleep routine, starts fussing more around sleep time and once more waking up in the night.
It’s important to remember that, although this period may be difficult, it’s likely to be short-lived, and you should be out of the woods within six to eight weeks.
In the meantime, your baby may find it comforting to simply have you near them as they fall asleep.
If you want to avoid creating a sleep association that may be difficult to break in the future, you may wish to avoid offering feeds or rocking your little one to sleep: instead, pick them up to soothe them, but settle them back down before they fall asleep, and repeat this until they drift off.
Babies Nine to Twelve Months
Once they’re around twelve months old, babies need about twelve to fifteen hours of sleep in total, made up of a long night’s sleep and one or two daytime naps.
Making sure your baby is getting enough to eat during the day is important to prevent hunger pangs from waking them in the night.
You may want to offer them milk, porridge, or mashed banana before bed to help them sleep through.
During this period, your baby is also likely to be trying lots of new foods for the first time: discomfort caused by constipation can often be a problem that causes young children to find it hard to drop off to sleep.
Resolve this by ensuring your baby is getting plenty of fluids during the day and is eating a range of fruit and veggies and foods high in fiber.
If you’re worried about this, it’s vital to speak with your healthcare practitioner.
The Takeaway: Restful Nights for Happy Days
All parents know that unsettled, broken sleep can be one of the hardest parts of becoming a new mom and dad.
Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to help your baby to sleep better and promote healthy sleeping habits.
And if all else fails, and you find yourself pacing the room soothing a fussy baby at 2 am?
Keep in mind: this stage, too, shall pass.
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