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Sleep For Babies

All babies are different but most babies will wake often in the night. Having a baby is tiring and broken nights are not easy. A newborn can sleep anything from 8-18 hours  of 24.

It takes time for babies to get in the habit of being awake more in the day than at night.

One of the first things friends and family ask is often how well your baby is sleeping. Some may have had babies that ‘slept through’ from a very young age. This might make you worry you are ‘getting it wrong’ but all babies are different.

It is more usual for babies to take much of the first year to mostly sleep all night. Some will take longer than this to sleep through. The lack of sleep won’t last forever.

Just like grown ups even when babies have begun to mostly sleep well at nights there will be times when they struggle to get to sleep. Or wake again in the night. It might be because they are unwell, ‘overtired’ or coping with changes.

There are things you can do to support your little one get the sleep they need and cope with your own tiredness too.

 

  • In the early days with your baby it is best to be led by them. Trying to get their sleep pattern to fit in with yours is very unlikely to work and will be stressful for you and your Baby. Keep them close and get to know the ‘cues’ or signs that babies give to let you  know they are hungry, tired or want a cuddle or chat.

    *Click here* to find out more about baby feeding and sleeping cues.

    Rest when you can. If it is your first baby sleep when they do. If you have other children try and build in some rest time where you do quiet activities together.

    Relaxation techniques can help with tiredness and don’t take too long. There are some to try *here*.

    If you live with your partner make a plan together of how you will both fit in rest as well as time with the baby.

    If family and friends can offer help make the most of it. Loved ones like to feel useful. If you have help don’t struggle on your own – this is good for you and for your baby.

     

  • Babies sometimes begin to have some slightly longer periods of sleep at about three months old.

    As you get to know your little ones sleeping and waking patterns you might decide it is time to try and ‘tweak’ them into periods of longer sleep at night. Help your baby know the difference between day and night.

    • When you are caring for your baby in the day have lots of chat and play time. *Click here* to look at our talk and play pages.
    • Don’t worry about household noises like the hoover or the washing machine in the day.
    • At night times keep the house quieter, the lights low and your voice soft.
    • Try and do night feeds in a bedroom avoid TV and other screens as this can be stimulating for baby and make it harder for you to go back to sleep.

    Some babies need more help to get to sleep they may need rocking, stroking or dummies to help them.

    Try and put your baby down in their crib when they are drowsy – it is good if over time they learn to drift off to sleep. This might work some times and not others but your child will be learning that their cot is a nice place to be and that you will come to them when they need you.

  • As your baby gets older you can carry on helping them understand bedtime is coming.

    Babies need a lot of repetition to help them get into a routine. You can begin this by doing the same things at the same time.

    You may notice that there is a time in the evening where they naturally seem sleepier – begin your routine about an hour before this. You can gradually move the bedtime earlier once they have begun to settle down regularly at that time.

    Bath time, pyjamas, quiet cuddles and then bed at similar times every day will begin to give them the bedtime message. It takes a while for it to be a habit so keep going.

    There is so much advice out there about helping your baby to ‘sleep through’. It can be overwhelming. Trust your instincts about what is best for you and your baby.

    Always follow safe sleep advice. *Click here* to read about safer sleep for babies.

    Some advice talks about leaving your baby to cry it out. Research says this is not good for babies.

    Babies rely on their carers to help them feel safe and secure. When babies know that their parents always respond to their needs and their feelings they grow in confidence and are more likely to learn to settle back to sleep quickly. Your baby may stop crying because they lose hope that the people they trust most will come. This might make it harder for them to show their feelings in a healthy way as they get older.

     

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

Alternatively you can go to see your GP to discuss concerns.

   

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