Every mum feels like she’s struggling with baby sleep issues. From the crazy newborn sleep deprivation phase right through to terrible teething and toddler shenanigans.
This is a contribution by Susanna Heiskanen, co-founder of the award winning Tuutu Sustainable Baby Sleeping Aid. Tuutu is inspired by generations of innovation from Finland and is part of every Finnish baby routine. The Tuutu is the go to baby sleeping aid for millions of Finnish parents and Susanna has brought it to Australian parents.
The Baby Sleep Routine 101 Checklist
Are you getting enough sleep with your newborn? Not likely! We all have been there as new parents and at times it’s hard to recognize what is going on with your new baby. A newborn sleep routine is not about self-settling…babies are not able to self-settle when they are born. As parents we need to help them by setting up a routine to help them to settle. This doesn’t mean opting for “cry it out” or “self-settle”, it means a basic bedtime routine that helps your baby predict when it’s time for a nap.
For example, feed your baby, change the nappy, read a book or sing a lullaby and then a kiss and good night while dimming the lights.
The fact is that like adults, some babies are lighter sleepers and even little noise can stir them up. Others can sleep through car journeys, shopping in noisy shopping mall – you name it. However, there are few cues you can follow with your baby to settle them easier to sleep.
Is your baby hungry?
Have you given enough milk? Both breastfeeding and formula babies can be hungry after you have fed them as what was normal yesterday might not be enough today. Feed on demand as babies grow fast and the hunger can vary. Do not feed baby to sleep but put baby down while drowsy and for example rock the cradle to make them fall a sleep.
Check the nappy
If you are satisfied that your baby is not hungry or you have fed them, check their nappy. You would be surprised how often just simple nappy change can improve results. Once nappy is changed is there anything that might make baby uncomfortable to sleep?
Is your newborn comfortable?
Have you swaddled baby too tight, too loose, have you used correct technique? New fabric against delicate baby skin can cause irritation so check the skin to make sure there are not marks or too tight nappy, or swaddling or any other irritation. When you check their skin pay attention to all the folds that you might miss when bathing your baby.
Too cold, too warm?
Check the temperature that your baby is sleeping as it can make difference if the baby is unable to settle to sleep. Are there enough clothes if it is cold night? What about when warm night, have you removed extra clothing? Babies tend to sleep better in slightly cooler than in warm environment. Be aware that babies are not able to control their body temperature when they are born. This is something they will develop with age so it is up to us parents to make sure they have adequate clothing on at all times.
Too much stimulation?
All the noise, touch, voices and lights are stimulation to your baby. Try to have a calm environment with very soft background noise to assist your baby. Darker room is better than light.
Remember that when babies are crying and not settling, at times they just want the comfort of their parent. Babies have got used to your smell, voice and touch and are craving these when unsettled. You can always wait for a moment before going for your baby when they are unsettled, try not to look your baby in the eyes and just gently settle them back to their bed. It is great to rock the baby to sleep but if you continue this beyond 4-6 month the baby gets used to it and you might find that they are unable to fall asleep any other way. How you parent is up to you, some mums believe in attachment parenting and love having a little one sleeping on their chest, others start parenthood as the mean to go on – baby in cot, mum in bed.
What does routine actually mean with a newborn?
Creating a sleep routine for your newborn isn’t about parenting style, it’s about making sure that your baby has all her basic needs met in order to get some good quality sleep – and helping her to know when sleep time is coming. After all, who ever met a kid willing to admit that they’re tired!
Establishing a great routine will be about the baby’s age as much as it is about your parenting style. Baby sleep cycles and feeding needs change rapidly – just as you get that routine down, everything changes until one day, they drop their daytime naps and your whole life is turned upside down! Baby Hints and Tips has some expert advice (and our community weighs in too!) on creating a wonderful routine for babies of all ages.
Baby sleep issues and routines by age
Remember, you are not alone
Those first months of motherhood are always tough. Most women describe the sleep deprivation as something akin to torture! Your newborn sleep routine is the hardest of any stage of parenting (well, the 18 year old all nighter is still to come) so take a big breath and remember that baby sleep does get better. There is always help available, from in house baby sleep consultants, to sleep centres, to nifty products that help calm your baby into a deep and healthy sleep. The first months are tough, but mama, you got this!
Baby Sleep Issues – Advice from Our Community
- I rock Zaliea to sleep in my arms and she sleeps their during the day. At night she sleeps in my bed. I’m trying to get to sleep in her cot. Mother of Zaliea 10 months
- In establishing a routine I found it important to be firm yet still be available if your baby really got distressed. Mother of Xanthe, 10, Dylan, 5, Alana, 3
- YES! Teaching to self settle – taking time & doing it slowly made a bigger improvement than the CIO method which made things worse. Mother of 7, 2.3 years, 5 months
- Jack- waking 8-10 every night at 8 months. Was breastfed so I put him on formula and it stopped. Mother of Jack 2.5yrs Emma 6.5 months
- Yes they both woke/wake through the night but co-sleeping allows me to get more sleep as I don’t have to get up. Mother of Ella 12 years Fraser 8 months
- Yes not easy to transfer when asleep, but would not self settle. Tried cd’s, patting, rocking, etc All that worked with 1 was BF to sleep and when in a deep sleep transfer. 2 BF to sleep and co sleep. Mother of Jake 2 yrs Harry 9 months
- Have only just been able to get her to sleep on her own, and she is now 13 months old. Have given her toddler milk to help fill her tummy as all other attempts with formula and cow’s milk have been unsuccessful in helping her go to sleep and stay asleep. She is very unsettled and a very light sleeper. I find making sure there is background noise helps if there is a loud noise as she is already aware of noise to begin with. Mother of Zeva, 13 months
- Yes, with alethea I used infants friend. Mother of James, 3 and Alethea, 2
- Both of my boys did not sleep full nights or fall asleep on their own until about 16 months old. This was very, very tough for me as I had no support. They eventually found their own way. i think it is a nice way to do it and am now very, very happy that they sleep well and enjoy sleeping. They know i am always and will always be there for them, night or day. it was incredibly difficult at the time, but worth it. i would love it if our society lived more “communally”, if that is the right word, where we all helped out a parent with young children. aunts uncles grandparents and cousins should be involved. that would be nice. nice for mum, nice for baby and nice for the relatives to share the life of a baby. To be part of a community. A close knit family. Mother of mitchell 4 years Lochie 2 years
- Only issue we had was some wind, we just raised one end of her mattress so she was sleeping a bit upright.. Worked like a charm. Mother of Mya – 18 Months
- My youngest I have had problems but i just kept changing his routine and found one that fits. When the sleep problem started through he would be up every half hour at night and never sleep during the day. Mother of leah age 8. emily age 6. maddox age 2 and a half and talon 6 months
- Waking every two hours up to the age of 7 months. Ngala saved my sanity, a day visit was all it took to turn my son around and he now sleeps through the night! Mother of Curtis – 3yrs Calvin 18months
- i had trouble with connor he wanted to always be held so i used to put the top i had been wearing all day in his bed and lay he on top so he could smell me and that seemed to work. Mother of olivia 5, connor 4 and monique 1
- Yes still do, we all sleep in the same bed, she is clingy. Can’t wait for her to want to have her own bed. No idea otherwise as to how to get her out of our bed. Mother of Daniel 10yo Emily 22 months
- At the start – he really needed to be wrapped. Once we got the Miracle Blanket we were right. Mother of Zach 14months
- I have spent a good 4 years researching reading about babies sleep because with my first she was a “bad sleeper” however what i have worked out is that they are “bad sleepers” in adult terms but perfectly normal for what babies and toddlers do which is wake then need our help and support in the dark of night…true sleep maturity like any other development milestone comes around 2years old + ..I saw this with my first daughter we just co-sleep, go with the flow they grow out of it eventually sleep all night in their beds eventually, I call it the wait it out method….its a phase of parenthood you sort of have to accept to go thru and it does pass, its just really important to me that my kids don’t fear bedtime, don’t fear waking in the night and no one comes to them so we follow this approach. Anon
- Another helpful tip for getting a baby to stay asleep for longer is to keep track of the times when they either fall asleep by themselves or stay asleep the longest. Once you’ve determined what hours are best for your baby start preparing them for sleep with a soothing routine, about a half hour before. Julia
Do you have any baby sleep issues tips?