Settling your baby

Many newborns enjoy the security of being wrapped to sleep which also minimises them startling in sleep which can disturb them.

Patting or rocking your baby in their cot or crib may help them settle and drift into sleep. Some mothers will cradle or rock their baby until they are sleepy then put them into their bed using patting or rocking to complete the cycle. Many babies enjoy some background noise as life in-utero is quite noisy.

Music or commercial ‘white noise’ DVD’s can be helpful. For the ‘stubborn little settler’ using a warm bath and perhaps a gentle massage before sleep may help them relax enough to let sleep take over.

Daily massage can assist with sleep time as well; it’s well-known that massage for adults can decrease cortisol and increase serotonin and dopamine, making us feel more relaxed and peaceful.

Babies benefit from very simple massage techniques as well, even with 10 to 15 minutes per day. A relaxed baby is also likely to digest their milk more efficiently.

It’s important to be aware of when to massage your baby, aiming for a window of opportunity when they are alert but calm, rather than exhibiting any ‘tired signs’.

Deep water relaxation baths can be used to good effect—try the laundry tub! Babies love the feeling of being completely weightless in the water.

How long is normal for a baby to settle?

This very much depends on the baby’s age; a newborn will typically settle for 1 to 3 hours between feeds and may even sleep up to 5 hours once in each 24 hour period.  

Newborn babies will also typically experience an unsettled period, once in each 24 hours which will generally last between one feed cycle and the next.

This is a normal developmental stage for young babies but can be extremely challenging for their parents! A bath, walk in the pram or just a cuddle may help pass through this period.

Older babies generally reduce the number of day sleeps but these sleeps then may be longer in length of time. A few start sleeping through the night between 4-6 months, however many of these babies will then only have short day sleeps.

Should we stay really quiet while the baby is asleep so we don’t disturb them?

No; babies learn to sleep in a normal environment.

Often the babies that sleep best are in the noisiest, most hectic households.

You want your baby to be able to settle in a variety of settings, including when you are out and about so carry on as normal when at home.

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