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Help your baby become a good sleeper

You can help your baby to become a good sleeper. Some tips that may help you and your baby are:

  • playing with your baby when they are awake during the day
  • following a relaxing bedtime routine - they will soon associate these activities with sleep
  • feeding your baby after a bath or after you change them into sleeping clothes
  • giving your baby time to settle down, they may fuss or cry before falling asleep
  • expecting frequent stirring at night - wait a few minutes to see if they fall back to sleep
  • using a dim light when you feed your baby at night
  • keeping night time care low-key - use a soft voice and gentle movements
  • not changing your baby’s nappy if the nappy isn’t dirty

Encourage night time sleep

Build a routine around the last feed, before you settle your baby down to sleep. Try to leave about half an hour between the last feed and sleep.

This is to avoid a sleep association where your baby needs to feed before going asleep.

Do not talk out loud when you feed your baby at night. Talking may encourage your baby to stay awake. You can whisper instead.

Put the baby into the cot when they are drowsy, but awake.

This is so they fall asleep where they will wake up.

They will associate their cot with going to sleep rather than your arms.

Develop a soothing night time routine so that your baby learns what is coming next. Take your baby to where they usually sleep.

Try to keep chat and play with your baby minimal at night time. Put toys away. Talk quietly and soothingly. Close blinds and curtains.

Keep lights low at night. Turn off overhead lights. Use a dim yellow light or a night light if necessary.

Avoid a blue light as it can make it difficult for your baby to fall asleep.

During the day, play and interact with your baby when they are awake. Taking them outside in the morning can also help. Daylight exposure is important for sleep, so consider going for a walk.

Signs to watch out for

A newborn baby will probably be tired if they have been awake for 1 to 1.5 hours.

There are signs that you can watch out for that will tell you when they're ready to sleep. You can reduce stimulation and start settling them to sleep. Some of the signs are:

  • staring into space
  • grizzling
  • crying
  • frowning
  • arching back
  • your baby can't be distracted
  • they make jerky arm or legs movements

Keeping your baby awake during the day will not help them sleep better at night.

If your baby is overtired it is much harder for your baby to get to sleep.

Coping with disturbed newborn sleep

Newborn babies wake up regularly to be fed. It doesn't matter if it's day time or night time.

You may find this difficult to cope with at first. It can be hard to adjust too, but it will get easier.

Your baby's sleep pattern is probably not going to fit in with your sleep pattern. Try to sleep when the baby sleeps.

Newborn babies will wake regardless of feeding method. Some things that may help:

  • if you have a partner, ask for help
  • ask family and friends for help with chores so you can take a nap

Page last reviewed: 04/12/2018
Next review due: 04/12/2021