About a quarter of children under 5 have sleep problems. They either don’t want to go to bed or they keep waking up in the middle of the night. When your baby is constantly waking in the night, your sleeping patterns are disturbed, making it tough to function, so here’s a few tips we’ve found for helping little ones sleep at night. We hope some of these are useful for you!
How much sleep does your child need?
During the first 2 months, your baby’s need to eat takes over your baby’s need to sleep. You need to feed him almost every 2 hours if you are breastfeeding and little less often when bottle-fed. At this stage, your baby sleeps from 10 to 18 hours a day, usually 3 to 4 hours at a time. At this time, babies don’t know the difference between day and night. Your baby might be wide awake from 1am to 5am.
By 3 to 6 months, babies sleep for up to 6 hours. But just as you think your baby is under a nice sleep routine, by 6 to 9 months, your baby’s developmental stages can throw things off.
Here is a detailed table of the possible sleep patterns of your baby.
|Age||Nighttime Sleep||Daytime Sleep *||Total Sleep|
|1 month||8||8 (inconsistent)||16|
|3 months||10||5 (3)||15|
|6 months||11||3 1/4 (2)||14 1/4|
|9 months||11||3 (2)||14|
|12 months||11 1/4||2 1/2 (2)||13 3/4|
|18 months||11 1/4||2 1/4 (1)||13 1/2|
|2 years||11||2 (1)||13|
|3 years||10 1/2||1 1/2 (1)||12|
|*Note: number of naps in parentheses|
Make daytime activity more social and lively and night time more quiet and calm. This will help your baby set his body clock and learn the difference between day and night.
Give your baby a chance to fall asleep on his own. Put your baby down when he’s sleepy but still awake. Don’t rock your baby to sleep or feed him because if you rock or feed your baby to sleep, he may start to depend on it rather than getting used to settling himself.
Set a bedtime routine. Keep it short and simple. A good routine might be:
1. take a bath
2. nappy change
4. a story or a song
Give him a security object. Give him a baby blanket or a stuffed animal. Make it mum-scented by keeping it with you for a while. Babies have a strong sense of smell so when he startles awake, your smell will calm him down.
Co-sleep with your baby. If you like for him to sleep in your bed, lie down together and cuddle him pretending to sleep. This will let him know its bedtime.
Meet your baby’s needs. Try to determine why he is waking up in the middle of the night. Is his nappy full? Are his clothes comfortable? Is he sick?
Dream-feed. Many believe the dream-feeding your baby might help if your child wakes up at night hungry. When you are dream-feeding your baby, you direct a late-evening feeding instead of waiting for him to wake up hungry. The extra feeding fills his belly up just enough to earn a bit more uninterrupted sleep.
Set an established bedtime. Experts believe that between 6:30 and 7:00 pm is an appropriate bed time for babies under 1 year old.
Massage. Babies who get massages for at least 15 minutes tend to fall asleep faster than those who are only read of bed time stories.
Don’t skip naps. Naps don’t keep your baby awake at night, in fact it makes him sleep better at night. Don’t omit naps because it is important for his mental and physical growth.
Understand the cues. Instead of waiting for him to completely fall asleep while doing something, look for cues that will tell if he is sleepy. Signs like rubbing his eyes, being whiny, or yawning. Your baby might have a unique cue so do check for that also.