Helping your baby to settle

Settling your babyMost of us need some down time to relax before bed, to help us get a better night’s sleep - and your baby is just the same. Once you’ve gone through their bedtime routine, settling your baby in their cot will encourage them to close their eyes and drift off to the land of nod.

To settle your baby, you can:

  • Put your baby into their cot whilst still awake so they can settle happily to sleep on their own. If you comfort them to sleep through cuddling, rocking or feeding, there’s a good chance your baby will come to always expect this - particularly if they wake in the night
  • When you settle your baby in their cot for the night, or give them their night time feed, it helps to dim the light and talk in a soft voice. This allows your baby to distinguish between daytime and night time
  • Give your baby a favourite toy or comforter. Although you should keep their cot free from lots of toys, one special blanket or stuffed toy is nice to snuggle up to
  • If your baby cries when you put them to bed, give them a few minutes to settle. You might not want to rush back immediately, but at the same time, it’s not ideal to leave a young baby to cry for too long

Tips for difficult settlers

Some babies are naturally good at falling asleep, whereas others may need a little more encouragement to relax:

  • If your baby is finding it hard to settle, you may want to stay with them until they fall asleep, perhaps sitting by the cot or soothing them by stroking their hair or holding their hand
  • As they begin to settle with you nearby, gradually move away from the cot. It may be a good idea to stay in the bedroom area for a while so that if they do wake up or cry, you can go and reassure them. Try saying a couple of words, or give them a gentle stroke of their hand or head, before moving away again
  • Some babies are happier if they can hear household activity nearby, so don't worry about making some noise at bedtime. However, if your baby is unsettled don't bring them back in to the main noise of the house as this is likely to stimulate them too much

Tips for early risers

If your little one is an early riser, this can be made worse in the summer, or on holiday, when the mornings are lighter! You could:

  • Make your baby's room darker with thick curtains or black out blinds
  • Try making your baby's bedtime a bit later - early to bed will almost certainly mean early to rise for most small children
  • If you have more than one child and they share a bedroom, you might be able to encourage them to play and amuse each other in the morning for a short while before they need to wake you up!
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