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Gentle ways to encourage better baby sleep

Just the very mention of sleep training, and some may immediately think of leaving babies to cry and denying them hugs and milk. This is not what any parent wants for their child but often their exhaustion leaves them no other choice.

Here we discuss the many factors involved in disturbed bedtimes and waking and why establishing a bedtime routine is so important.

Reassurance and routine

Babies and younger children mostly wake at night because of developmental needs. They may be hungry, thirsty, wet or soiled, and cry out to have their needs met. As children grow, they can develop anxious feelings about bedtime. They may start to feel alone and need to know that you are close by for reassurance.

Establishing a bedtime routine, such as dinner, bath, story and bed, is key to getting a good night’s sleep. By having a consistent routine, your child will soon learn what to expect, and this can help them form a sense of security and comfort in the predictability of knowing what will happen next.

Bedtime routine checklist

Seven checks to your child’s bedtime that may make a difference in helping them get to sleep securely and safely.

1. Comforters

If they have a comforter or special blanket, make sure it’s in their bed. If possible, have a duplicate in case their favourite comforter gets lost or needs a wash.

2. Soft lighting

Keep bedroom lights soft and low, and use a night light to give your child reassurance.

3. Music

Soothing music can help your child relax. You can incorporate it into the settling down period of bedtime.

4. Temperature

Make sure your child isn’t too hot or too cold. If they kick their bedding off in the middle of the night, try a sleeping bag.

5. Nap times

If your child is having trouble sleeping at night, look at their daytime sleep. Is it time to drop a nap?

6. Bedtimes

If your child is taking a long time to fall asleep, consider moving bedtime a little later.

7. Safe sleeping

Never let your child fall asleep with a bottle in their bed. Ensure that any toys or comforters are safe and there are no choking hazards or long lengths of material.