If you’re having trouble settling your baby to sleep or looking to find alternative ways to settle baby if you want to change a sleep pattern, here are some ideas that might help:
Wind down before sleep. Give your baby ample “warning” to prepare for sleep. Start to reduce the noise and activity level as a sleep time approaches. Turn off televisions and maybe put on a CD with quiet music to finish off play time, sit down with baby and even keep your own voice low.
Have a sleep time ritual. This can be whatever makes sense for your own child. It can be changing baby’s nappy, putting them into a sleeping bag or wrapping them, taking them with you to prepare their room for sleep – closing the blinds in their room, turning on a CD, preparing their bed – whatever it may be. By following a predictable pattern you are communicating to your baby what is coming next, and talk your baby through the whole process.
White noise or music. Some kind of quiet, constant noise can help baby fall asleep, and also stay asleep if there are other noises that could wake them, such as siblings, pets or neighbours. This could be a white noise CD which are sold specifically for this purpose, you can also get white noise apps on smart devices, you might want to put on a music cd, or even just the radio off a station to pick up on the “shhhhhh” sound. Fans can also provide a little whirring noise than can settle some babies. You may also want to make a “shh shh shh” sounds yourself to settle baby off to sleep.
Singing softly. Lullabies can be so effective at calming both mother and baby. Sometimes singing a lullaby can bring your own energy and anxiety levels down which helps settle baby. If you are tense and stressed about sleep times, that can flow on to your baby also feeling stressed and tense.
Bounce and rock. If baby is too big to be held and rocked – or you’re too tired to stand – sitting in a rocking chair, on a fit ball, or even on the edge of a mattress to bounce up and down can help baby get off to sleep.
Patting. Some babies, right up into childhood, love being patted to go to sleep. This can be a rhythmic tapping on their back, tummy, bottom, or side (depending on their age and how they sleep). Patting can be combined with any of the above ideas. Patting and rocking can be a very effective combination. Some babies don’t like to be touched when they are trying to fall asleep, so try patting the mattress beside their head, some babies will turn their head to listen to the sound of the vibrations coming through the mattress.
Comfort toys. Some babies love having something to snuggle, rub, or chew while they fall asleep. This can even be a piece of cloth, some babies love towelling texture, so a face washer or hand towel can be an effective and easily replaced comforter. There are also a range of commercially produced baby comfort toys you can buy – but be mindful if baby becomes attached to one item you might want to buy a few spares in case one is lost! Comfort toys may also include a dummy/pacifier.
Feeding to sleep. This is a totally natural and normal way for lots of babies to fall asleep.