Contented Baby Sleep: 6 Months And Over
Contented Baby Sleep: 6 Months And Over
Child Sleep Specialist Andrea Grace shows VideoJug users how to create a environment conducive to contented baby sleep for children 6 months and over. She teaches you how to set up a routine and gives other tips which should ultimately lead to a contented sleep for your baby.
Step 1: Routine
It is absolutely vital to establish a great bedtime routine. The best routine provides a familiar series of steps leading up to bedtime and sleep.
These will help your baby to feel safe and sleepy too.
• Timing of the routine is less important than the process of the routine itself. For this reason, start your routine shortly before you know your baby is ready for sleep.
• The bedtime routine should culminate in your baby falling asleep – not coming downstairs to play or join you for dinner.
• Follow a similar bed time “script” by using familiar phrases and actions at key points during the routine.
• Bath every night unless there are genuine reasons why you can't. Sing the same “action” song in the bath each night.
• Go directly to your baby's sleep room after the bath.
• Put him in a clean nappy
• Followed by a Milk feed
• Make time for a familiar bed time story book – the same final one each night, so that it becomes a sleep trigger.
• Then into the cot awake but sleepy, to settle for the night.
Step 2: Sleeping environment
Your baby doesn't need a super plush nursery with all matching accessories in order to sleep comfortably. What he does need is a warm, safe and familiar cot in a familiar room.
It is safe after 6 months to move his cot into his own room or for him to share a room with an older brother or sister.
The room temperature should be around 18 degrees Celsius
Avoid having lots of noisy toys in his cot – but have a couple of safe and familiar toys that he can play with if he wakes early.
Once he is able to stand in his cot, remove the cot bumper. Babies have been known to use this as a step up to climb out of the cot!
Step 3: Putting baby into the cot awake
Remember that sleep happens in cycles and it is normal and healthy for a child to stir or even wake up several times in the night. Problems develop when babies are not able to resettle without help.
It is most important to set good sleep habits from the beginning of the night. This means putting your baby down awake and without you in the room with him.
If you are able to do this at bedtime, there is less chance that he will need to seek you when he wakes up during the night.
Step 4: Dropping night feeds
The key to dropping night feeds lies once again in how you settle him at the beginning of the night. Do not allow him to fall sleep on the breast or bottle at bedtime. If he has a tendency to do this, you need to feed him with the light on and after the feed, introduce a simple picture book to look at together. This will help to break the milk/sleep association. Place him into his cot whilst he is still awake and comfort him there until he has gone to sleep if you need to. Don't be afraid of him crying. He is ok. You are with him, he is just frustrated because he doesn't know how to fall asleep without feeding.
After a couple of nights he will acquire good sleep skills and you should then gradually withdraw your contact and attention until he is settling to sleep by himself.
Each time he wakes in the night, if he is unable to settle by patting alone, offer him either an increasingly shortened breast feed or a small diluted bottle feed. [it is perfectly safe to do this when your baby is over 6 months] After this, he should be placed back into his cot whilst he is still awake. After a period of around a week by which time you will have taught your child the skill of falling asleep without sucking milk, you should no longer feed him during the night.
Step 5: Avoiding bad habits during the night
Occasionally, there are babies who settle independently at the start of the night and are no longer in the habit of taking night feeds, but who still wake up.
The reason for this, more often than not, is that they have got used to some kind of night time ritual involving contact with you. These include:
• Transferring to your bed e