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Getting your newborn to sleep

Your wee one will have their own times when they like to be awake and asleep. You might find that by now your baby sleeps through the night, but all babies are different. Some sleep for a long time. Others like to sleep in short bursts. And you’ll find that sleeping patterns change as they get older. It’s easy to say - but don't worry, and try to be flexible and go with the flow. If you’re finding that your little one isn’t a great sleeper, you could get hints and tips from your health visitor or other parents you trust. You’ll find every parent has a story to tell!

Top tips from parents:

Tip #1: Try different things

From around 3 months, you could try a few different ways to help your baby settle and feel ready for bedtime.

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Tip #2: Almost asleep

Try putting your baby down when they’re sleepy, but still awake. That way, they’ll start to connect having a cuddle or a song, or just hearing you chat quietly with them, with sleeping. If your wee one doesn’t like these ideas, don’t worry - every child is different. You can experiment with other ways to help your wee one relax and settle.

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Tip #3: Take care with car seats

As tempting as it is to let your baby snooze away in their car seat, it’s important to always take them out when you get home. Babies can have breathing problems in a car seat if their heads fall forward, so it’s best to put them somewhere that’s safe and flat.

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Tip #4: Night and day

Try teaching your baby the difference between night and day. You can do this by making daytime feeds a bit more fun with talking and playing, and night-time feeds a lot quieter. You can also keep the curtains open during daytime naps, sleep them in a dark room at night, and let them see daylight when they wake up in the day.

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Tip #5: Not too hot, not too cold

It’s important to check your wee one’s temperature once you’ve set them down, to make sure they’re not too hot. You can do this by touching their tummy or the back of their neck. If they’re sweating, or too hot, just take off some blankets. Your baby’s face and head should stay uncovered when they’re asleep.

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Tip #6: Share the load

A problem shared really is a problem halved. If you’re breastfeeding through the night, try and get your other half to do the morning changing and dressing.

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Tip #7: Learn the signs

Try watching your baby closely before they sleep, you’ll soon start to learn the signs that they’re getting tired.

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Tip #8: Me time

While your wee one sleeps, it’s time to squeeze some ‘me time’ in. You could grab a magazine, watch tv, or just get some much-needed sleep.

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Tip #9: Daytime noise

When you finally get your baby to sleep during the day, it can be tempting to tiptoe around them. Actually, it’s good to make some noise so they get used to that being the norm.

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Tip #10: Don't block out the light for daytime naps

You might think it’s a good idea to shut out the light while your baby’s sleeping during the day, but keeping the curtains open means they’ll start learning the difference between day and night naps.

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Tip #11: Soothing your baby into sleep

If your baby is sleepy but finding it hard to drop off, try singing gently, telling them a story, or giving them a cuddle – those wee eyes will start to close in no time.

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What the parents say

“She doesn’t sleep, so she’s up quite a bit. I breast feed, so she feeds off me, so she’s up a couple of times during the night for a feed, and sometimes she’ll just want to stay up and play. So you’ve just got to try and keep it slow, calm her down and keep her relaxed and then she will eventually cuddle in and go back to sleep. But she’s usually about an hour, before she will go back. It’s only usually the one hour she is up a night.”

Kelly, Mum of 1

What the professionals say

"Babies are full of surprises, especially when it comes to sleeping patterns! I've seen a lot of parents who think they have it sorted one night, and are up every couple of hours the next. If your baby doesn’t have a pattern yet, try not to worry. It can be a bit wearing for mums and dads, but it’s completely normal!”

“If you feel you need more help getting your baby settled, or if they are having problems sleeping, have a chat with your health visitor."

"It is likely that your baby may have a very different sleeping pattern to the one you are used to and you could find yourself up more during the night. Try and fit your sleep into the times when your baby is sleeping, even if this is during the day. Just make sure that your baby is safe in their cot.”

Common newborn questions

How do I make sure my baby's safe when they're sleeping?

Newborn babies tend to sleep a lot, just not for long at any one time. There’s nothing more likely to put an instant smile on your face than seeing your little one sound asleep. It’s reassuring to know how to keep your baby safe while they’re snoozing, and you’ll find some great tips and advice to help you right here.

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When should they be sleeping?

Newborn babies will sleep as they need to throughout the day and night. When they’re around three months old, you might find your baby starts to respond to the difference between night and day, and eventually you will all get a bit more sleep. Fortunately as your baby gets older they’ll need fewer night time feeds – some babies will sleep for eight hours or more, although this varies. By four months, some babies may be spending around twice as long sleeping at night as they do during the day. Other babies can take much longer to to reach this stage – but there are no rules, and every baby is different.

Babies will change their sleep patterns, so be open to change too. Things like growth spurts and illness can change how your baby sleeps - but if you have any questions, or want advice on getting into a routine, your health visitor is there to help. There’s also more information here.

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At what age is it ok for my baby to sleep in their own room?

For the first six months, your baby should be in the same room as you when they’re asleep at night and during the day. If they’re close to you while they sleep, you can check their temperature more easily and keep an eye on them. Don’t worry about the noise and light during the day – it actually helps your wee one get used to sleeping at night and being awake during the day. It’s really important that they don’t sleep in a room where people have been or are smoking, though.

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How long can they sleep in their Baby Box?

The Baby Box is a safe and comfortable place for your baby to sleep until they’re getting to the stage where they can pull themselves up. Make sure you position your baby box where you can easily see your baby when they are inside.

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More information:

Find out more about keeping your wee one safe when they’re sleeping during the day at the Ready Steady Baby website. Your health visitor is always there to help, too.

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Sleeping Sleeping tips Baby (0-1 years)

Last updated: 5 Feb, 2021