Here at Pudding HQ we are big believers in creating a nice calm bedtime, because no one can go to sleep if they have been bouncing off the walls for the hour before bed. I am not saying you need to be getting your newborn into a routine the day they come home, at that age they don’t have any idea whats going on and they sleep 20 hours a day anyway. But by around 6-8 weeks its a good idea to start settling them into a bedtime and doing the same things every evening. Even small babies learn by repetition so starting them off with good sleep associations and wind down mechanisms can really reap benefits, especially later on as they hit their developmental milestones and their little brains are turning a thousand miles a minute. How you get your baby to sleep is entirely personal to you as a mum, after all you know your babies little quirks, what they like what they don’t like. My only real word of warning is that if you give them a prop, such as rocking or feeding them to sleep these can be quite difficult to takeaway later on. So if you are happy to rock them to sleep now, you may need to be prepared to do this when they are a lot bigger and its not always easy to rock a 10kg baby to sleep. I am not a huge believer in ‘cry-it-out’ I really believe that if you can get good sleeping habits built in early that this should be unnecssary however; that’s not always the case and sometimes different techniques are required.
Puddings Sleep Inducing Guide
Set a Ball Park Bedtime
By 6-8 weeks your little one has probably developed their own feeding regime, you are probably able to plan a bit more about when their feeds will be in a window of time, for example Pudding normally has a bottle between 6.30-7pm, this is a perfect time to aim for bedtime.
We all know that a bath can help us to feel relaxed and sleepy and most babies are no different. So before that bedtime feed run a nice bubbly bath, some of the bedtime bath stuff smells amazing or if you prefer you could use some aromatherapy oils (I would recommend using one of the vapour thingys or burning the oil rather than putting it in the water). Spend some time looking and talking to your little one, allowing them to kick their legs and float through the water. Try and keep it calm, not too stimulating for them. Most babies only have a very short attention span to 5 minutes in the water is probably all they need and its not like they smell. If you are planning on washing their hair then do this at the end as wet hair can make babies cold quite quickly as they loose the majority of their heat through their head. Once you are finished bathing, wrap them up in a nice warm snuggly towel (I leave mine on the towel rail), the ones with a hood are great as they keep that head nice and warm.
A lot of people go and do a newborn massage class these days which can be great, but you can also look up some videos on YouTube if you need some pointers. The most important thing is not how you massage but that you are touching your baby. Some babies find this very over stimulating so if your baby is tired already or seems to really dislike the massage, keep it short, but don’t give up on the idea, try again tomorrow. When it comes to oil or cream this is personal preference, you know your babies skin, I can say that we usually grease Pudding up in olive oil! A word of warning once oiled babies become slippery wriggly little dudes and you need to keep a good hold on them.
Next up its time to get dressed for bed. I would suggest a layer of barrier cream on the bottom area before you put on a nappy, this means your baby’s skin is protected because you don’t really want to have to keep waking them up for unnecessary nappy changes. Next pick something cotton for bedtime, its breathable and feels nice on the skin, a vest and onesie should suffice, its easier to add an extra cellular blanket to a sleeping baby if the room temp drops than to have to strip layers off if the room is hot. Don’t put a hat on them, this can increase the chance of them overheating.
By this time they shoud be ready for their feed – if you are bottle feeding make sure the milk is nice and warm as this helps aid sleepiness, no one wants ice cold milk in their tummy at bedtime. Breastfeeders just do your thing, but I would suggest offering both sides if you don’t normally. If you are a multi tasking genius or you have an extra pair of hands a bedtime story with the feed is a nice touch, I usually get Pie to sit with us and turn the pages so I can read the same bedtime story to both him and Pudding. Most importantly, invest some time in getting all the post feed wind up so that their is no wriggling and squirming when you lay little one down.
Bed Sleepy Head
The finishing line is in sight! Take baby up to bed, make sure the room is dimly lit, if you use a sleeping bag zip them in, if you are a swaddler get them all sausaged up. Now into the cot, feet to the foot of the bed, toys out the way! Now we have Ewan the Dream Sheep that we put on for Pudding but what ever you decide to use be it a mobile, white noise etc, this is all part of building those sleep associations so that every time you lay little one down to sleep you put the same thing on. I normally offer Pudding a dummy, sometimes she will sometimes she won’t (she can be very contrary), again you know your baby. Then its a quick goodnight kiss and out of the room, leaving them to settle on their own. Usually I find there is a bit of shuffling or cooing but within 5 minutes sleep normally ensues. If there is a bit of whinging just give it a couple of minutes before you go in, obviously if there is full on screaming go back and offer dummy, restart music, speak encouragingly, but try not to pick up if you can help it.
We swear by a dream feed in this house. The idea is that you offer baby a feed as you go to bed, this means that you should in theory get a relatively good sized chunk of sleep. Its not a case of forcing them to feed, by this time most babies will have been in bed 3-4 hours so food wont be far from their minds. Gently offer them a bottle or breastfeed while they are sleepy, if they haven’t done a poo, i wouldn’t worry about changing them (unless you use reusable nappies). Wind and then its straight back into bed, music/white noise on. If you swaddle you might want to just make sure this is still snug. Then climb into bed as quick as you can and cross your fingers for a good 4 hours sleep at least!
We at Pudding HQ hope these steps help you out but we can’t guarantee any miracle sleep solutions here! If you have some top tips you want to share or have some feedback then get in touch with us!