Baby sleep problems are a common and exhausting dilemma faced by lots of new mums, made all the more frustrating ironically by the lack of sleep you’re getting yourself!
In a bid to answer the most frequently asked baby sleep questions, we spoke to Pampers sleep expert Wendy Dean to give us some baby sleep advice and share her tips on how to get your baby to sleep.
From dealing with babies who like to be rocked, or who can only sleep sitting up, to whether or not to use a dummy, she’s given us some great ideas!
My baby won’t sleep in a cot
Every time I put him/her in the cot they wake up and start crying again. How can I get them to sleep in their cot/moses basket?
Each time your little one wakes and starts to cry, pick him up and soothe until he is quiet. Put him back in his cot again before he falls asleep in your arms. Keep repeating until he eventually falls asleep lying down on the mattress. It will be hard work and could take up to 3 hours on the first night, but with perseverance he will start to sleep on the mattress for a good length of time.
My baby is waking early
My baby wakes really early in the morning, but how can I get him/her to sleep longer/later?
Check that your baby really is waking too early. The ‘normal’ range for a baby to wake up is between 6am and 8am. Getting up at 6am may be a bit early for many of us, but you may have to live with it for a bit until your baby gets older. If your baby is waking before 6am, try and leave him/her in the cot to as close to 6am as you can. This is particularly important if they’re not crying as they may well surprise you and go back to sleep. If your baby is crying, then go in and soothe, but keep the lights off and the mood quiet until 6am and if your baby is on solid food, try not to feed milk until after 6am.
I rock my baby to sleep but want to stop
My baby likes to be rocked to sleep, but how can I break this habit without upsetting them too much?
Rock your baby as normal, but put them down before they actually fall asleep. If they cry when they go on the mattress, pick them up and rock again. It will take some time, but eventually your baby will start to fall asleep on the mattress instead of in your arms. You can then start to reduce the length of the rocking sessions.
My baby won’t nap during the day
Or when they do it’s only for 20 minutes. Most of my friends’ babies sleep three hours a day!
Some babies need less daytime sleep than others, so if your baby is happy and content throughout the day, then I wouldn’t worry about it. However, if your little one is cranky and obviously over-tired then they may have an issue with settling off to sleep. A good way to check is to look at bedtime. Do they go down awake with no crying and fall asleep on their own with you out of the room? If not, then work on that and the naps should happen a lot easier.
My baby won’t sleep at night
They keep nodding off during the day, but won’t sleep properly at night. How can I swap them around?
This is usually a problem for newborns who have not worked out the difference between night and day. Wake them every 3-4 hours to feed through the day (but not at night). Make sure that the room is light when they sleep during the day and dark at night. Take them out for plenty of fresh air through the day and attend activities in the local area. These actions combined should mean that they are awake more during the day and then will sleep better at night.
My baby is sleeping with a dummy
They love it, but how can I get them to sleep without it?
Dummies can be useful up to around 4 months, but after that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. If a baby falls asleep with the dummy in, then when they wake through the night (which all babies do as part of their natural sleep cycle) they look for it again and can’t get back to sleep without it. There is also good scientific evidence that babies who use dummies experience more coughs, colds, chest infections, ear infections and stomach upsets than babies who don’t. The best way to get rid of a dummy is to just ditch it. Most babies have forgotten about it in around 3 days.
I sometimes feed my baby back to sleep
Is that a bad thing?
Obviously very young babies need to feed through the night. However, if each time they fall asleep they do it on the breast or bottle, they lose the ability to fall asleep without milk which has implications when they get older and no longer need a night feed. If possible try and rouse your baby before you put them in bed, so that they then have to re-settle themselves to sleep.
My baby’s nappy needs changing in the night
My baby’s nappy leaks at night because it gets so full. I don’t want to change them in the night because it wakes them up. Is there any other solution?
If mums use a good quality nappy, like Pampers Baby Dry, it should not be necessary to change the nappy all night because of the advanced liquid-holding technology built into the nappy. If it does leak, it maybe that mum is not using the right size. Babies come in all shapes and sizes which is why there is an overlap in the weight ranges on the Pampers products. If you are using a size 3, but your baby is also in the weight range for a size 4, consider trying that size.
I’m worried about my baby rolling over in their sleep
My baby rolls onto their front, gets stuck and screams until I go in as they doesn’t know how to roll back yet. What can I do?
This is a frustrating time and most babies and parents go through it. Each time your baby gets stuck, swiftly turn them over without making too much contact and then leave the room again or go back to bed if they’re still in with you. Repeat as many times as necessary until they go back to sleep. Through the day include lots of tummy time so that they can practice rolling back the other way. It is a phase and as long as you don’t introduce any ‘props’ such as feeding each time they get stuck or popping a dummy in, it will pass.
Are cot bumpers safe?
My baby gets its legs stuck in the cot, but I don’t want to get a bumper because I’m worried about their safety. What can I do?
Each time your baby gets stuck, move him/her back to a comfortable position, quietly and in the dark. When they get older this will no longer be a problem because they will be able to adjust and fall back to sleep on their own. It could take a few weeks.
If your baby also bangs his/her head when stuck and you’re worried, there are now several products on the market which wrap each individual cot bar and so prevent any suffocation risk. This sort of bumper also can’t be used as a leg-up to climb out of the cot!