How do I get my baby to sleep?

Baby sleeping

According to ISIS, newborns sleep for around 75% of the day. Sounds a lot, doesn't it? Alas, they go on to say that they tend to sleep "for only 2-3 hours at a time" and that "13% of babies had not regularly slept through for 5 hours or more by the age of 1 year." Not surprisingly, it's the subject of endless discussion among bleary-eyed new parents.

Have you found yourself trawling the internet in the middle of the night, hoping someone out there knows how to help you your baby catch some z's? We've garnered the knowledge of Mumsnet to give you answers to some of your most pressing questions about sleep.

When will my baby sleep through the night?
Why is my baby waking up at night?
Is co-sleeping with my baby safe?
How do I get my baby to take daytime naps?
Should I use controlled crying?
Should I give my baby a dummy?

 

Q. When will my baby sleep through the night?

The average newborn sleeps for 16 to 20 hours a day - but not all at once, and not all at night. By three months, many babies are managing a good old stretch of night-time sleep (maybe even up to six hours between feeds). Over the following months, they should be getting into a slightly more predictable routine and sleeping less during the day, and more at night.

At six months, most babies are sleeping 11 to 15 hours a day – of which 8-10 hours should be through the night, and the other hours spread over a couple of daytime naps. By age 1, their night-time sleep should increase to around 11 hours.

For more information about your baby's sleep development, see these pages:

 

Q. Why is my baby waking up at night?

Of course there's no one reason why a baby might wake up - they're an unpredictable breed. But whatever the reason, another parent is sure to have experienced it. The main thing is to have a few tricks up your sleeve which will help your baby relax and soothe them back to sleep. 

 

Q. Is co-sleeping with my baby safe?

Mumsnetters (like most parents – and midwives) divide rather rigidly into two camps on the subject of co-sleeping.

Those who oppose it tend to point to some of the very real dangers involved with sharing a bed with your baby. They also suggest that it can be harder for your child to sleep on their own as time goes on – resulting in unwanted bedtime battles when they're older.

On the other side, those who support co-sleeping argue that bedsharing benefits both the child and parent. Babies can often sleep better alongside their mother, and if you're breastfeeding then not having to get up each time they want a feed can help ease some of your tiredness as well.

  • If you like the idea of snuggling up with your baby of a night, take a look at some of the things you need to think about, plus other parents' views, on co-sleeping

 

Q. How do I get my baby to take daytime naps?

The key to naps is timing. Try to figure out when your baby is naturally sleepy and work around this. If they're too awake, or equally if they're over-tired, they're more likely to fight against sleep.

By around four to six months, most babies are ready for a nap a couple of hours after getting up, and another just after lunch – each lasting up to two hours. Some will want a third nap later in the afternoon as well, but others plough through the day with very little sleep.

If your baby sleeps well at night and seems to get through the day without much (or any) napping, don't fret. But if your baby seems irritated or unsettled during the day, it's worthwhile encouraging napping when they obviously need it.

 

Q. Should I use controlled crying?

Miserable babyControlled crying involves leaving your baby to cry for a length of time before soothing them. Although this can be difficult at first, many agree that after a few nights they notice the impact on their child's sleep and daily routine as well. If you're going to give it a good go, you need to be consistent. It's not going to be easy from the offset, but if you want to try it properly you need to fully commit.

Please note – controlled crying is not recommended for babies under six months. There are also other sleep training methods which may be better suited to you and your child.

 

Q. Should I give my baby a dummy?

Another controversial subject which sees parents divided; what reasons do people give for their strong support or dislike of dummies?

Those in favour argue a dummy is the only way to soothe in some situations, is preferable to a child sucking their thumb, and can lower the risk of cot death.

In opposition, some claim that dummies affect teeth and language development, ignore the real reason behind a child's distress, and become a dependency which is hard to remove.

At the end of the day, it's up to you.

 

Still looking for answers? Put your questions to Mumsnetters on our baby sleep Talk board.

 

 

 

Last updated: 24-Feb-2014 at 2:41 PM