13 need-to-know tips for getting your baby to sleep
Getting your baby to nod off is one of parenthood's biggest challenges – so we've pulled together the best advice from Mumsnetters who have been there, done that and got the dark circles around their eyes to prove it
1. Switch off the lights
''Closing the curtains and turning the lights off really helped my son to understand it was sleep time – everything was much more calm and quiet after that.''
2. Know there's a reason for those long, long feeds
''Cluster feeding really helped my nine-day-old son to settle down. He was feeding really heavily but I got used to it and he starting sleeping for hours through the night as a result.''
3. Perfect your burping technique
''Make sure you wind her really well in those last feeds of the day – if they have trapped wind, it will be impossible to get them down to sleep. And, after night feeds, persevere with winding for longer than five minutes.''
4. Go for a splash
''My kids used to love a bath and really splash their legs and thrash about – I'm sure this tired them out. Then I'd give them a feed and a cuddle in almost darkness. This really worked for mine.''
5. Play white noise
''I keep the washing machine or hairdryer on until she's fast asleep. Babies love white noise because the womb was a noisy, gurgly place and silence can be scary for them. ''
6. Or sing a lullaby
''I've always found singing lullabies really helps get my children to sleep. Near Christmas it's always O Little Town of Bethlehem but throughout the year, it's favourites like Moon River, Summertime and Somewhere Over the Rainbow.''
7. Stroke their nose
''Gently stroke your baby's nose in little downwards movements. This encourages them to close their eyes and fall asleep.''
8. Try swaddling
''My seven-month-old is addicted to swaddling – she doesn't sleep without it. Don't take some initial tears as a sign that your baby hates it; mine cried at the beginning and we thought he didn't like it, then a midwife showed us how and it turned out that we were not confident enough at swaddling and we just needed to be more patient with letting him settle.''
9. Take the bed with you…
''Try a lambskin. My two slept on them for years and they're so easy to take everywhere. I'd just put it on the floor and they'd settle straight away.''
10. Wait and watch
''Try to avoid immediately picking them up as soon as they start to cry. I used to assume my daughter was crying because she was hungry, but then I started watching her for a few minutes – sometimes she'd just yawn, or tug on her ear, and I'd realise she was just sleepy, and quite often she'd fall back to sleep again.''
11. Relax a little
''Our solution was to let our daughter lead us a bit. There are bad habits that need correcting, but there are also habits that develop simply because different babies sleep differently. We found that relaxing and doing what felt natural to the three of us was the best way to get her to sleep.''
12. Do it again, and again, and again, and… ( you get the drift)
''Even though you might want to rip your hair out at times, keep going with it! It will be worth it when you're sleeping through the night.''
13. And just before they fall asleep…
''My babies have always been put to bed awake and I always used music as a soother. I did this from birth and I found it key to a good night's sleep. It didn't work every time but nine times out of 10 it did.''