Teaching positive settling associations from the get-go helps your baby to self settle to sleep from as early as week one. In fact a baby of this age, once fed, burped and wrapped up for bed, shouldn’t have any issue settling to sleep.
Settling issues generally happen in the first few months if a baby hasn’t fed enough, is digestively uncomfortable, has not had enough waking hours to be tired enough to sleep or is not in a secure sleep position.
As your baby grows, regularly putting your baby down to sleep whilst still awake, but relaxed and calm, at night and for day naps encourages self settling.
I advise to keep a consistent sleep position day and night, unless you are out and about with the pram. Ideally sleeping in their own personal space with curtains drawn to dim the light for naps and completely blacked out at night.
A swaddle and a cuddle is the only sleep prop I use, the swaddle becomes the settling que and aid for the newborn stage up to 3-5 months. A swaddle keeps a baby feeling safe, secure and cuddled to sleep but mainly used to stop the startle reflex from waking your baby unnecessarily.
If you have swaddled, cuddled to calm and put your baby down for a nap and then he or she starts to cry, allow them a few minutes to settle. Use my 2 minute rule on settling and waking. Picking babies up and down will only cause confusion. Your baby needs to build confidence and be allowed the opportunity to settle himself. If your baby is not settling after two minutes, try my shush and hold technique. Put your hand firmly on their body and cheek-to-cheek shush until they calm, then release slowly and back out of the room quietly. Your shushing voice needs to be louder than baby’s cry. For older babies I find a deep hum works better.
If you jump to your baby’s every shout and are unable to wait to see if they can settle themselves, they will be reliant on you as the settling tool and the time taken to settle to sleep will increase with age, which results in the stories you hear of people pushing buggies around the streets for hours at 4am or driving around at midnight, nobody wants that!
Rocking to sleep, unfortunately, is also teaching your baby a way of settling which again with age, the time taken to rock to sleep gets longer and longer until you are unable to put your baby down unless they are being rocked.
Factors to consider when you settle a baby to sleep:
Milk or food intake
It’s hard for a baby to settle if they’re caught between being tired and hungry; no settling technique will work if your baby t’s hard for a baby to settle if they’re caught between being tired and hungry; no settling technique will work if your baby hasn’t had enough milk or food. Make sure you feed until full at each day feed. Always offer both breasts and check your milk supply by expressing after feeds. If milk intake is too low, increase the amount if giving a bottle or try topping up after breastfeeding if you suspect a low milk supply.
A gas free baby.
It’s hard for a baby to settle if air/wind/gas is trapped due to not being burped successfully or frequently during feeds. Air travelling through the intestines and out the other end can cause pain and discomfort for newborn babies. Wind frequently during feeds: every 1oz on the bottle if under 8 weeks old, and every two to five minutes or when sucking becomes inactive on the breast. The time and quantity of milk taken between wind breaks increases with age and as their stomach strengthens.
Tired enough to sleep?
Some babies are born able to stay awake for 2 hours each feeding period during the day. Do not assume a newborn only needs or wants to eat and sleep. Having some time awake after feeding helps to alleviate wind and ensures baby is full and has mostly digested their milk before naptime. This is also the best time to have playtime as, once fed and winded, your baby is content to play. Often babies on my routine have as much as 6-8 hours awake and playtime by week 2. Make sure you cuddle and calm before putting to bed, but avoid letting them fall asleep on you (unless having a skin-on-skin nap together)
Falling asleep on Mum or Dad to then be put down, increases the risk of waking when left in the crib, waking up and realising they have been put down and not woken where they have fallen asleep
1. Keep baby’s room as dark as possible for night feeds.
2. Don’t bring your baby out of the room to watch TV whilst feeding, or have stimulating music or lights on.
3. Get yourself prepared before going into feed and reacting to your baby to avoid overstimulation, even if this means preparing a bottle while your baby is still crying.
4. I always swaddle babies at night until they are solidly sleeping through the night. It’s common for babies in the first few weeks to not like the process of being swaddled, much as a newborn does not like getting dressed, bathing or even a nappy change but once swaddled with their arms tucked in, they will sleep peacefully for longer periods.
5. Change the nappy before the night feed so as not to stimulate at the end.
6. For the last 5 minutes or 1oz of the night feed, baby should be re-swaddled to achieve a calm transition back to a Moses basket or cot.
Tuck your baby in.
Newborns startle and have no control over their movements. If they are not tucked in the moro/startle reflex can wake them or make it increasingly difficult to settle. Always tuck newborns in around their shoulders and keep them well tucked into the sides of the basket or cot as this will make them feel cuddled and secure.
I can help you achieve a full night’s sleep by focusing on your baby’s digestion, teaching positive associations surrounding feeding and sleep with structured days and baby led nights. The “no cry” sleep routine is bespoke and flexible to your baby or child’s needs.
You might also be interested in Self Settling To Sleep Plan.
Watch our Miracle Swaddling Baby Demo Video