Sleep expert Jo shares some welcome advice for frazzled parents and tired babies
Sleep problems? Help is at hand! We asked Jo Tantum, This Morning’s sleep expert, bestselling author of Baby Secrets and creator of the acclaimed ‘spaced soothing’ sleep technique, to share her top tips for better sleep, for you and for baby.
1. During the day look for your baby's tired signs, which can be yawning, rubbing eyes and ears, staring into space and, with newborns, rooting for a feed. Then write down the times your baby has a nap, so she won't be overtired.
2. Help your baby learn how to fall asleep without a sleep prop, as this will interfere with their sleep. Sleep props can be feeding, rocking, patting, prams and car seats.
3. Babies work on a natural sleep cycle of 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. So make sure your baby is going to bed 12 hours from waking, otherwise they will be overtired.
“At three months they need a nap every hour-and-a-half after waking”
4. Babies who don't have enough naps in the day will wake often in the night and be awake for up to an hour at a time. At three months they need a nap every hour-and-a-half after waking, and at six months every two hours.
5. A dream feed can really help a baby to start sleeping longer stretches at night. Babies can only sleep one long stretch per 24 hours so it makes sense if it's when you’re having your long stretch from, say, 11pm to 7am. Lift your baby, change their nappy, feed, then resettle.
6. Babies have a light sleep around 5am to 6am, so encourage them to go back to sleep. Treat it as night time. That means no noise, talking, lights, nappy change or feeds. They will soon start sleeping longer.
7. Having a good bedtime routine is proven to help babies settle better at night. So for an hour before bedtime, have a quiet time without noisy toys, TV or screens. Then have a nappy off time (aged from six weeks to six months). After that comes a bath, massage and into pyjamas. Make sure the room is dimly-lit, with soothing sounds. Then feed.
8. Your baby needs to have several triggers before going to sleep. I suggest blackout, wave sounds, a comforter, swaddle or sleeping bag and a story. Once your baby has these things they will sleep anywhere: on holiday, at their grandparents’ house and with friends.
“Having a comforter can really help them settle for nap times and in the night”
9. From four months old babies love to grab and hold things, because they are just realising that their hands belong to them. So having a comforter can really help them settle for nap times and in the night. I always use a muslin square as this is the lightest material you can get and is breathable. Knot it in the middle, so it's safe. You can also put it down your top before you give it to your baby, so it smells of you, as it will comfort them.
10. Use blackout for naps as well as early mornings. Blackouts help a baby to de-stimulate and calm. They don't yet understand that they need to close their eyes to shut out the light like we do. Use blackout for naps in the pram and at home and your baby will sleep better.
See more of her tips at www.jotantum.com