You’ve fed him, changed his nappy and given him a cuddle, but he’s still very much awake. So just what is keeping him awake?
Get the right number of naps
Naps are essential for your baby’s wellbeing, as they give him time to organise his thoughts, increase his appetite and put him in a better mood.
Strange though it may sound, naps also help your baby sleep better at night. Denying him naptime during the day makes him overtired and hard to settle at bedtime, so make sure he gets the right amount for his age.
- A newborn will sleep when he needs to, so don’t worry about a structured routine.
- From three months, try to encourage three daytime naps – morning, midday and early afternoon – with two hours between the final nap and bedtime.
- From six to nine months, aim for two naps – mid-morning and after lunch – with three hours between the final nap and bed.
- From nine months plus, one post-lunch nap is ideal. Missing this leads to a rise of sleep hormone cortisol, so he’ll sleep badly and wake up early.
Make your baby’s cot comfortable
Keep everything simple. Cuddly toys are of little benefit in the early days. Instead, pop in a comforter or blanket that smells of you.
Young babies often find being swaddled comforting or try a baby sleeping bag to keep him snug.
Once your baby is over 12 months, you can use a pillow and duvet. Just make sure he doesn’t get too hot.
Discover the new wake-up routine
Anytime after 6am is an acceptable time for a baby to wake. Rather than making a fuss about early waking, be calm. Look at his daytime nap routine and adjust it if necessary.
For the over-twos, try a sleep-trainer alarm clock, so he knows when it’s time to get up, or put him to bed earlier. An added issue can be the clocks changing.
Your baby doesn’t have active control of his circadian rhythm, so may be confused by the clock going forward or back.
The week before the change, put your baby to bed 10 minutes later if the clocks are going back, or earlier if going forward, each day. This way he’ll get used to the change.
When teething affects your baby’s sleep
Most babies have cut their first tooth by six months and he may have teething pain for up to two months beforehand. No one knows why some babies seem to breeze through the transition from being all gum to toothy smile, while others seem out of sorts for weeks, with frantic hand-chewing, red cheeks, perma-dribble and disturbed sleep.
If your baby is over three months, try teething gel or granules at bedtime to help relieve pain. For night awakenings, go for infant ibuprofen to help soothe pain.