Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Help your child get a good night's sleep

Ask any new parents how they're doing, and you can guarantee that within 30 seconds, the conversation will turn to broken nights. So just how much sleep should you be able to expect?

Birth to 6 months

Newborns don't know the difference between night and day, and often baffle their parents by sleeping for long periods during the day, only to be awake for hours at night. Also, new babies often wake because they need a feed, as they only have little tummies.

In her book, The Complete Sleep Guide for Contented Babies and Toddlers (Vermilion, £9.99), Gina Ford suggests that babies who weigh over 10lb are putting on enough weight each week and following her routine, may sleep through the 'core night' (11pm to 5am) from 6 weeks. By 10 weeks, her plan is that babies start to sleep from 11pm to 7am.

Certainly by 3 to 6 months, your little one will hopefully sleep for reasonably long periods through the night. But if she's determined to keep you both awake, how do you reclaim your nights?

Chireal Shallow, of Naturally Nurturing sleep clinic (, says: 'To help your baby feel secure, recreate the conditions of the womb. Swaddle him, just like he was snug inside you, and make sure his Moses basket is cosy. If he's warm and sleepy in your arms, being moved to a cool mattress can be a shock.'

'To settle him, put a hand on his chest, lean down and put your cheek next to his, then make a 'shh, shh' sound. When he stops crying, stop all of these. He'll learn you're there for him when he's upset, but that he can go to sleep on his own when he's calm.'

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