Chantal Murphy is a qualified baby and child sleep consultant based in Australia. Her business Baby Sleep Magic offers flexible routines — not ridged schedules! Children thrive on routine and consistency so by following an age-appropriate routine it makes them feel secure knowing what comes next.
This parenting gig, whilst rewarding, can be tough at times, so it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Just remember you’re not alone and to always follow these tips.
Follow a Feed – Play – Sleep Routine:
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For babies, under 6 months it’s not about sleep training, but implementing healthy sleeping habits! There is no one size fits all, however before selecting a sleep training method, it is important to consider what you are prepared to follow through with along with the child’s temperament.
It’s very common for your baby at this age to struggle with napping in their own environment. Practice makes perfect. Even if you do one nap a day in their cot whilst the other 1 in some cases 2 naps are done on the go or on you — that’s better than none. With each and every day you do this they will get more practice.
Self-soothing is when your baby can calm down, relax and go to sleep again in his bed. Babies who can self-soothe sleep for longer periods and have longer total sleep times at night. If your baby associates falling asleep with rocking or feeding, he might want rocking or feeding if she wakes in the night. Of course, it’s completely fine to rock or feed your baby to sleep in the night if this suits your baby and you.
1) Ensure your baby is FULL, or not long ago had a feed before you try for a nap
2) Ensure the white noise on
3) Ensure you darken the room environment where your baby will be sleeping. Be sure to close the door behind you – babies are not afraid of the dark or the room they are in.
4) Complete your bedtime routine. Spend 15-20 minutes winding your baby down in the room they will be going to sleep along with offering them their last feed; change nappy, read a book, sing a song, quick cuddle, then place your baby in their sleep attire. This process would be replicated for nap time, however, the wind-down time can be less. 5-7 minutes is fine
5) Choose a self-soothing option that you are comfortable with and that will suit your baby.
I suggest trying the chosen settling technique for 8-10 minutes (or as long as you are comfortable with). If your baby is still upset after this time I recommend you get your baby up, offer a cuddle, calm him down and once calm, try again. If after 20 minutes your baby is still resisting sleep, I recommend you comfort your baby to sleep any way you feel is necessary. (Rock, bounce or feed are just to name a few). If this happens, don’t panic, practice makes perfect. You can always try again at the next nap.
When you are implementing some settling techniques and your baby continues to cry and seems unsettled, you need to eliminate the following:
This method is suitable for Newborn – 12 months of age and is recommended for parents that are either rocking or feeding their child to sleep and would like to transition them into independent sleep with more of a gradual and gentle approach.
Process: With the gradual method, continue with whatever method you were using to help your baby fall asleep (such as rocking, feeding or nursing), but decrease the amount of time you spend doing it until, in theory, you don’t have to do it at all. This is a great technique for minimizing crying, but unfortunately, many parents find it difficult to sustain as it can be a lengthy process to commit to.
Week 1: Reduce the amount of time you are rocking or feeding, before then replacing the rocking or feed with a motionless cuddle until asleep.
During Week 2: Rock, feed or nurse until your baby is 90% drowsy, then allow them to do the last 10% in their own sleeping environment with your assistance
When You Hit Week 3: Rock, feed or nurse until your baby is 80% drowsy, then allow them to do the last 20% in their own sleeping environment with your assistance
Finishing Off Week 4: Rock, feed or nurse until your baby is 50% drowsy, then allow them to do the last 50% in their own sleeping environment with your assistance. And so on…
Step 1: Reduce the amount of time you are rocking or feeding your baby over a 3-5 day period, before then replacing the rocking or feed with a motionless cuddle until asleep.
Step 2: Once your baby has settled into the changes continue to hold/cuddle your baby until drowsy, then begin to place your baby into the cot before they completely fall asleep. If and when required you can offer hands-on settling to assist them falling asleep.
Step 3: Once your baby has mastered this technique, it’s time to reduce your input and slowly remove yourself from the bedroom.
If your baby still requires overnight feeds. I recommend offering a dream-feeds, as this will eliminate your baby waking and getting rewarded with food. This will also assist if your baby was waking for a comfort feed or relied on yourself for the bottle or motion to get back to sleep. For more information, and tips on how to introduce a dream-feed, read this post on the “Dream-Feed“.
This is a great method for babies who are ready to have their arms out but still need to feel a sense of security. This also allows the parent to offer comfort without them being able to see you!
What you will need:
If your baby wakes up early from a nap or during the night, the same settling techniques should be used to encourage them to go back to sleep. For babies under the age of 6 months being prompt when attempting to resettle is paramount. Re-settle when your baby wakes after 30-45minutes, get in there ASAP and start resettling. I recommend attempting resettling for up to 10-15 min with your chosen settling technique.
By following the “Tucked in patting method” you can follow the below steps.
1. Ensure your baby doesn’t see you
2. Crouch down beside the cot/bassinet
3. Put your arm through the bars (or over the bassinet) and start patting the nappy area. If they are kicking, try to put some pressure on their legs and pat them a little firmer to avoid them getting worked up. Adjust your patting depending on your baby’s temperament & cries.
4. If they cry hard – pat firmly, however, when they are crying down and getting sleepy, soften your patting and eventually reduce it altogether.
5. I recommend using this technique for 10-15mins to encourage them to go back to sleep.
6. If your baby does not go back to sleep, simply get them up and start their wake window. You can always try again later. At this age you will still have some great nap days and not so great nap days — practice makes perfect.
Week 1: The goal this week is to apply some hands-on settling while you are still co-sleeping. If you were previously feeding to sleep this is where you would only feed till drowsy then apply some hands-on settling and some quiet shushing to help your baby drift off to sleep. By the end of this week, you want to be placing your little one next to you without the need for much settling by yourself, to allow your child to begin learning how to settle independently. If your baby is still needing consistent assistance, stay within this week and process until your baby has progressed further.
Week 2: The goal this week is to get your little one to fall asleep independently in their own sleep space — right next to you!
Side note: It’s important to remain consistent during the early hours…It’s very easy to bring your little one in with you just to get those last couple of hours uninterrupted. BUT remember babies don’t know the time and if you do it once they will try every night/morning and the times will range and become earlier and earlier with each and every day. Then before you know it — you will be co-sleeping again.
Once you have reached week 2. Continue this process for day naps too. If your baby wakes prematurely from a nap in some cases you can offer some settling.
PROMPT: For babies under the age of 6 months being prompt when attempting to resettle is Paramount. Re-settle when your baby wakes after 20-40minutes, get in there ASAP and start resettling. I recommend attempting resettling for up to 10-15min with your chosen settling technique.
STALL: For babies over the age of 6 months, your best chance to lengthen naps is to stall (for up to 10minutes). You need to give your child the best opportunity to go back to sleep and if he sees mum or dad your chance of getting them to go back to sleep is GONE. If after 10mins your baby is calm… then continue to leave them for as long as possible. You never know, they may wake, cry, winge, play and after 40mins if given the opportunity. Not seeing mum or dad may help them go back to sleep.
Your little one should be familiar with the new sleeping arrangements and expectations by now. When you put your baby to bed you can move yourself further away from the cot/co-sleeper. Ideally out of sight and if need be, use your shushing to soothe.
When the time is right, you can move your little further one away from you and eventually into their own room. If you find moving them into their own room is daunting, you can opt for the “camping out method”. This is where you will sleep on a mattress in your child’s room for a period of 3-6 nights. You provide comfort and reassurance.
Persistence and consistency are key. Be sure to do the same for day and night sleeps. Babies are fast learners and more adaptable than we give them credit for; Once given the chance – they may just surprise you!
Absolutely! If you feel your baby has picked up this process well, you can most definitely speed things up. However, be mindful you don’t want to rush things or go too quickly. Babies often respond well to change. But they can also regress quite quickly. If 1 week per process is too long, you might be best to try 3 days with each stage.