Good bedtime routine tips
Your baby's sleep pattern will change in the early days and weeks, so it's a matter of trial and error as you start to establish a routine. Here are our favourite tips to help get your baby to sleep – and for you to cope with less sleep than you're used to
Establishing baby's bedtime routine
Think safety first
After you've fed your baby, change their nappy and put them down for a nap. Your baby's head should stay uncovered so don't leave a quilt, duvet, pillows, toys or bumper pads in the cot. Make sure the room is not too hot or cold. The HSE says you should always put your baby on their back in a face up, face clear position to reduce the risk of cot death. For at least the first six months, they should sleep in the same room as you, both day and night.
Encourage independent sleep
If baby is still awake when you leave the room, stay relaxed and calm. They will get used to falling asleep by themselves and not depend on you to be there. It can be wonderful to rock baby to sleep in your arms, but if you do it consistently they may start to need this each time – even in the middle of the night.
Be routine flexible
Your baby's sleep patterns will change as he or she enters different stages. They will gradually settle into a routine where they sleep longer at night. However, growth spurts, teething, the temperature of the room and illness may all have an impact on their sleep, so be flexible to their changing needs.
Separate food from sleep
As they get older, start to leave a bit of time between their evening feed and when you put them to bed. Feeding your baby to sleep could make them associate food and sleep, so when they wake up in the night they'll want more food to drift off again.
Make a bit of noise
Don't worry about keeping the house quiet when they sleep. It's good to get them used to sleeping through a bit of noise, especially as you can't always control it. Remember, your baby is used to sounds as they can hear in the womb from around 20 weeks old.
Take a break
If you've established a good breastfeeding routine, your partner can occasionally give a bottle of expressed milk during the night to give you a well-earned break. Pass over early morning changing and dressing duties too, and you can get an hour or so extra in bed.