Five ways to help your newborn sleep at night
Step 1 Create the mood
A great way, nearly always guaranteed to help "bring on" those sleepy feelings is to give your little one a lovely warm bath. Follow this with a little baby massage. Any gentle caressing of the baby's arms, legs, body and forehead will really help bring on those sleepy feelings... but DON'T OVER DO IT.... You need to make sure you slip in the next step first.
Step 2 Full tummy
Make sure that your baby has a really satisfying feed at both the early evening and late night feeding times before they drop off to sleep. Ensure your baby is fully winded so as to avoid griping tummy pains, which are certain to cause discomfort and a restless baby. A full feed almost always guarantees a longer, more settled sleep.
Step 3 Swaddling + dummy/pacifier
To help newborns feel safe and secure is to swaddle them tightly. This offers them reassurance by reminding them of life in the womb and also helps with limiting waking caused by the startle reflex (Moro reflex – when a baby suddenly startles with their limbs outstretched). Swaddling is a fantastic technique to use for around the first three to four months or so. A dummy also helps babies to settle by satisfying a baby's natural sucking instinct. A lot of babies find them really soothing. Dummies have also been proven to reduce the risk of a sudden infant death incident occurring.
Step 4 Give a little love
With a night-time cuddle it normally only takes a short while before your little one has peacefully and contentedly drifted off to sleep. If you prefer to put your baby down while drowsy but still awake, a good way to help them still feel secure is to give them a comforter that you have had next to your body (tucked down your top for around one hour) so they can still smell "mum" on it. In fact, a comforter is useful if they stir after a short while – the aroma of mum may be all that they need to help them drift back off to sleep.
Step 5 Make night feeds dull
Always make night feeds subdued, with as little interaction as possible. Keep the room dimly lit and disturb your baby as little as possible. Don't even change their nappy unless it's really necessary. Just feed your baby, wind her and then place her back in her cot/crib with her comforter.
Lynda Harding is the creator of the easidream® system (www.easidream.com) and ewan the dream sheep.