My ABC List to Achieve Baby Sleep Success
Dear sleepy mum,
If you’re new to motherhood, you’re most likely feeing overwhelmed with all the baby advice that people are giving you.
Friends say this, your mum says that, and your mother-in-law offers totally different advice again. Sigh! Where do you even begin?
It seems like you have to do and change so much in order to just receive the most basic need of all: sleep.
I compiled a fun and helpful list of tips you can start implementing today, one step at a time, so you can reach your goal: baby sleep success.
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means that I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. This is at no extra cost to you!
What a word to kick off the alphabet, right? I could have chosen attachment which is a very popular word at the moment, but I decided to go with association instead.
Why? Because I believe one of the many reasons why babies struggle to put themselves down to sleep is because of negative sleep associations.
Very common examples of negative sleep associations are: rocking, pacing, and feeding baby to sleep. Sounds familiar?
To a certain degree, these can be affective. However, at one stage, you may discover that your once-successful trick, suddenly doesn’t work anymore. This is because your baby is desperately trying to put himself down to sleep. However, the only way he knows how to get this, is by calling for your help.
The solution? Replace them by positive associations such as a comforter (when baby is older than 7 months) or a white noise / music machine.
When our sleep consultant walked into the nursery, the first thing she said was: ‘You need block-out curtains. There is too much light coming in’.
I knew that the blinds probably weren’t enough, but I didn’t realise that they could have such an impact on her since she was ‘used’ it.
But we took her advice as we were desperate to get some sleep, and I must admit… it made a world of difference!
What a popular topic this has become! Some are for, some are against.
Although co-sleeping feels like a wonderful way to bond with your baby, it also comes with an increased risk of SUDI. I explain all this with recommended safety tips in my post: ‘The Risk of Co-Sleeping With Your Baby’.
I must admit, I had a love-hate relationship with my daughter’s dummy. When she started crying in the car or in public spaces, her dummy saved the day. At night, however… not so much.
Not only was my daughter used to all the rocking and pacing, she also called out numerous times for me to catch her dummy.
For a while, we tried to solve this problem with a Sleepytot. It’s a comforter that allows you to attach up to 4 dummies. The idea is great and it kind of worked for us as it was easy to spot in her bed. However, at a certain age my daughter figured out how to take the dummies off, so we still ended up looking for them in the middle of the night.
Eventually she was able to put them back in her mouth by herself, but our full night sleep wasn’t complete until the dummy went.
If your baby hasn’t started using one, it’s probably best not to introduce it at all. Experts say you can use them safely and without forming attachments until the age of 3 months old.
Make sure that your baby’s sleep environment is perfect for a good night’s sleep. My most popular blog post ‘Baby’s Perfect Sleep Environment for a Good Night‘ shows several changes you can make to improve your baby’s sleep.
A baby won’t sleep very well if she’s feeling hungry. A feed before bed is highly recommended. However, to avoid a negative sleep association to feeding, experts suggest to feed about 10 to 15 minutes before bedtime.
This will allow your baby to learn to self-soothe from a drowsy position, rather than being put to bed when already asleep.
If your baby does fall asleep while feeding (many babies do), try to gently ‘wake’ her up by changing her nappy, or placing her in a swaddle or sleeping bag. Don’t wake her all the way though, but just enough for her to be drowsy.
Safety is of the utmost importance for baby’s sleep!
Red Nose lists the baby sleep safety guidelines as follows:
- Sleep the baby on their back
- Make sure the baby’s head and face are uncovered
- Keep the baby smoke free before and after birth
- Provide a safe sleeping environment
- A cot which meets Australian standard AS2172
- Safe mattress that is firm, clean, flat, and the right size for the cot
- Tuck blankets in firmly or use a sleeping bag
- Do not use pillows, cot bumpers, lamb’s wool, soft toy, or doona in the cot
- Sleep baby in their own bed in the same sleeping space as the caregivers until the age of 6 months
- Breastfeed baby
Who doesn’t need hugs now and then? When your baby asks for a hug, give them a hug. This is especially nice before bedtime as it will make them feel safe and secure knowing you are right there.
I Need Sleep
This goes for both baby and parents. All of you need a healthy amount of sleep.
Did you actually know that 50% of Australian babies aged 1 and 2 years old are sleep deprived? It’s not just the mum and dad that are in a high need of sleep, babies are lacking sleep as well.
You can read a few more sleep facts here.
It’s summer now in Australia, so the use of a pyjama is a ‘little’ overrated now. However, jammies are a must have item for those colder autumn and winter nights.
Just like hugs, your baby can’t get enough kisses. Well, maybe he might get a little frustrated if you keep kissing him, but bedtime is perfect to give a few extra ones.
My daughter reminds me every time that she needs to get a kiss. On the cheek – the forehead is not enough. Haha! God bless her beautiful soul.
Have you just become a mum? You better catch up on your lullabies if you haven’t already. You’ll be singing a lot of them, and more than once.
Songs and books are a ‘must have’ item in our bedtime routine as they are perfect to help your little one wind down. Yes, babies too.
A monitor is another ‘must have’ for the baby room. It may not necessarily improve your baby’s sleep (although some play lullabies), but it will definitely ease your mind a bit.
Video monitors are quite popular and I must admit that we had one too. I preferred to be able to also see if my baby was safe, rather than having to walk into the room and risk waking her up.
We used the video monitor from Uniden with 2 cameras and were very happy with that. I liked the dual camera option, especially when our daughter wasn’t rolling around yet.
We set one up to view her bed length wise and the other one was able to see her face. This one allowed me to check her breathing as I could see her tummy go up and down.
Alternatively, you could also buy a breathing/movement monitor. I know there are quite a few people who say it’s a waste of money as it can give false alarms or no alarm when needed. For example, when the fan is on in baby’s room, the monitor will pick up on the movement. This means that it will record the breeze as a breathing.
We tested this, and yes, it’s true. The monitor will pick up the fan as a breathing motion. That said, we never had a false alarm while our daughter was in the crib. What did happen – a lot – was that I took her out in the middle of the night for a nappy change and a feed without turning the monitor off. You can probably guess what happened next… Lol!
In the end, the choice is yours. We used both options and were happy with that.
Naps are a lot more important than you may think. See, I used to believe that my daughter didn’t nap well because of her bad nights. It was actually the other way around.
In order for your baby to sleep well at night, you need to make sure that your baby naps well during the day.
Therefore, it is important to keep an eye out for tired signs and his wake times. An overtired baby becomes even more difficult to put to sleep.
I share a table with wake times and nap durations per age in my ‘5 Easy Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep‘ you can download today.
Prevent your baby from becoming overtired and look at early signs of tiredness:
- Closed fists and rubbing eyes
- Pulling ears
- Staring, loosing interest
- Fluttering eyelids
- Sucking hands, thumbs
- Stiffening the body
- Difficulties latching on the breast
If you’re a Christian, prayer is a lovely way to close your bedtime routine. It teaches your child that prayer is important from an early age.
You may also notice, especially with toddlers, that your child will receive comfort in knowing that Jesus is watching over him.
Before you put your baby to bed, it’s important to wind down in quietness. The days tend to be busy enough already and they will need to be calm enough to be able to fall asleep.
Oh, I can’t stress enough about the importance of a good bedtime routine. Take the routine away and your child will feel lost and insecure.
Routines don’t have to be a 100% rigid, but they do need to feel familiar. Starting the routine with a bath is perfect as it is so different of any other daytime activity. It will give your child the cue that it is time to wind down and go to bed.
Sleep Through the Night
Doesn’t this sound perfect? Your child sleeping through the night… what a blessing!
Some babies will start to sleep through at a younger age, but most babies seem to struggle with this for quite some time. I know some toddlers who still struggle with this.
Depending on your preference, and probably your degree of sleep deprivation and support, you may decide to continue with the next tip…
Some mums believe that sleep training is unnecessary and that their baby eventually will sleep through. Well, most likely they will, but how much longer can you take the sleepless nights?
I personally hit rock bottom when my daughter was 10.5 months old. I do have to say that we have no village at all, no family that we can rely on. Our friends all have little ones of their own, so I had nobody to call and ask for help or a favour.
Contacting a sleep consultant and sleep train my daughter was one of the best decisions I made! She slept through in only 2 nights and her naps were perfect after 2 weeks. Best money spent ever, for sure!
Of course, you may want some more information or research before deciding on sleep training and that is totally fine. Do whatever works for you and your family!
When this word came to mind, I was actually thinking of the first night my daughter slept through the night. I was so excited and happy that she slept through after only 2 nights of sleep training, it was almost unbelievable.
Victory… when finally your baby sleeps through!
Ever heard of the wonder weeks? These words refer to a developmental stage that babies hit that are challenging for parents. I’m not too sure if every baby goes through all of them, but I know my daughter hit a lot of them.
I actually ended up buying the book ‘The Wonder Weeks’ by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij, and found myself reading it quite frequently.
It starts with an introduction into growing up and the newborn stage, and then continues with the wonder weeks. For each wonder week, they include things like: this week’s fussy signs, a diary section, and what you can do to help.
Just like hugs, extra snuggles are always welcome!
I’d like to refer back to the tired signs in ‘Overtired’. Yawning is one of the clear signs that your little one is ready for bed.
And last but not least…. Sweet dreams! Zzzzzzzzz…
Phew, we made it all the way through the alphabet! Remember, if there are items on this list that are new to you, change them one step at a time. No need to rush yourself and baby through them.
One change is enough to start with and bring you closer to your own baby sleep success.
Is there a letter you would replace with a different word? I’d love to read it in the comment section below.