By around three months your baby is beginning to understand the difference between night and day which makes it a good time to start establishing good sleep habits.
Going to sleep at night is a skill that your baby has to learn and you can help with these tried and tested tips.
Putting your baby to bed each night at the same time will help her to regulate your child's sleep patterns and body clock. Sometime between 7–8.30pm is ideal – any later than this and your baby is likely to become over tired.
Turn the TV off and settle down to some quiet time with your baby before you start your bedtime routine. Exposure to light from the TV, computers, Ipads and mobiles, inhibits the release of melatonin, a hormone released by the brain that helps your baby to sleep. Instead, sit quietly and look at picture books together or read a story.
If you haven’t already started a bedtime routine now is a good time to begin. This routine should include a bath as this helps to prepare the body for sleep. Keep bath-time short and don’t be tempted to indulge in noisy splashing games as this will only help to stimulate your baby. Once your little one is ready for bed, give them a final feed and then place them into the cot (your baby should sleep in your room for the first six months). Try to keep the whole routine to around half an hour.
Do everything in the same order every night so that your baby learns to recognise what happens next.
It’s a good idea to use blackout blinds on the windows and to dim the lights before you begin your bedtime routine. This will help to keep the atmosphere calm and relaxed.
You may find that a gentle massage will help to relax your baby after her bath. Try massaging her arms and legs with a little warm oil before you get her dressed for bed.
Putting your baby into the cot while they are sleepy but awake will encourage them to fall asleep independently. This won’t happen immediately and there are likely to be tears at first, but try to resist the temptation to pick them up and cuddle to sleep. Instead speak calmly and reassuringly, stroke gently and then leave the room. You may have to do this a number of times before your baby falls asleep but given time your little one will eventually learn to associate falling asleep with being in her cot.
Your baby was used to constant sound when in the womb – your heart beat, stomach gurgles – so you may find that noise will help to settle them. Try playing white noise (you can get an app) or use a baby monitor that plays a number of tunes. Over time these will become familiar and your baby will come to associate them with sleep.