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Top 100 sleep tips from mums

BABY IN COT ON HIS BACK

There's so much bedtime advice out there, it's enough to put anyone to sleep (if only!). So this is advice from the experts –  mums like you – your tried-and-tested tricks for getting babies and toddlers to sleep.

Babies (0 – 12months)

  • Leave your baby's room purposefully – then he has no opportunity to play on your emotions.
  • Rather than rocking him, do sideways lunges, lifting alternate feet, like a boat at sea. It should relax him, and when he goes floppy you can put him down.
  • Put your nightie in his cot. He may settle because he can smell you.
  • Keep the room your baby's in fairly cool.
  • Raise the mattress at the head – it prevents blocked noses.
  • Dr Richard Ferber's Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems (£7.99, Dorling Kindersley) is great for a kind but determined approach.
  • Baby growbags are fantastic – no more kicking off the blankets!
  • Colief drops and lots of skin-to-skin contact can help you get through the evening colic experience.
  • Use the same sleep music every night. If he wakes up, it will soothe him back to sleep.
  • Let your baby know you're there, but wean him off the 'reward' of late-night attention by not fussing.
  • A voice–activated musical lullaby projector clips to the cot and your baby can watch the pictures on the ceiling until he falls asleep.
  • If you're breastfeeding, avoid caffeine as it stays in your baby's body for more than three days!
  • Don't move your baby straight from light to darkness. Using dimmers helps to settle him.
  • Never rock him to sleep or cuddle him too tight – he'll react to the difference when you put him in his cot.
  • Routine, routine, routine! If you try something different every night, you'll never establish one.
  • Calpol helps ease the pain of teething, allowing him to sleep.
  • Sit in his darkened room while he has his milk and sing a couple of lullabies.
  • Try the Hot-Pak Beddy Bear microwaveable teddy, with a gorgeous hint of comforting lavender, from www.babies-born.co.uk/BeddyBear.html
  • Make a distinction between day naps (don't draw the curtain or creep around quietly) and night sleeps.
  • Swaddling is the best technique ever for settling a baby!
  • Be adamant about daytime naps – if he doesn't nap enough during the day, he won't sleep well that night.
  • If you can't bear the controlled crying technique, try The Baby Whisperer method ( www.babywhisperer.com).
  • If your baby has digestion problems, give him some Infant Gaviscon.
  • A drop of lavender oil on a hanky placed near the cot will soothe a baby to sleep.
  • Get an Amby hammock. The gentle rocking motion really helps ( www.naturesnest.com).
  • Teething granules (from chemists) are natural and some contain Camomilla, which aids sleep.
  • Always put your baby to bed awake, then he won't wake up wondering where you've gone and get worried.
  • If your baby cries in the night, lay him on his side, whisper 'sshhh' right into his ear and pat his tummy.
  • Get hold of a special White noise CD or put on an electric fan ( www.yourfavouriteshop.com).
  • Put your baby in a bouncy chair in the bathroom while you have an evening shower. Steam clears the airways and makes babies dozy.
  • A CD of heartbeat sounds works really well to get a newborn off to sleep.
  • The more attentive and loving you are during the day, the less chance your baby will wake in the night because of separation anxiety.
  • For newborns, try a rocking crib.
  • A nighttime dummy will give him some comfort while settling. When he's about to drop off, take it out.
  • Try a short spell in a mechanical swing to calm him down before bedtime ( www.graco.co.uk).
  • A ticking clock in the room will put him into a trance and send him off.
  • Check your baby's totally comfortable –irritant washing powders and sewn-on logos can really itch.
  • Put black-and-white pictures on the side of the cot. They'll keep him amused, but tire him out quickly.
  • A massage in between bath and bed makes babies all relaxed and snoozy.
  • If you get really stressed, ask your health visitor to put you in touch with a sleep clinic.

And don't…

  • Change nappies unless really wet or soiled. It'll wake him up more.
  • Overdo the bedclothes. If a baby gets too hot he'll wake up.
  • Be too zealous with the winding. Babies don't always need to be winded in the night.
  • React to every murmur. Babies make a lot of noise in their sleep.
  • Get cross with little ones. Anger just upsets them.
  • Be scared to ask for help. It could be the best thing you ever do.
  • Rock-a-bye baby too vigorously after his milk!
  • Make eye contact during the last feed. It makes his pulse race.
  • Expect them to sleep when you do. They're babies!
  • Sneak away from the cot. He'll think you're abandoning him.

Toddlers (1 – 3 years)

  • Leave a tape recorder near his bed playing tunes or stories on low volume.
  • When he's old enough, tell him he can cry if he wants to, but you're not coming to him. It's tough, but it works!
  • Cover his shelves with curtains or blankets at bedtime to hide all the toys and books so he won't be tempted to get out of bed and play.
  • Make a glow-in-the-dark bedtime chart. It works a treat, as your child will get into bed just to watch the stars ( www.rewardboard.co.uk).
  • With lights out, talk through fun scenarios, such as going to the seaside or the park, and leave him with those good thoughts.
  • The more attention you give during the day, the less he'll seek at night.
  • If your child is clingy at bedtime, let Dad put him to bed to break the cycle.
  • Try Bach Remedy treatments ( www.bachfloweressences.co.uk).
  • Recite the same poem every night. Familiarity breeds content!
  • Blackout blinds are a really great investment.
  • Hide a bottle of milk that he has to drink where he finds it — and for some strange reason it's always in his bed!
  • Firmly point out: 'If you don't stay in your bed, Mummy will shut your door.' It's three stories and sleep. If he plays up, the threat of not finishing usually works.
  • For kids who keep getting out of bed, try camping outside their door with a stern face.
  • Bath time directly before bed.
  • Bath products with calming ingredients such as chamomile and lavender.
  • Record some of your story telling, so he can listen to your voice if he needs to.
  • If the cot has bad connotations because you've had problems at bedtime, try putting your child into a bed at 18 months.
  • Get as much fresh air into your children as possible during the day.
  • Bribe them!
  • Put his mattress in your room and every night move it further away until it's in his!
  • If he doesn't have a comforter, encourage it. He won't feel he's sleeping alone.
  • Rubbing his temples in a circular motion helps get him sleepy.
  • Make bedtime fun. Yield to commercial pressure and buy Teletubbies pyjamas.
  • Get your child to tell all his toys it's time to sleep; he'll nod off before he finishes!
  • Avoid E numbers in food and drink. Anything fluorescent and you're definitely asking for trouble.
  • Swap the monitor ends around, so your child can hear you're still around.
  • If your child wakes for milk, dilute it, gradually increasing the water over time until it's no longer of any interest.
  • Install a fish tank with a backlight in the bedroom so he can watch the fish swim round and round until he drifts off.
  • If doing away with the cot, let your child sleep in your bed for a few weeks before transferring him to his own 'big bed'. It can help to re-establish the bond.
  • Put a beaker of water or milk within reach by his bed so he doesn't need to get up if he's thirsty.
  • Cut morning naps. Once he's reached 18 months, one in the afternoon is fine.
  • If there's room sharing, move the good sleeper out until the other one is sorted.
  • When your child's in bed and ready for sleep, say, 'I'm just popping to the loo...'
  • A dim night-light helps the scared-of-the-dark waker.
  • String up fairy lights. He'll sleep well if the fairies are watching over him.
  • Work out his bedtime routine in advance so there's no confusion.
  • If you have battles at bedtime, you and your partner must show a united front.
  • Read only a few bedtime stories in a soft monotone so you don't over-excite them.
  • If you feel it's getting too much, chat to your health visitor. She may have some advice – and in any case, it's good to talk.

And don't…

  • Let your child get overtired and all hyped up.
  • Lock your child in his room as a punishment. He needs to see it as a safe place.
  • Get too angry when he wakes in the night or he'll never settle.
  • Let him play around too long after bath time.
  • Let them watch TV without knowing what's on. Scary images can haunt them.
  • Let your child tell you when it's bedtime!
  • Argue in front of the kids – it makes them tense.
  • Stray from the routine unless it's a very special occasion.
  • Fall prey to the 'just one more' ploy. Be firm.
  • Tell them not to be silly if they are scared. They'll feel even worse.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST – ENSURE YOUR BABY HAS A COMFORTABLE MATTRESS FROM Baby Mattresses  Online

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Page updated 21st Nov 2013, 10:41
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