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Top 100 sleep tips from Mums

baby sleeping on his back

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.
28th November 2007, 18:10
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Page updated 5th Oct 2015, 13:25
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