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When you become parents, there’s an unspoken word that brings either tears of joy or tears of despair, and that's the “S” word . . . yep you guessed it, sleep!  Ahhhh sleep, remember when you used to take it for granted by getting a solid 8 hours or even (dare I say) TOO much sleep, I know, those were the days!  

Naturally, you expect your slumber to be somewhat disturbed with the arrival of your long awaited new born, but if you’ve reached the point where you’d give anything for a restful night,  then this blog is packed with tried and tested sleep tips that we can’t wait to share.

Sleep When Baby Sleeps?  Let's discuss . . .

There’s an age old saying “sleep when baby sleeps”  which is great for those who can sleep on demand, but in reality it's not always possible and can place immense pressure on new parents.

You may have other children to attend too, you may wish to enjoy a little bit of quiet time with an underrated cup of hot coffee or, shock horror, you may take the opportunity to catch up on some housework, because I don’t remember anyone ever saying “Do the washing when baby does the washing”  Of course I’m not saying this is what you should do, they are just examples of how you may wish to spend a few glorious moments when baby is sleeping.  Yes, some elements of housework will more than likely fall by the wayside, and so they should, you should enjoy every moment with your newborn and that is completely fine but sometimes completing the odd household chore is a little life win when you are sleep deprived.  Therefore, in order to regain some normality, the only way to ensure a restful household is by encouraging your baby to sleep with the help of a little guidance from you.

So if you can sleep when baby sleeps then great, but for those running on empty, we see you and we are here to help.

Day To Night Signals

In the early days, it is all about letting your baby sleep and feed on demand, afterall they are brand new to the world and it’s tiring being a newborn!  But if you find your baby regularly mistaking sleep time for party time, then it could be time to introduce a sleep routine.  

There are no hard and fast rules as to what age to start a routine, we say there’s no rush before 4 months and it doesn’t have to be strict, just a few signals here and there to let the baby understand the difference between day and night until their circadian rhythm, aka sleep/wake cycle becomes established.  

  • Bath, bottle (or breast), bed is a tried and tested routine that babies become familiar with as it lets them know that their bath is followed by their last feed, which is followed by bed.
  • After a bath keep the lights low, remove any toys or interaction that may over stimulate them.
  • Take advantage of quiet time with a bedtime story.
  • On non bath days, it’s still important to signal night time so always wash them and change them into a fresh sleepsuit.

Cry It Out Method

If you know your baby is warm, dry, comfortable and of course full then sleep training is next.  The cry it out method can be seen as controversial as you leave your baby to cry which can be heart wrenching but people who have used this approach say that after only a few days, it had fantastic results, so it's worth it in the short term.  Just remember to stay consistent when you try a new method, it may be tough in the first few days but your baby needs time to understand the new process. The aim of this method is to let your baby know you are always there but now its sleep time. 

Step 1 - Put your baby in their bed, make sure they are comfortable, say good night in your usual way and leave the room.  

Step 2 - If your baby cries, leave them for 5 minutes to begin with, you can gradually increase the amount of time as they days go on.

Step 3 - If they continue to cry, go into their room after the 5 minutes and gently soothe them but don’t pick them up or stay for longer than a minute or so, then leave again, even if they are still crying.

Step 4 - Follow this routine until they eventually fall asleep.  Increase the time between visits by a couple of minutes if you feel comfortable to do so but the key here is to remain consistent and brace yourself for a few tough nights, it will get easier, and we promise they’ll still love you in the morning and you’ll be met with a big beaming smile after a good night's sleep.

Dream Feed 

Love it or hate it, the dream feed has proven results.  Those against it say it's like somebody waking you up and forcing you to drink a cup of tea while you were sound asleep, which granted, does sound a little odd, but we promise it can work.  Of course your baby should feed on demand in the early days which is 100% accurate, but if you know your baby is capable of sleeping through then a dream feed is absolutely worth a try, and here’s how:

Step 1 - Follow your usual bedtime routine and lay your baby down to sleep.

Step 2 - Let them sleep until around 11pm, then gently wake them, change their nappy and offer them a feed.  Keep the lights low with minimal interaction.

Step 3 - Lay your baby back down in bed and they should now sleep through until morning with a nice full tummy.

If your baby is used to waking at 3am for a feed, they may still wake at this time out of habit not hunger so gently soothe them back to sleep.  This should only happen for a few days until they get used to the dream feed. Then when they are sleeping sound from 11pm until morning you can begin to phase the dream feed out by reducing the amount of milk to ¾ for the first week then to ½ the following week.  You could also bring the time forward by 30 minutes each week too, then if your baby is still sleeping through on the reduced feed, you can drop the feed all together, hoorah.

The Chair Method

This method requires some willpower as you remain in your baby's room until they fall asleep with minimal contact from you (even if they cry).

Step 1 - Follow your usual bedtime routine and lay your baby down to sleep.

Step 2 - Place a chair next to your baby's bed and stay with them until they fall asleep.

Step 3 - If they cry, comfort them but with minimal contact, don’t pick them up.

Step 4 - Each night move the chair a little further away from their bed until you are out of the room completely.

Fade Out Method

If you have found yourself rocking your baby to sleep, pacing up and down the room at all hours or anything else that requires a long time to settle, then the aim of this method is to phase it out so that you are able to lay your baby down to sleep with minimal fuss.

Step 1 - Follow your usual bedtime routine and lay your baby down to sleep.

Step 2 - If they cry, pick them up and soothe them as you would ie rock or walk with them but for less time.

Step 3 - Continue with this technique, reducing the amount of time you pick them up until they are asleep.  It's a gradual process but stick with it for the best results.

Sleep requirements

Some babies sleep more than others, some sleep for hours whereas others may take a series of shorter naps, so it's important to remember that no two babies are the same, but a rough guideline for expected sleep looks like this:

  • Newborns - Tend to sleep longer than they are awake and will wake during the night for feeds.
  • 3 to 6 Months - You may find that night feeds begin to decrease and they will sleep longer at night, but don’t worry if not, they have their own patterns.
  • 6 to 12 Months - Night feeds might be a thing of the past by 12 months and you can expect anywhere from 8 to 12 hours sleep, but watch out for teething as this can disrupt their sleep.
  • 12 Months and Over - By now, hopefully your baby and soon to be toddler will be sleeping a minimum of 12 hours and may also be napping during the day if needed.


Acceptance is key to any form of sleep training.  If you accept that you are in for a few sleepless nights then you will be better prepared than expecting instant results overnight.  It’s not forever, we promise.

And finally, here are a list of our favourite “Don'ts” to ease you into any of the sleep training methods:

  • DON'T overfeed your baby or introduce solids too soon in the hope of getting them to sleep through, it will come. 
  • DON’T feel you have to stick to a routine if they are poorly, anything goes here.
  • DON’T feel like you have to do things the way your Mum, Sister, Aunty or Gran did - any advice that begins with “in my day” isn’t always sound advice!
  • DON’T give up, you’re doing great and it will be worth it.
  • DON’T worry, it won’t last forever.
  • DON’T be afraid to accept help from your partner, family, friends, you’re not expected to do it all if you’re tired.
  • DON’T compare yourself to others, no two babies are the same.
  • DON’T be afraid to do things your way - no one knows your baby better than you, plus babies are not text book so you don’t have to be either.
  • DON’T forget to share the load - take turns on getting up, take advantage of weekends to catch up on sleep if you get up more during the week etc.
  • DON’T worry if you don’t get dressed today, especially after a sleepless night, just accept it and enjoy your comfy day.

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