A baby’s sleeping patterns can be one of the hardest things parents face, particularly in the first few years. Every baby has their own sleep patterns, and different babies need different amounts of sleep during the day and night. Your baby’s development will also affect their sleeping patters.
A relaxed, regular bedtime routine will help your baby to settle and sleep well at night. Try to settle your baby into bed awake or drowsy. By falling asleep in their own bed, they learn that bed is a familiar place. If they wake during sleep, they may settle back to sleep on their own. Handle night waking quietly and gently, with no talking or playing.
Around 6–10 months, many babies pull themselves up to stand, and they often do this in their cot. Your little one may then take a while to lie down and go to sleep. If they become upset, you may need to settle them back down.
Around 8 months, your baby may become attached to a blanket, a toy, or a piece of their mum or dad’s clothing. They may suck their fingers or thumb. Having a special object they’re attached to can help them calm down and relax.
To protect your baby from choking hazards:
check that the object is safe
make sure their soft toys aren’t too small
make sure the toys don’t have pieces that can be pulled off
keep things out of reach
check that blankets and clothing can’t strangle or suffocate your baby.
Long cords from toys, clothes, blinds or curtains can cause strangulation, and large toys can cause suffocation. If your baby needs a soft toy in bed to help them settle, choose just one safe toy.
From 6–12 months, your baby may start to feel separation anxiety, becoming upset when you leave the room and cry, wanting to be with you.
From 6-12 months babies can roll to their fronts and some choose to sleep this way. To protect them at this wriggly stage of development, they need a cot with no pillows, toys or loose covers so that they are free and safe when they move about.
Discuss cot safety with Plunket staff or read more about keeping your baby safe in bed.
Baby’s sleeping patterns may become unsettled when they’re unwell, teething, or away from home. At these times they may need extra cuddles and care before settling back to sleep.
When your baby is well or at home again, try to get them back into their normal routine. If your baby has been having extra feeds when away or unwell, try to settle them without these feeds.
It’s important for parents to get enough sleep also so if you’re unhappy with your baby’s sleep patterns, ask your Plunket nurse for suggestions that may help or read more about settling your baby.