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Expert Advice

Baby not sleeping? Here are 9 bedtime tricks to try

Must-read advice to send your bub off to the land of nod.

By Fiona Wright
It would be safe to say a baby's first year in the world can be a little unsettling - and getting him or her to sleep is one of the biggest learning curves to tackle.
But if you're finding that your baby (and incidentally, you yourself!) isn't getting to sleep easily, there are some tried and tested tricks that are worth giving a go.
Keep scrolling as we look at the best ways to send your bub off to the land of nod.
He's tired. You're tired. Please. Go. To. Sleep! (Image: Getty Images)
FOR NEWBORNS
Swaddle up
Try the modern swaddle. Safe sleeping experts at Red Nose (previously SIDS and Kids) recommend a sleeping bag with a fitted neck and armholes.
Boob, then bed
Breast-fed babies can often sleep better. "In the latter part of the day, breastmilk contains high levels of the hormone tryptophan," says Andrea Grace, a children's sleep specialist. "Tryptophan aids the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Mums who breastfeed should cluster feed in the run-up to bedtime, to fill baby up and encourage the production of sleep hormones."
The 'tiger in the tree' hold
Sleep consultant Tina Southwood recommends the 'tiger in the tree' hold, where you lay your baby on her tummy along your forearm (with your palm facing upward), so that her chin is resting in the crook of your arm. "I do this on my left side, so my right hand is free to stroke her back," she says. "Colicky babies really like this but all babies seem to find it soothing and many fall asleep quickly in this position."
The nose stroke
"Try holding him close and stroking gently from his forehead down to his nose," says Lisa Clegg, author of The Blissful Baby Expert. "This generally gets him to close his eyes but if he doesn't, I'd gently cover his eyes with my fingers."
WATCH: How to get your baby to sleep longer. Story continues after video...
FROM 3 MONTHS
Just say it
"Whisper 'I want you to go to sleep now' in baby's ear when you are about to put him down," says early childhood nurse Claire Read. "Although they won't understand it at first, it's amazing what babies do understand and they will soon associate these words with bedtime."
Download an app
So, your baby is waking up more often at 12 weeks than six? Don't panic. "It may be due to teething, a cold, wanting to practise a new skill or a developmental burst," says Dr Emma Svanberg, a clinical psychologist who specialises in mums and bubs.
"The Wonder Weeks app (iTunes and Google Play) is great to prepare yourself for sleepless and fussy periods."
It's a calendar that helps you track your baby's mental development, including times of rapid growth, which can affect sleep, appetite, clingness and crankiness.
Read and repeat
Yep, even if it drives you crazy. "When you take the baby into where they are going to sleep, it pays to read the same book every night," says Claire. "It becomes part of the routine and he knows what is going to happen next."
And bub is finally asleep... hallelujah. (Image: Getty Images)
FROM 6 MONTHS
The gradual retreat method
If you usually cuddle your baby or if you're in the habit of staying with him until he's fallen asleep, try these steps:
  • Sit by your baby's cot, hold his hand until he falls asleep, then leave the room. Repeat this every night for one week.
  • The following week, sit by his cot but don't hold his hand. Leave once he's asleep.
  • The week after, sit at the end of the cot until he falls asleep, then quietly leave the room.
  • Continue to gradually sit further away from the cot, a week at a time, until, finally, you're sitting at the open door of your baby's room. By this time, he will probably be able to fall asleep without you even being there.
FINALLY, JUST CHILL
Relaxing your own expectations for your baby's sleep routine can help especially if you're little one is struggling to settle.
"Forget about how your baby 'should be sleeping' and focus on what works for you," says Emma.
"Try to enjoy the sleepy snuggles and night feeds when it's just you and him." Take it day by day and things will improve, honestly.
WATCH: Baby twins pretend to sleep when they hear their mum

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