How to Settle your Newborn Baby in Their Own Bed at Night: Sleep Tips

How to Settle your Newborn Baby in Their Own Bed at Night: Sleep Tips

When I visit a new Mum one of the most asked questions I get is ‘How can I get my baby to settle in his/her cot at night?’ Most babies will be happy to be put down after feeding,  changing, winding etc. during the day but at night the minute you tuck them up all peaceful and seemingly fast asleep, a few minutes later they’re wriggling around and building up to crying and wanting feeding again (bottle or breast). Exhausted parents often resort to half dozing whilst their baby sleeps on their chest, or try repeatedly to put the baby down and then feel like they’re doing something wrong when the baby doesn’t ‘comply.’ There are all sorts of gadgets and gizmos you can buy to help with this problem – I’ve listed some at the end of this post – but we need to understand why they do it, and remember that it’s not necessarily an issue that needs solving, more that we need to learn how to adapt to it.

Firstly why do they do it? Picture yourself as a newborn: weak, underdeveloped organs, poor sight, unreliable temperature control, sensitive skin just to name a few things, but with a fierce instinct to survive.  During daylight hours it feels safer, there’s lots of people around, possibly a fire burning to keep predators away and lots of reassuring background noise.  At night an ancient circadian rhythm kicks in, the temperature drops and there’s a scent of danger in the air.  Our instinct is to feel the warmth of another, with a reassuring heartbeat sound and even better, milk.  The act of nursing is a huge comfort and a source of vital nutrients.  The levels of the hormone Prolactin are higher at night, and breastfeeding at night time will help establish a good milk supply.  Being close to you will help regulate their breathing and temperature.  It is normal baby behaviour to wake frequently and want to stay close.

Tips and tricks from an experienced midwife and mother of three to help your newborn to settle.

Some families choose to co-sleep or bed share to get more sleep as a family.  This is not for everyone and must be practiced safely.  The La leche league (LLL) have produced an infographic entitled ‘The Safe Sleep 7’ which I find highlights how to co-sleep perfectly:

safe-co-sleeping-safe-sleep-7-newborn-sleep-tips
However, co-sleeping isn’t for everyone, so how can we gently coerce our newborns to stay in their own space?  The safest place for a newborn for their first six months is in a crib near your bed.

My Top Tips for settling your baby at night:

  • Swaddle or wrap the baby, not too tightly but enough for them to feel secure.
  • Keep the baby swaddled during feeding and don’t disturb unless they need a nappy change.
  • After the feed gently wind the baby.
  • Try to ensure the feed is of good quality and quantity.
  • When you’re ready to transfer the baby to their bed, try to do it from a horizontal position.  Keep the baby the same level during transfer to avoid the falling reflex.
  • Keep their bed warm by using a hot water bottle wrapped in a blanket or muslin inside the moses basket until your baby is ready to go in.  Then remove it but place the warmed blanket over the baby.
  • Use a rolled up cellular blanket either side of the baby to make them feel secure, taking care to place them below their head height.
  • Keep the room warm, but don’t let the baby overheat.
  • Place an item of your clothing or something with your scent on in the baby’s bed.
  • The same toy or comforter in the crib each time baby sleeps will eventually help them associate that toy with sleep
  • Play baby’s music mobile/ lullaby music when putting down for a sleep.  Use the same one each time so they begin to associate it with sleep and feeling secure.
  • Try using a white noise maker or CD.
  • Don’t change your baby at night unless soiled, keep disturbance to a minimal.
  • Keep the lighting low if you need it.
  • Avoid TV or computers and phones as the blue light can affect sleep patterns.  If you use your phone, use a red light filter app.
  • Keep noise to a minimum.
  • If your baby starts waking a few minutes after being put down, reach over and place a hand over their body to reassure them – if their movements and sounds are escalating, tilt them onto their side and gently pat them on the back whilst making a shhhh shhhh sound.  If they don’t re settle with 5-10 minutes then they will need to be fed/soothed back to sleep again!
  • Don’t be tempted to leave baby to cry, they still need you and regular feeds and night waking is normal for babies. As they get beyond 6 months there are gentle sleep training methods you can use, but if your baby or toddler doesn’t sleep, they aren’t bad or naughty or trying to manipulate you, it’s just their natural behaviour

Remember this phase will pass, it feels like forever right now, but it doesn’t last forever and you’re doing a great job – pick the method or methods that work for you and your family and you will sleep again!

Sleep aid Products that may help your newborn settle

 

Ewan the Dream Sheep

Ewan the dream sheep, a popular baby soothing aid

Blackout Blind

Blackout blind

Snuzpod bedside crib

It folds down at the side and can be attached to your bed

The Snuzpod bedside crib

I hope this list is of some use to you, remember babies do not know how to manipulate you, nor should you worry about making ‘habits’ in the early weeks.  They need your love and nurturing day and night and this phase will soon pass.  Accept help where you can and grab sleep when possible.  Look after yourself and don’t beat yourself up.  If well meaning people are asking how is baby sleeping, reply with ‘Like a baby!’  I’d love to hear what works for you and if you have anything to add to this list.

newborn-sleep-tips-midwifeandlife.com-settle-in-bed

 

See my related posts 11 Annoying things people say to new mums  and for breastfeeding resources Best of the breast 

 Jenny-midwifeandlife-midwife-blogger-mummy

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36 Comments

  1. Mir Fleur
    October 1, 2015 / 10:48 pm

    It’s been a long time for me (my youngest baby is now 22 – still keeps me up at night ;)). But a colleague has a new born and is having some problems, I’ll send him to this site :). Mir xx

    • October 2, 2015 / 7:07 am

      You never stop worrying about them do you?! Thanks for reading x

  2. Mama
    October 2, 2015 / 12:20 pm

    Great tips. Wish I’d had them then our tot was a newborn. I’d add white noise is great at getting them to fall asleep too x

  3. October 2, 2015 / 5:02 pm

    Great Tips! I have found that each of my children is different when it come to what will work in reguards to getting them to sleep at night.

  4. inspirativka
    October 2, 2015 / 6:59 pm

    Hi,

    Nice tips. I neet to use them. This is the part from my blog about the same subject:
    5th misconception:
    Sleeping in bed with parents
    My friend who is also moms keeps telling me – DO NOT put your child in bed with you. She might become insecure.
    I admit I did such a mistake but not because my child had become weak, she certainly did not but I am not able to move out the bed while she sleeps.
    Some people supported me and told me to enjoy interaction with the baby. We enjoy our time before getting asleep. Commonly cuddle, tickle, laugh, read, sing, etc.
    Psychologists say (I read it many times) that insecure child do not explore enough. They are over-attached to parents and do not investigate. So I want to testify that our child is NOT unconfident or worried!!!

    So I already have all settled to leave the child in kinder bed and all messed up. 🙂

    Rahela
    http://www.raheladrusko.com

    • October 2, 2015 / 7:04 pm

      If you love your child you’re never doing anything wrong x

  5. October 3, 2015 / 6:32 am

    Thanks for the information…mine is a co-sleeper, will have to try this out!

  6. kreativewhim
    October 4, 2015 / 5:28 am

    Great post… now- about 2 year olds?? Any tips. AUGH! My kiddo slept great until 18 months and it has been downhill ever since.

    • October 4, 2015 / 7:37 am

      Wear them out? I know, you get past one thing only to find another challenge waiting!

  7. October 4, 2015 / 11:42 am

    Fab post, I have co sleep with Lucas, he is nearly 8 months. Any tips on trying to move him into his own room and cot?x

    • October 4, 2015 / 12:30 pm

      An idea for the next post I think although not such an expert on that! I put D down in his own cot in his room until he first wakes and then he Co sleeps until morning unless I can’t sleep and then I put him back.

      • October 4, 2015 / 12:33 pm

        It’s refreshing to here a midwife co sleeps aswel! I have lied to midewife and health visitor about where he sleeps as I didn’t want them judging me, they where very clear they don’t agree with co sleeping x

        • October 4, 2015 / 12:36 pm

          We have advice we have to give we have to assume the worst in everyone as well and that they won’t do it safely!

  8. athomewiththeboys2015
    October 4, 2015 / 9:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I also agree with Julia in that they are all so different. Our first son has Asthma and Hayfever so bedtimes have always been a challenge, even at the age of seven.

    Both of them started off in their own cot but ended up in with us if they got restless.

    Thanks for sharing on #KACOLS

    • October 4, 2015 / 9:33 pm

      That’s what I do too start the night in his bed then ends up with me.

  9. October 5, 2015 / 9:08 pm

    We found the rolled blankets really helped and our children loved their sleeping bags, I think they made them feel more secure. Elodie is one and still uses them #KCACOLS

  10. Living With The Mess
    October 8, 2015 / 2:27 pm

    That infographic is great! Co-sleeping has saved my sanity, my baby is not good at getting back to sleep himself once he wakes, and there’s only so much of my night I can give up sitting by his cot to get him back to sleep in there (and I do love a nighttime snuggle with him, he won’t be little for long!). Thanks for linking up to #SnoozySunday!

    • October 8, 2015 / 2:35 pm

      Love my snuggles too he’s my last so enjoying it while he’s little.

  11. October 10, 2015 / 7:47 am

    These are so helpful tips. I have tried pretty much all of them. The swaddling is very useful although it didn’t last longer as my little one pretty quick wanted to start getting off it. So the next step was to upgrade it to the sleeping bags! I had my daughter sleeping next to me in a co-sleeper for the first 6 months. This was really helpful with the breastfeeding and I was less tired the next day. Great post! Thank you so much for linking up with me at #KCACOLS. I would love if you can join me again on Sunday, 🙂 x

  12. October 10, 2015 / 8:18 am

    I have a three week old and love these tips. I’m going to favourite and come back to it. Makes so much sense about them wanting closeness and protection.

    • October 10, 2015 / 8:21 am

      That’s great, enjoy this precious stage but it’s also so tough!

  13. November 24, 2015 / 7:35 am

    3 babies down and still learnt something from that…turn them onto their side and pat their back…never heard that one. Not sure it will work on the 6m old who has now decided she doesn’t want to self settle though 🙁 x

    • Midwife and Life
      November 24, 2015 / 10:37 am

      I’m always learning something! My 10 month old is showing no signs of self settling yet but I know he’ll do it eventually (yawn), the patting and shushing is still the best way though I find to get them to sleep without rocking, feeding etc.

  14. September 4, 2016 / 9:33 pm

    very good article

  15. Caroline Woolliscroft
    October 16, 2016 / 3:33 pm

    It is a very long time since I had a new baby, my youngest is nearly 20 yrs old, but I remember doing the majority of things in your list. My babies all slept in their own room, as I couldn’t sleep with them in our room; nevertheless, I woke up as soon as they started to stir and they slept through the night by 4 weeks. I did break two of your rules though, with my first I fell asleep instead of feeding so took him downstairs and watched t.v. whilst feeding him. The whole process would take no more than 30 minutes and he had no trouble going back to sleep. I did this with my other two as well, with no adverse affects. I think it worked because, in spite of some lights and t.v., because I behaved differently at night. From birth my children had day and night clothes; I was much quieter and more calming in my speech at night; and I never played with my babies whilst I changed their nappies at night. I truthfully believe that one of the first lessons I taught my new-borns was the difference between day and night.
    I have subscribed to your site for when my daughter starts to have children, as another adviser other than myself.

    • Midwife and Life
      October 17, 2016 / 1:14 pm

      Thank you, that’s lovely to hear. I think mothers should take advice but go with what they feel is right for them, it’s so hard when they get told different things and lose confidence.

  16. November 9, 2016 / 9:48 am

    My baby never wanted me to leave the room even during sleep. He always woke up after being placed in the crib and I had to stay in there for hours before fatigue took control of the baby’s body. Thanks to you, it only take a couple of minutes before the baby is sound asleep.
    Margot Tobin recently posted…Best Beach Shade For Babies 2016 | Best Beach Tent For Babies.My Profile

  17. March 21, 2017 / 6:30 pm

    me & my wife want to buy CO-SLEEPER BED for our 1st baby

  18. July 4, 2017 / 11:43 am

    Great tips! Really it such an informative post. I’ve read so many amazing things about your article! Goodness thank you so much for writing this. I’m so glad to hear. Seriously thank you for all this awesomeness! This advice is really useful. Thank you for your time to share this wonderful article.

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