1. Wait until you feel fully, fully ready
I’ve spoken about this lots before but in my opinion and from working with hundreds of families now this is the number one factor as to whether “it will work”. As long as there are no health issues with your little one and both parents are on board with the plan and feeling so emotionally ready to tackle sleep then working on your baby’s sleep will work!
2. If you are introducing a settling method, do it at bedtime
Independent sleep is often the key to improving sleep for a lot of babies. But something that should be natural, i.e. lying down in their cot to go to sleep, somehow feels so... unnatural! But if you’re ready to start trying with this, bedtime is the best time to give it a go. Melatonin (the sleepy hormone) and sleep pressure from being awake in the afternoon combine to make it your easiest time to get your baby settling.
We’ve found that with younger babies, staying in the room and doing some stroking and shh-ing works well. For older babies and toddlers, giving coming in and out of the room to give regular reassurance at short intervals tends to work better. Our sleep programmes will give you exact timings for how long you try for with settling and what to do if it they don’t settle if you would like this kind of precise guidance.
3. Follow a daytime routine
Whether it’s a routine in one of our sleep programmes or from elsewhere I’m a huge believer in routine and ensuring your baby is getting the right amount of daytime sleep for their age. It’s also important for their naps to be at the right times when it’s actually going to compliment their night time sleep. For example, too much daytime sleep in the morning? Not usually complimentary to night time sleep. A long nap in the late afternoon? Not complimentary to night time sleep.
Once you get started, stay consistent
Once you’ve introduced your new settling method at bedtime, stay consistent with it. That means using it for all night wakes (other than hunger wakes), for all naps and for bedtimes in the days that follow. The more consistent you can be in the first few days, the more practice your baby will get at settling, and therefore the more quickly they will be sleeping really, really well.