Sleep advice for babies

How long should my baby sleep? (newborn to 6 months).

You’ll have noticed that as soon as your baby has been born they’re wide awake and looking around trying to make sense of the world that they’ve arrived into. You may not yet fully know what is expected in terms of how long your baby may sleep for during these first months of life and you will likely get lots of different advice from everyone on how this should be and what to expect.

Newborn babies have a sleep cycle of around 40-50 minutes and they will sleep for around 12 and 16 hours a day which may be broken down into different cycles. Each sleep cycle is broken down into quiet and active sleep. 

What we know about babies sleep

Sleep contributes to babies learning and development in many ways. It allows the brain to mature and allows them to grow. Sleep will help your baby to remember what they learned whilst they were awake so that they can develop and continue to explore their environment.

Sleep is made up of different stages and the cycles of sleep happen at different times and different quantities for babies. New babies are unpredictable in their patterns of sleep, for different reasons. The most important one is the slow development of their body clocks which starts to develop at about 6- 8 weeks (often later for premature babies). By 3- 6 months babies usually have a more regular sleep pattern.

Babies also have small tummies and they need frequent feeding which is why they wake and can seem to feed constantly during the first few months.

No one teaches parents about babies sleep and it is often a surprise when you discover that not only do babies not sleep when they are tired but they won’t always get themselves to sleep, sleep through the night or follow a schedule as we would like.

Many babies will be sleeping though the night by six months. However some will not and there are different reasons for this:

Babies develop at different times

They can become tired and overstimulated quickly

Babies need to be taught how to go to sleep

Some babies are not ready to sleep alone

There is now thought that the cause of colic is actually related to delayed development of the circadian rhythm (sleep cycle)

Other reasons which complicate parents understanding of why their babies do not sleep

Conflicting information – this can be from professionals, family or the media. Everyone has an opinion on what is best for your baby

Too much information – the same as the above but a desperation to find the right solution to get your baby to sleep

Comparing to other babies (including siblings)

Not understanding how a baby’s sleep develops – it’s important to remember that babies need a full sleep cycle and not just a nap – babies will stir in their sleep. Rather than pick them up try going in and shushing or gently patting them back to sleep for a short period

Over tired – if babies struggle to go to sleep it may be that they are overtired, in which case try putting them down 10 to 15 minutes earlier than usual

Bedtime rituals which may be overstimulating or ones that the baby has become too reliant on, such as dummies/ rocking / sleeping on or with a parent

Medical conditions, whether diagnosed and undiagnosed

Tips for parents with babies struggling to sleep

Not every baby will sleep through the night from 6 months, but good sleep routines will certainly make this more likely to happen. Below I have detailed some top tips, covering your babies routine before bedtime, whilst you’re putting them down and everything in between. It’s important to remember that every baby is different and for tailored advice, please get in touch to book a consultation, which can be over phone or face to face. 

*Please follow the advice given by the Lullaby Trust for prevention of sudden infant deaths. Make sure your baby is asleep in the same room as you for the first six months of life. 

Before bedtime

Make sure your baby is calm to sleep – make sure they have some quiet time beforehand

Teach your baby the difference between day and night

Introduce positive things for them to associate with sleep

Watch for tired cues and try not to allow your baby to become over-tired

Have a predictable routine during the day- your baby should have set times for feeding, sleeping and stimulating activities when at home

Their environment

Make sure the bedroom isn’t too hot or too cold (between 14 and 20c is optimum)

By 6 months your baby should sleep in a darkened room

Make sure that their sleeping place is peaceful, avoid too many toys and bright colours

Putting your baby down

Practice putting your baby down whilst they are still awake

Don’t respond too quickly if they cry – some babies can create their own white noise to block out other things that may be stimulating them

If your baby struggles to go to sleep without being cuddled or rocked:

Try watching when they are drifting off and sing the same song or use the same words each time they go to sleep. Babies will then associate these words with falling sleep

Instead of rocking them to sleep lay them down and talk to them reassuringly – babies recognise their parents voice from before birth and often find it calming and reassuring

If your baby is still unsettled try gently holding his/her arms by their sides whilst they are in the crib/cot- this can make them feel safe and secure and help them settle

Don’t respond to every little movement or whimper. Babies need time to get comfortable and may need to wriggle or stretch before they drift off to sleep

If your baby is cat napping (sleeping only for short periods) try going in and shushing or patting him/her before they usually wake up. This will work if they always wake after a certain time, i.ee 20/30 minutes

If your baby is struggling to sleep at naptime they may be overtired and their sleep window may have been missed so they become overtired- try putting them down for a nap 15 minutes earlier than planned

Sleep cues include the following:

Flapping arms

Avoiding eye contact

Yawning

Rubbing their eyes, faces or ears

Book your consultation, with tailored advice from an expert

Basic baby package (suitable for babies 6 months to 1 year)

After a free 15-minute telephone consultation, you can sign up to a plan of support which includes up to an hour’s phone/video call assessment, so that I can understand the problems you are facing. An individual plan will be emailed to you and a further 30-minute telephone appointment will be scheduled in when you are ready to start. Following this we will have up to 10 daily emails and a phone call of up to 30 minutes at the end to review progress.

Price £200

If you need further support, these would be charged at £10 per email or £40 for up to a 30-minute telephone/video call, or email/whatsapp/messenger contact – whatever is your preference.

Charges are per family for one package of care, there is no extra charge for multiple births such as twins or triplets.

Baby be there package (suitable for birth to 6 months)

Many babies are not ready to sleep through the night until after 6 months. Whilst we do not advocate “trying to make them sleep all night” this package can support parents around routines, development and how to recognise what is needed to prepare baby for sleep and how to recognise when they are ready to sleep.

We can include information about immunisations, weaning and safe sleeping.

Price £120

This is a one off consultation with a written plan of support.

If you need further support, these would be charged at £10 per email or £40 for up to a 30-minute telephone/video call.

Charges are per family for one package of care, there is no extra charge for multiple births such as twins or triplets.

Baby between package

After a free 15 minute telephone consultation on facetime/skype. The consultant will then visit you at home for 60 – 90 minutes to carry out a sleep assessment. This will be followed up by a 30 minute phone call and email with the programme of support within the first week. Followed by a weekly email and a phone call at 2 and 4 weeks to further support and monitor progress. 

This will be followed up by an email with the tailored plan of support within 48 hours and followed up by up to 10 emails to monitor and support progress and a 30-minute telephone call, or email/whatsapp/messenger contact – whatever is your preference.

Price £240

If you need further support, these would be charged at £10 per email or £40 for up to a 30-minute telephone/video call.

Charges are per family for one package of care, there is no extra charge for multiple births such as twins or triplets.

Bespoke baby day to night package

You can sign up to the Bespoke baby day to night package which includes a 60- 90-minute home visit for an assessment then a booked return for 12 hour package of care, supporting you with a sleep plan in your own home from morning up to the time when your baby goes to bed. Followed up with a written sleep plan within 48 hours and then by up to 10 daily emails and a 30-minute telephone call, or email/whatsapp/messenger contact – whatever is your preference.

Price £300

If you need further support, these would be charged at £10 per email or £40 for up to a 30-minute telephone/video call.

Charges are per family for one package of care, there is no extra charge for multiple births such as twins or triplets

I also offer a ‘Bespoke baby night package – night to day’ which offers the above, plus up to 10 x emails and 2 further home visits for up to 60 minutes each.

Price £420

Each subsequent night booked is £300 per 12-hour night

All care packages must be paid for at the time of booking. Travel expenses will be added for home visits of more than an hour travelling time or above a 30-mile radius. Regrettably I’m not able to refund money for cancellations. However we can rebook any session cancelled for emergencies such as child illness (within 4 weeks, unless otherwise agreed with me).