Accessibility tools

Sleep and your baby

Does everyone ask how your baby sleeps? 

Does everyone else's baby seem to sleep more than yours? 

Has someone told you your baby 'should' be sleeping differently to how they are? 

If so, you are not alone. Visit the BASIS website for more information from sleep experts.

How babies sleep

Watch this video

Remember… babies don’t sleep like adults, they sleep like babies. 

Babies were designed to wake up often at night to feed and cuddle, and remember many adults wake during the night, too. They grow quickly in the early weeks and months of their lives and have very small stomachs. Therefore they need to feed around the clock to meet their needs. 

Young babyBecoming a parent is a very special time. Getting to know your new baby and learning how to care for her needs can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. However, it can also be challenging, especially when you are tired and your baby is wakeful and wanting to feed frequently during the night.

Talk to your health visitor about caring for your baby at night.

Read a blog by breastfeeding counsellor Emma Pickett who discusses the dangers of promoting a strict feeding schedule at the expense of responsive, flexible infant feeding.

Babies sleep is more or less evenly distributed between day and night, and occurs in 2-3 hour bouts. It often takes several months for a day /night pattern of wake and sleep to become established.

It is important to remember that babies operate according to their own internal biological rhythms  and they are unaware of what their parents are being told. Watch this video.

Read about baby sling safety.

Where should my baby sleep?

Throughout human history, babies have slept close to their mothers, during the day and during the night. Wherever your baby sleeps you need to ensure they are safe. Visit the Lullaby Trust's website to read more.

Other tips

Photo credit - Baby Sleep Information Source website

If you would like to read more about sleep and your baby visit Baby Sleep Information Source website.

What about sleep and older children?

Good sleep is important for your child's physical and mental wellbeing. It is also important for family life and normal functioning.

A relaxing bedtime routine is one important way to help your child get a good night's sleep. 
If your child won't go to bed:

  • Decide what time you want your child to go to bed. 
  • Close to the time that your child normally falls asleep, start a 20-minute "winding down" bedtime routine. Bring this forward by 5 to 10 minutes a week – or 15 minutes if your child is in the habit of going to bed very late – until you get to the bedtime you want. 
  • Set a limit on how much time you spend with your child when you put them to bed. For example, read only one story, then tuck your child in and say goodnight. 
  • Give your child their favourite toy or comforter before settling into bed. 
  • If your child gets up, keep taking them back to bed again with as little fuss as possible. 
  • Try to be consistent. 
  • You may have to repeat this routine for several nights.

Sleep problems in young children

Visit the NHS website for tips to manage sleep in younger children, speak to your health visitor or contact our advice line.