How to get your newborn to sleep

Jo's top tips for settling your newborn (0-2 months)

Kate Alizadeh illustrates bedtime

Newborn babies need feeding so regularly that they're unlikely to sleep for longer than 3-4 hours at a time between feeds, and frequently less.

Your time at this early stage will be pretty much taken up with feeding and winding your baby and settlng them to sleep, and then trying to get some sleep yourself.

Don't put any pressure on yourself to do things a particular way. People around you may have lots of theories about what you should be doing - but the main thing to do is get as much rest as you can, give your baby lots of cuddles, and do whatever your baby needs for now.


Until the umbilical cord dries up, give your baby a once-over with a warm sponge or cloth. Make sure the bathroom is warm, and that there aren't any draughts or fans on them. Remove jewellery to avoid scratching your baby.

Wash your baby in two stages: first their body and then their head. Wash their head last because it loses the most heat. Wipe them clean with a warm flannel and pat dry.

When it's time for a real bath, warm the bathroom and fill the baby bath with a couple of inches of warm water. Test with your elbow.

Hold your baby over the bath, supporting their neck with the thumb and index finger of one hand. With the other hand, wash their head with mild unscented liquid baby soap. Then place them in the bath, supporting their neck with your forearm, and cradle their body.


Babies love books. You can absolutely read to your newborn baby, even though they're too little to understand what you're saying. The experience of snuggling up and listening to your voice can help a baby relax. And it's great for bonding between the both of you.

Try black and white books with bold images as your baby will be able to pick these out better. BookTrust gives these out, as well as Bookstart Baby packs with free books; remember to pick one up from your health visitor, library or children's centre. And try soft books that your baby can touch and play with. You can also check out BookTrust's Best Bedtime Books list.


Baby yawning

You could swaddle your baby - your health visitor or midwife should be able to show you how or follow guidance for correct and safe swaddling. Swaddling makes your baby feel secure and cosy. They're less likely to wake themselves up with involuntary movements.

Settling down a sleeping baby

When your baby falls asleep in your arms and you want to set them down without waking them up, move slowly. Gently lay their head down. Then put the rest of their body down so they're on their back with your hands still under them.

You should always put them to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - SIDS.

Place your baby with their feet at the bottom end of the cot to prevent them wriggling under the covers and secure the covers only to waist height. Make sure the room your baby's sleeping in isn't too hot or cold. A perfect temperature is around 18-19 degrees centigrade.

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