While having a new baby is one of the best times of a person’s life, this may be called into question when you are woken up for the fifth time at night at four in the morning! Sleep is notoriously one of the most difficult challenges that new parents face so The Baby Show, with MadeForMums, which returns to Olympia London from 19th – 21st October has collated some tips from their expert speakers and listed some of the UK’s top sleep aids to help you, and your baby, get the good night’s sleep you deserve!
Andrea Grace, Child Sleep Expert and author of Gentle Sleep Solutions
“One of the best ways to improve a baby’s sleep at night time, which involves no crying and doesn’t cost a penny, is to expose them to daylight – especially in the morning.
The contrast of lightness in the day and darkness at night helps them to produce healthy levels of melatonin; the hormone responsible for putting them to sleep at night and keeping them asleep. Not only this, but daylight exposure can also improve a baby’s mood, as it increases the release of a “feel good” hormone called serotonin.”
Vanessa Christie, Lactation Consultant & Early Parenting Expert
“Finding a sling or carrier that feels both comfortable and secure is a game changer for helping with settling and naps. It can be confusing and expensive trying to figure out one which works best for you, so look up baby-wearing forums for information and second-hand sales and see if you can get to a ‘sling library’, where you can hire ones cheaply and get expert advice at the same time.
Introducing a regular bedtime routine helps to signal to your baby the difference between day and night and will gradually help to encourage them to fall asleep more soundly in the evenings. The important things are not to draw it for too long as they may get overtired (and wired!) and be consistent by doing similar things in the same order each evening, such as having a calm bath and a massage, dimming the lights, changing into bedclothes and having a feed.”
Milli Hill, author of The Positive Birth Book and founder of The Positive Birth Movement
“Sleep can be the biggest issue for new parents and the one thing that helped me the most was to adjust my expectations of how my baby would sleep. Having gone into motherhood thinking they would wake up a few times a night for the first few weeks, and then ‘sleep through’, it was a bit of a shock when the reality was a long, long way from that!
Learning to accept that waking frequently and needing me in the night for comfort and reassurance – as well as food – was completely normal baby behaviour, helped me to accept that this was just a phase, that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, and that it would eventually pass.
The only product I can fully endorse is the boob; breastfeeding is hands down the best way to get your baby off to sleep, and once they have drifted off you can gently ‘unplug’ them and leave them sleeping. I nursed all three of my children to sleep and it was lovely to be able to give them that comfort, and highly effective at knocking them out in about five minutes flat!”
Lesley Gilchrist, midwife and co-founder of My Expert Midwife
“In the early weeks after birth your baby will want to feel close to their parents so that they can feed as often as they want.
It’s this closeness to their food source that keeps then settled and calm. Using a baby carrier or sling enables you to keep them close to help settle them, but also lets you do all the things that you need to do. For some women, the baby carrier can completely replace a pram and is another essential when travelling, especially by train or air.
Your local NCT group will have a regular ‘sling library’ group where you can try different baby carriers and get advice on the one that meets your needs.”
Lucy Shrimpton, Founder of The Sleep Nanny® and author of The Sleep Nanny® System
“So many parents struggle with little ones waking for the day between 4 and 5 am which we call ‘early rising’. What many parents don’t know is that this is typically caused by over tiredness. So, if you’re thinking of limiting daytime sleep or making bedtime later in the hope that your little one will sleep later in the morning… don’t do it!
It will only make things worse. Instead, you need to ensure enough daytime sleep is had and bedtime is not too late. A well-rested child will sleep better at night.
“If your toddler simply doesn’t know when to settle back down and when it’s okay to get up, my favourite tool is the KidSleep clock.
With a clear visual image of what you are supposed to do, this clock can be understood by little ones from around 20 months. The little character on the clock also doubles up as a companion for your child and the soft light is gentle enough as a comforting night light without interfering with sleep hormones.”