Sleep and settling are often things that new parents find the most challenging with with their babies. When parents arrive home with their first baby or babies (in the case of multiples), the amount of solid sleep that they have been used to, pre-baby, changes dramatically and becomes broken and irregular in order to tend to the needs of the new member/s of the family. It is a good idea to try and rest/sleep when baby is during the day where possible.
Useful Techniques For Settling Your Baby
Rhythmic gentle patting can be calming and relaxing for babies. Patting can also be a good technique for helping babies learn to settle in their cot.
Patting settling steps
Rhythmic, gentle patting can help settle young babies into sleep. Here’s how to do it:
Face your baby away from you, lying on his side.
Place your hand gently on your baby’s shoulder.
Cup your other hand and pat your baby gently and slowly on the bottom or thigh.
Make the patting as rhythmic as possible – for example, about the same rate as your heartbeat.
Sing a quiet, soothing song to help you find your rhythm. Your baby won’t mind if you’re out of tune or don’t know the words! If you think that your singing might disturb your baby, sing or count in your head to help keep your patting steady. Or you could try saying ‘shhh’ on each pat.
Sometimes two hands are better than one. Here’s how to do double-patting:
Keep patting your baby’s bottom or thigh and then start patting baby’s shoulder with your other hand.
Alternate the pats in a rhythmic way.
As your baby starts to settle and relax, slow down your hand movements. Once your baby is quiet, stop patting but leave your hands on your baby for a few more seconds.
You could try patting the mattress beside your baby, or even jiggling the cot slightly. Experiment and see what works for your baby.
If your baby is crying, you can still try patting. If she’s very upset, it’s OK to stop and give her a cuddle.
If nothing seems to be working, and you start to feel angry or distressed, it’s best to leave your baby in the cot. Walk away and take a moment to calm yourself. It won’t hurt your baby to cry for a short time.
Many parents find sleep and settling a battle when they bring their newborn home from hospital.
This website and the information it contains is not intended as a substitute for professional consultation with a qualified practitioner.
New mothers can get support with sleep and settling issues at the Mother & Baby Unit, located at St Helen’s hospital.
There are local sleep professionals who offer in home sleep consultations and can assist you to formulate a sleep plan for your infant.