All new parents have been there: the newborn baby sleeps like an angel, as long as they’re lying on your chest. Transfer them to the cot? No thanks. If you’re finding yourself asking ‘how can I get my baby to sleep in the cot?’ These tips are for you…
With our firstborn, my husband and I spent many a long night feeding, burping, rocking and putting her down in the moses basket. If she cried, we’d soothe her back to sleep then put her down again. From 4am onwards – the last night feed – she was often in our bed but on the whole, co-sleeping was a big no-no.
With baby two, things couldn’t have been more different. He loves cuddles (what baby doesn’t?) and so settling him on his own has been problematic. He also has reflux. But with a toddler requiring attention all day and sometimes at night, we were just too tired to spend hours attempting to settle him. So we caved in and start co-sleeping.
And when I say co-sleeping, I don’t mean putting him in his own little bed in the centre of ours – I mean cuddled up with me, all night every night. While it’s very sweet and a lovely bonding exercise, I just don’t sleep as well with him in the bed. And sleep’s important. So I desperately googled and Instagrammed for solutions.
Then one night, he slept on his own, all night. For the first time in seven weeks. Well, for the first time ever. It was the sweetest victory. I woke up in the best mood – well rested and feeling a great sense of achievement. So to help other sleep deprived parents out there, here are eight tried and tested tips for getting your baby to sleep in their cot, rather than your bed…
How can I get my baby to sleep in the cot?
1. Keep the bedroom dark at night and light in the day so that your baby knows that day-time is for waking and night-time is for sleeping. It also helps to interact lots during the day (talking, smiling) but to avoid interaction during the night – even when changing nappies.
2. Having a routine helps the baby to get into a rhythm. For instance: bath, book, breast/bottle and then bed. We skipped bath one night and the baby wouldn’t settle. Stick to the routine whenever possible – babies love continuity.
3. Put your baby down for naps in his cot during the day. This normalises it and makes it less scary being left there at night.
4. Invest in a Sleepyhead. At £110, it’s not cheap but it can be placed in the cot and keeps your baby cocooned, like when he was in the womb. And there’s a good secondhand market on Ebay so you can buy one on there, or sell yours when you’re done.
5. The cot/Sleepyhead may feel cold and babies love warmth so warm it up with a hot water bottle and then transfer them when it’s all cosy (but remove the hot water bottle before putting them down).
6. Another investment: Ewan the Sheep. This creates white noise, as well as lighting up. We haven’t bothered with the light function but turning on the white noise (the rain and heartbeat option – there are four) has not only helped keep the baby asleep while transferring him, it also drowns out other sounds (like creaking floorboards) and we’ve used it to settle him after night feeds. Well worth shelling out the £30.
7. We haven’t done it with either baby but some parents swear by swaddling (wrapping the baby in a blanket). Our firstborn was swaddled by a midwife at hospital and she slept for four hours. Look up how to swaddle safely.
8. If your baby has reflux (like our secondborn), raise the head of the cot by putting a book or two underneath it. Sleeping at an angle helps keep the stomach acid down.
How did you get your baby to sleep in the cot, rather than your bed? We’d love to hear in the comments below…