Q. Can you tell me how much sleep does my baby need?
A. Sleep needs vary, between babies. Each baby has their own sleep pattern and often babies do not have regular sleeping patterns until they are older. You may find our sleep and settle brochure on the Karitane website helpful for gaining an understanding of the sleep needs of babies of various ages.
Q. I have heard that babies cry because they are overtired. How would I know?
A. If your baby has only short sleeps they can become overtired. An overtired baby may grizzle, cry even though they have just been fed, rub their eyes, have poor eye contact, seem to stare into space, yawn, have clenched fists, startle easily and have tense or jerky movements.
Q. How can I help my baby to settle?
A. Your baby may be tired after a feed, change, playtime and cuddle. It's best to put her to bed when she shows tired signs. Overtired babies can be harder to settle. Wrap your baby in a light cotton fabric (available from Karitane by telephoning (02) 9794 2300). The fabric will need to be at least one meter squared. Your baby should be wrapped with her hands up near her face, as she may like to suck on her hands or use her hands to self-soothe. If you are unsure how to wrap your baby please refer to our Wrapping Your Baby Information Brochure on the Karitane website. Place your baby on her back at the lower end of the cot and tuck in firmly. If your baby is calm and relaxed leave the room and allow her to go to sleep on her own. If she needs help to settle gently pat, body rock, rock her cot, or stroke her face and head. Gradually, slow down and reduce these techniques as she calms and relaxes. Some babies enjoy having background music played while they sleep - this could be your favourite radio station with the volume on low or any soothing and relaxing music that you have.
Q. I sometimes put him to bed and he just keeps crying. What do I do?
A. If you are unable to stop your baby crying, try comforting him in your arms briefly until he is calm, and then place him back in the cot awake and try some settling techniques. See our Information Brochure for age appropriate techniques. You may choose to continue these techniques for approximately thirty minutes. If your baby does not settle you may choose to take him for a walk in the pram or pouch, give him a massage or a relaxation bath. Then try to re-settle. At the next sleep time follow the same routine. Remember being consistent is what will teach your baby to sleep. If you are unsure how to wrap your baby please refer to our Wrapping Your Baby brochure or if your baby continues to cry contact the Careline on 1300 227464, or your Child and Family Health Nurse or General Practitioner.
Q. Is there a safe way to make up baby's bed? I hear so much about SIDS.
A. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), Kids Organisation promotes baby's beds being clean with a firm, flat and comfortable mattress. The mattress should fit the cot snugly so baby cannot get stuck down the side. Gaps at the side and ends should be less than 2.5cm. Your baby should be placed in the cot on her back with her feet positioned at the foot of the bed, make up the bed so the sheets do not cover her face. For more information visit The SIDS & Kids website.
For more information visit the SIDS & Kids website.
Q. What about SIDS and my baby sleeping? What should I do?
A. Keep baby's head uncovered. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) & Kids Organisation promotes a smoke free environment for all infants and children. They recommend that babies are placed on the back to sleep with the face uncovered and feet positioned at the foot of the cot. SIDS & Kids also warn against risks associated with bed sharing particularly if either parent is affected by alcohol or drugs that may make them sleep more heavily. Do not place bumpers, pillows or quilts in the cot and remember to remove all toys prior to settling, as these items could restrict air flow or cover your baby's face.
To check current recommendations about these issues telephone 9818 8400 (NSW) or visit http://www.sidsandkids.org.
Night waking 7 months - 18 months.
Q. I have an 11 month old baby who I breast feed to sleep. He wakes up all through the night. I have tried comfort settling/controlled crying a few months ago and he was too hysterical for me to persist with it (I tried for 2 weeks and only achieved some improvement).
A. It may be helpful for your baby to learn to go to sleep without having a breast feed, as he would then learn how to put himself back to sleep when he comes up into a light sleep and wakes. We would suggest using progressive waking technique for a baby of this age - a Information Brochure on this technique titeld 'Sleep & Settle' can be downloaded from our website. It would also be helpful to take a look at his day time routine. Children at this age usually have 2 sleeps a day, 1 to 2 hours in am and about an hour in the afternoon. It's important to be consistent though certainly you can adjust this settling and resettling to your situation. If you require extra clarification on the settling technique or some support you can ring the Karitane Careline on 1300 227 464. If you require some extra support with setting, you can also contact your local Early Childhood Hearth Centre.
Q. My son is 15 months old, and in the past 2 weeks has started to wake at night. He has got a molar coming through and I was wondering if he is waking because of this, or is he getting used to us coming in to comfort him. My husband tried to do this, as my son knows that I can feed him, but he is loosing a lot of sleep and he has to get up and go to work. We have tried controlled comforting and it doesn't seem to work. He also has just had an injection and the spot where the needle went in is really warm. Could this also be an issue?
A. It sounds like all the things you have suggested, the teething or injection, may have contributed to his night waking. Sometimes a child may start waking for a reason such as being sick or uncomfortable, and at these times it is important that you do attend to them. Most of the time, once the discomfort has passed, the child will start sleeping well again, but sometimes they become accustomed to the extra time you spend with them and can continue to wake at night looking for that extra comfort.
What can you do?
First: Make sure your child is well and comfortable.
Second: Continue with the settling as you have been doing, remembering that sometimes it may take a few weeks to see results.
One of the most important things to remember when settling your child is to be consistent (always giving the same message, doing the same thing, this includes every time they go to bed e.g. all sleeps day and night) and be persistent. An Information Brochure about how to settle your baby can be downloaded from our website titled 'Sleep & Settle'.
We would also recommend that you start settling at a time that will suit your life style, usually on the weekend when possibly your husband does not need to get up for work the next day. You could also take it in turns to settle your little boy. Make up your mind beforehand not to offer him the breast - this will also reinforce to your son that he does not need the breast to go to sleep.
While you are working on his night time routine, you may like to review his day time sleeps. Some babies at one year are able to manage with only one day time sleep, after an early lunch. They may sleep for approximately 2 1/2 - 3 hours, though some babies need the 2 sleeps until they are 18mths old. Sometimes when an older child is having a lot of sleep during the day it impacts on their night sleeping. If you require some more information or support you can also ring the Karitane Careline on 1300 227 464.
Night waking 19 months - 3 years
Q. I have a 2 year old daughter. I love her to death but at the moment she is driving me crazy. For the past few months, she has been coming into our bed at night. She started off with a vomiting bug so I would not let her sleep alone. Then we went on holidays for two weeks and she ended up with a cold, so the moment she coughed, I was in bed with her.
A. This is a very common situation. Often, after some type of setback (such as an illness) you bring your child into bed with you and they become used to it. I would suggest to you to try a settling technique. You may find it useful to download our Information Brochure on sleep which outline settling techniques for various ages, including the gradual withdrawal technique for toddlers in a bed. The best time to start implementing any strategy is during the day and at a time that suits you. You could start off targeting her day sleeps then move onto her night time sleep. It might also be a good idea to start on a weekend.
Remember often when you implement settling techniques, they work fairly quickly, (a few days to a couple of weeks). The important thing is to be consistent with your approach. You might need to persist for a little while before you see results. It is not uncommon for children to become a bit worse, just before you see an improvement. Remember that children find routines reassuring, so include a routine at bedtime.