Sleeping & Settling

 

There are many ways you can support your child to go to sleep, finding the strategy that best suits you and your family can be challenging. To move into sleep your child needs to feel safe, secure and relaxed plus be physically ready for sleep. At Karitane we use strategies which respond to your baby's cues. If you are changing the way you settle your baby, allow a few days/weeks to adjust to the new strategy.     
   
Remember, be consistent and if you have had enough, or your baby is becoming distressed, stop and calmly pick up your baby. Responding to your baby's cues will help them feel contained, safe and secure.

 

FAQ

(0-3 months)

Your baby will communicate their need for sleep through tired signs. Your ability to recognise your babies verbal and nonverbal cues will develop over time as you learn to communicate with eachother. Some common tired signs can include:

  • Clenched fists
  • Facial contortions
  • Jerky movements
  • Grizzling or crying
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Yawning
  • Staring

Responding to Tired Signs

The more time you spend with your baby, the more familiar you will become with their cues and signs they are tired and ready for sleep. When your baby starts to show tired signs it’s time to prepare for sleep. Babies can change quickly from being active and alert to showing signs they are tired. When they get to the crying stage they are already over tired and an over tired baby will find it much more difficult to get to sleep.  Keeping your baby up during the day is unlikely to make the night time sleep easier or longer.

Sleep needs vary from child to child. As babies get older they require less sleep and are able to stay awake for longer before tiring.

A flexible plan for your babys day time routine is following a feed play sleep pattern. Remember all babies are different so variation may be needed to meet your babys individual needs.

Birth to 6 weeks - average sleep can vary be-tween 12 - 20 hours per 24 hours for a new-born. Awake time may only be around 1 hour.

6 weeks to 3 months - awake time is about 1 -1½ hours and sleep time is about 1½ - 2½ hours.

Routines and Associations

Routines are beneficial for all ages. Predictability helps your baby feel safe and secure and promotes winding down for sleep. It is better to feed your baby after waking up. Babies that are fed just before sleep can come to depend on a feed to fall asleep as they get older.

Babies learn to associate certain things with winding down to sleep. Some things you can try are:

  • Warm bath before night time sleep
  • Being wrapped 
  • Story time or quiet play before bed
  • Music

 

There are many ways you can support your child to go to sleep, finding the strategy that best suits you and your family can be challenging. To move into sleep your child needs to feel safe, secure and relaxed plus be physically ready for sleep. At Karitane we use strategies which respond to your baby’s cues. If you are changing the way you settle your baby, allow a few days/weeks to adjust to the new strategy.

Remember, be consistent and if you have had enough, or your baby is becoming distressed, stop and calmly pick up your baby. Responding to your baby’s cues will help them feel contained, safe and secure.

It's really important that your child learns to feel safe and secure, so they can relax and move naturally into sleep. Be patient- change takes time, don't be afraid to get help.

Here are some settling options you could try with your baby:

Settling in Arms

Recommended for: 0 - 3 months and beyond.

This strategy can be useful for young babies, or an older baby having difficulty settling.

  • Cradle your baby in your arms, with or without gentle rocking, until your baby is calm. In the early days, you may need to hold your baby until they fall asleep
  • Gently place your baby in their cot on their back.
  • If your baby stirs or becomes upset when placed in the cot, stay with your baby and offer comfort until calm
  • You can combine some of the Hands-on Settling suggestions below to support your baby to move into sleep
  • If your baby becomes distressed pick up your baby and return to the first step

Hands-on Settling

Recommended for: 0 - 6 months and beyond

  • Following quiet time and sleep routine (e.g. wrap, story, and cuddle) place your baby in their cot on their back
  • Watch and respond to the cues your baby is giving you
  • If your baby remains calm, allow your baby to settle on their own. If they start to cry, try any of the following to provide comfort and reassurance:
  • Gentle ‘ssshhh’ sounds
  • Pat gently and rhythmically, e.g. thigh, shoulder, tummy or pat the mattress
  • Talk quietly, using comforting tones, e.g. ‘its ok’, ‘time for sleep’
  • Gently touch or stroke your baby’s head, arm, or leg
  • Gently rock the cot in a slow, rhythmic movement to calm your baby.
  • If at any time you feel like you’ve had enough, or your baby is not calming, stop and use a different strategy such as Settling in Arms.

Settling In a Pram

Sometimes using a pram to settle your baby can be a short-term option, such as when you are out. It may also work at home when your baby won’t settle in the cot. We recommend that this is only done during the day and have your baby facing you.

When out and about

  • It is best not to cover the pram. However If there are bright lights or other distractions, try using a hood to allow for air flow and have baby facing you.
  • Regularly check that your baby is not getting too hot and is settled When at home.
  • Use the pram as a last resort.
  • Movement may help calm your baby. Try walking the pram around the house (on one level) or take your baby for a walk outside in the pram.

If you are overwhelmed or stressed:

S-T-O-P:

Stop what you are doing

Take a few breaths

Observe (what is happening? how am I feeling? what is best to do next?)

Proceed

Here are a few suggestions you can try:

  • Place your baby gently in the cot and leave the room. Your baby is safe there while you calm yourself
  • Take a few deep, slow breaths. Stretch yourself or walk outside for a moment
  • Phone your Child and Family Health Centre or a relative or friend for support
  • Call the Karitane Careline on 1300227464.

 

Sleep needs vary from child to child. As babies get older they require less sleep and are able to stay awake for longer before tiring. A flexible plan for your babys day time routine is following a feed play sleep pattern. Remember all babies are different so variation may be needed to meet your babys individual needs.

Birth to 6 weeks - average sleep can vary between 12 - 20 hours per 24 hours for a new-born. Awake time may only be around 1 hour.

6 weeks to 3 months - awake time is about 1 -1½ hours and sleep time is about 1½ - 2½ hours.

(3-6 months)

Your baby will communicate their need for sleep through tired signs. Your ability to recognise your babies verbal and nonverbal cues will develop over time as you learn to communicate with eachother. Some common tired signs can include:

  • Clenched fists
  • Facial Contortions
  • Jerky movements
  • Grizzling or crying
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Yawning
  • Staring

Responding to Tired Signs

The more time you spend with your baby, the more familiar you will become with their cues and signs that they are tired and ready for sleep. When your baby starts to show tired signs, it’s time to prepare for sleep. Babies can change quickly from being active and alert to showing signs that they are tired. When they get to the crying stage they are already over tired and an over tired baby will find it much harder to sleep.  Keeping your baby up during the day is unlikely to make the night time sleep easier or longer.

Sleep needs vary from child to child and as babies get older they require less sleep and are able to stay awake for longer before tiring. Routines are beneficial for all ages. Predictability helps your baby feel safe and secure and promotes winding down for sleep. It is better to feed your baby after waking up. Babies that are fed just before sleep can come to depend on a feed to fall asleep as they get older. A flexible plan for your babys day time routine is following a feed play sleep pattern. Remember all babies are different so variation may be needed to meet your babys individual needs.

3- 6 months - awake time is about 1½ - 2½ hours and sleep time is about 1½ - 2½ hours.

Routines and Associations

Routines are beneficial for all ages. Predictability helps your baby feel safe and secure and promotes winding down for sleep. It is better to feed your baby after waking up. Babies that are fed just before sleep can come to depend on a feed to fall asleep as they get older.

Babies learn to associate certain things with winding down to sleep. Some things you can try are:

  • Warm bath before night time sleep
  • Being wrapped
  • Story time or quiet play before bed
  • Music

 

 

There are many ways you can support your child to go to sleep, finding the strategy that best suits you and your family can be challenging. To move into sleep your child needs to feel safe, secure and relaxed plus be physically ready for sleep. At Karitane we use strategies which respond to your baby’s cues. If you are changing the way you settle your baby, allow a few days/weeks to adjust to the new strategy.

Remember, be consistent and if you have had enough, or your baby is becoming distressed, stop and calmly pick up your baby. Responding to your baby’s cues will help them feel contained, safe and secure.

It's really important that your child learns to feel safe and secure, so they can relax and move naturally into sleep. Be patient- change takes time, don't be afraid to get help.

Here are some settling options you could try with your baby:

Settling in Arms

Recommended for: 0 - 3 months and beyond.

This strategy can be useful for young babies, or an older baby having difficulty settling.

  • Cradle your baby in your arms, with or without gentle rocking, until your baby is calm. In the early days, you may need to hold your baby until they fall asleep
  • Gently place your baby in their cot on their back.
  • If your baby stirs or becomes upset when placed in the cot, stay with your baby and offer comfort until calm
  • You can combine some of the Hands-on Settling suggestions below to support your baby to move into sleep
  • If your baby becomes distressed pick up your baby and return to the first step

Hands-on Settling

Recommended for: 0 - 6 months and beyond

  • Following quiet time and sleep routine (e.g. wrap, story, and cuddle) place your baby in their cot on their back
  • Watch and respond to the cues your baby is giving you
  • If your baby remains calm, allow your baby to settle on their own. If they start to cry, try any of the following to provide comfort and reassurance:
  • Gentle ‘ssshhh’ sounds
  • Pat gently and rhythmically, e.g. thigh, shoulder, tummy or pat the mattress
  • Talk quietly, using comforting tones, e.g. ‘its ok’, ‘time for sleep’
  • Gently touch or stroke your baby’s head, arm, or leg
  • Gently rock the cot in a slow, rhythmic movement to calm your baby.
  • If at any time you feel like you’ve had enough, or your baby is not calming, stop and use a different strategy such as ‘Settling in Arms’

Settling In a Pram

Sometimes using a pram to settle your baby can be a short-term option, such as when you are out. It may also work at home when your baby won’t settle in the cot. We recommend that this is only done during the day and have your baby facing you.

When out and about

  • It is best not to cover the pram. However If there are bright lights or other distractions, try using a hood to allow for air flow and have baby facing you
  • Regularly check that your baby is not getting too hot and is settled When at home
  • Use the pram as a last resort
  • Movement may help calm your baby. Try walking the pram around the house (on one level) or take your baby for a walk outside in the pram

A flexible plan for your babys day time routine is following a feed play sleep pattern. Remember all babies are different so variation may be needed to meet your babys individual needs.

3- 6 months - awake time is about 1½ - 2½ hours and sleep time is about 1½ - 2½ hours.

(6-12 months)

Your baby will communicate their need for sleep through tired signs. Your ability to recognise your babies verbal and nonverbal cues will develop over time as you learn to communicate with eachother. Some common tired signs can include:

  • Upset
  • Irritable or whingey
  • Clingy or fussy
  • Uncooperative
  • Short concentration span
  • Lose coordination or clumsey
  • Rub their eyes or yawn
  • Bored with toys

Responding to Tired Signs

The more time you spend with your baby, the more familiar you will become with their cues and signs that they are tired and ready for sleep. When your baby starts to show tired signs, it’s time to prepare for sleep. Babies can change quickly from being active and alert to showing signs that they are tired. When they get to the crying stage they are already over tired and an over tired baby will find it much harder to sleep.  Keeping your baby up during the day is unlikely to make the night time sleep easier or longer.

Sleep needs vary from child to child and as babies get older they require less sleep and are able to stay awake for longer before tiring. Routines are beneficial for all ages. Predictability helps your baby feel safe and secure and promotes winding down for sleep. It is better to feed your baby after waking up. Babies that are fed just before sleep can come to depend on a feed to fall asleep as they get older. A flexible plan for your babys day time routine is following a feed play sleep pattern. Remember all babies are different so variation may be needed to meet your babys individual needs.

6- 9 months - awake time is about 2½ - 3 hours with 2 day sleeps of about 1½ - 2 hours.

9- 12 months - awake time is about 3 - 4 hours

Routines and Associations

Routines are beneficial for all ages. Predictability helps your baby feel safe and secure and promotes winding down for sleep. It is better to feed your baby after waking up. Babies that are fed just before sleep can come to depend on a feed to fall asleep as they get older.

Babies learn to associate certain things with winding down to sleep. Some things you can try are:

  • Warm bath before night time sleep
  • Story time or quiet play before bed
  • Music

There are many ways you can support your child to go to sleep, finding the strategy that best suits you and your family can be challenging. To move into sleep your child needs to feel safe, secure and relaxed plus be physically ready for sleep. At Karitane we use strategies which respond to your baby’s cues. If you are changing the way you settle your baby, allow a few days/weeks to adjust to the new strategy.

Remember, be consistent and if you have had enough, or your baby is becoming distressed, stop and calmly pick up your baby. Responding to your baby’s cues will help them feel contained, safe and secure.

It's really important that your child learns to feel safe and secure, so they can relax and move naturally into sleep. Be patient- change takes time, don't be afraid to get help.

Here are some settling options you could try with your baby:

Settling in Arms

Recommended for: 0 - 3 months and beyond.

This strategy can be useful for young babies, or an older baby having difficulty settling.

  • Cradle your baby in your arms, with or without gentle rocking, until your baby is calm. In the early days, you may need to hold your baby until they fall asleep
  • Gently place your baby in their cot on their back.
  • If your baby stirs or becomes upset when placed in the cot, stay with your baby and offer comfort until calm
  • You can combine some of the Hands-on Settling suggestions below to support your baby to move into sleep
  • If your baby becomes distressed pick up your baby and return to the first step

 

Hands-on Settling

Recommended for: 0 - 6 months and beyond

  • Following quiet time and sleep routine (e.g. wrap, story, and cuddle) place your baby in their cot on their back
  • Watch and respond to the cues your baby is giving you
  • If your baby remains calm, allow your baby to settle on their own. If they start to cry, try any of the following to provide comfort and reassurance:
  • Gentle ‘ssshhh’ sounds
  • Pat gently and rhythmically, e.g. thigh, shoulder, tummy or pat the mattress
  • Talk quietly, using comforting tones, e.g. ‘its ok’, ‘time for sleep’
  • Gently touch or stroke your baby’s head, arm, or leg
  • Gently rock the cot in a slow, rhythmic movement to calm your baby.
  • If at any time you feel like you’ve had enough, or your baby is not calming, stop and use a different strategy such as “Settling in Arms

 

Comfort Settling

Recommended for: 6 months and beyond

Comfort settling is different to ‘Hands-on’ settling in that it allows some space for your baby to discover their own way of going to sleep.

  • Quiet time and preparation for sleep routine (e.g. bath, wrap, story, and cuddle)
  • Place your baby in the cot awake on their back
  • If this is a new strategy, stay in the room for a few minutes and make gentle ‘shh shh’ sounds
  • If your baby remains calm, leave the room. If unsettled, stay and provide reassurance until calm
  • When you leave the room, remain somewhere close by in case more reassurance is needed
  • If your baby starts making noises, wait before you intervene. Babbling, whinging, brief cries and movement are common when a baby is trying to settle
  • If your baby’s cries go up and down in volume, wait a short time to see if they will go to sleep
  • If the noise continues to increase, return to your baby and offer comfort while your baby is still in the cot If this is not working, use the techniques from ‘Hands-on’ or ‘Settling in Arms’. Try again next sleep cycle as baby learns with consistent and predictable patterns

Parental Presence

Recommended for:  6 months and beyond This strategy is useful if your baby becomes distressed when you leave the room. It may take from 1 – 4 weeks. During the day stay in the baby’s room until they are asleep and during the night sleep in the baby’s room.

  • Have a quiet, calm room that is dimly lit
  • Have a bed or mattress in the room for you to lie on
  • Stay in view, remain calm, close your eyes and breathe slowly
  • If your baby wakes, make a small noise or movement to let them know that you are still there without interacting directly
  • If your baby is crying and needs reassurance, offer comfort such as ‘shhh’ sounds or gentle soft words such as ‘time for sleep now’. Move on to other forms of comfort as needed
  • Aim to have your baby stay in their cot. Once your baby is calm, lie down, close your eyes and breathe slowly
  • If at any time you feel like you’ve had enough, or your baby continues to be distressed, stop and use a different strategy such as ‘Hands-on’ or ‘Settling in Arms’
  • Once your baby has had 3 consecutive nights of relatively uninterrupted sleep, begin to leave the room before your baby is asleep and move to your own room

Settling In a Pram

Sometimes using a pram to settle your baby can be a short-term option, such as when you are out. It may also work at home when your baby won’t settle in the cot. We recommend that this is only done during the day and have your baby facing you.

When out and about

  • It is best not to cover the pram. However If there are bright lights or other distractions, try using a hood to allow for air flow and have baby facing you
  • Regularly check that your baby is not getting too hot and is settled

When at home

  • Use the pram as a last resort
  • Movement may help calm your baby. Try walking the pram around the house (on one level) or take your baby for a walk outside in the pram

A flexible plan for your babys day time routine is following a feed play sleep pattern. Remember all babies are different so variation may be needed to meet your babys individual needs.

6- 9 months - awake time is about 2½ - 3 hours with 2 day sleeps of about 1½ - 2 hours.

9- 12 months - awake time is about 3 - 4 hours

(12+ months)

Your baby will communicate their need for sleep through tired signs. Your ability to recognise your babies verbal and nonverbal cues will develop over time as you learn to communicate with eachother. Some common tired signs can include:

Upset

Irritable or whingey

Clingy or fussy

Unco-operative

Short concentration span

Lose co-ordination or clumsy

Rub their eyes or yawn

Bored with toys

Responding to Tired Signs

The more time you spend with your baby, the more familiar you will become with their cues and signs that they are tired and ready for sleep. When your baby starts to show tired signs, it’s time to prepare for sleep. Babies can change quickly from being active and alert to showing signs that they are tired. When they get to the crying stage they are already over tired and an over tired baby will find it much harder to sleep.  Keeping your baby up during the day is unlikely to make the night time sleep easier or longer.

Sleep needs vary from child to child and as babies get older they require less sleep and are able to stay awake for longer before tiring. Routines are beneficial for all ages. Predictability helps your baby feel safe and secure and promotes winding down for sleep. It is better to feed your baby after waking up. Babies that are fed just before sleep can come to depend on a feed to fall asleep as they get older. Routines are beneficial for all ages. Predictability helps your baby feel safe and secure and promotes winding down for sleep. It is better to feed your baby after waking up. Babies that are fed just before sleep can come to depend on a feed to fall asleep as they get older.

12-18 months

Awake time is 4 – 6 hours and sleep time is 1 – 3 hours. Average number of day sleeps is 1-2.

18 months - 3 years

Awake time is 5-7 hours and sleep time is 1 – 2 hours. Average number of day sleeps is 1.

Babies learn to associate certain things with winding down to sleep. Some things you can try are:

  • Warm bath before night time sleep
  • Being wrapped (link to how to wrap your baby)
  • Story time or quiet play before bed
  • Music

The right strategy to get your baby to sleep will depend on what works for both of you. For any settling strategy, first consider the following:

It’s important to provide a Safe Sleep Environment.

Before trying a new strategy, you might like to try our Crying Baby Checklist.

Persevere – your baby is unlikely to relax if you keep switching strategy every few minutes!

However, if your baby is becoming more and more unsettled, then it is right to change the strategy. Persisting with a strategy that is not working only makes your baby more tired and harder to settle.

 

It is not always easy to know when to persist and when it is best to change strategies. For help deciding, call the Kartiane Careline on 1300 227 464 (available 7 days a week).

If you are trying to change how to settle your baby to sleep, allow time to adjust. It may take more than a few days.

Don’t be afraid to seek help (see I’ve had enough! What do I do now?).

Be consistent. If you or your baby have had enough, or your baby shows no signs of calming – stop and use a different strategy.

Be patient – change takes time!

 

Hands-on Settling

Recommended for: 0 - 6 months and beyond

  • Following quiet time and sleep routine (e.g. wrap, story, and cuddle) place your baby in their cot on their back
  • Watch and respond to the cues your baby is giving you
  • If your baby remains calm, allow your baby to settle on their own. If they start to cry, try any of the following to provide comfort and reassurance:
  • Gentle ‘ssshhh’ sounds
  • Pat gently and rhythmically, e.g. thigh, shoulder, tummy or pat the mattress
  • Talk quietly, using comforting tones, e.g. ‘its ok’, ‘time for sleep’
  • Gently touch or stroke your baby’s head, arm, or leg
  • Gently rock the cot in a slow, rhythmic movement to calm your baby.
  • If at any time you feel like you’ve had enough, or your baby is not calming, stop and use a different strategy such as “Settling in Arms�?

Comfort Settling Recommended for: 6 months and beyond

Comfort settling is different to ‘Hands-on’ settling in that it allows some space for your baby to discover their own way of going to sleep.

  • Quiet time and preparation for sleep routine (e.g. bath, wrap, story, and cuddle)
  • Place your baby in the cot awake on their back
  • If this is a new strategy, stay in the room for a few minutes and make gentle ‘shh shh’ sounds
  • If your baby remains calm, leave the room. If unsettled, stay and provide reassurance until calm
  • When you leave the room, remain somewhere close by in case more reassurance is needed
  • If your baby starts making noises, wait before you intervene. Babbling, whinging, brief cries and movement are common when a baby is trying to settle
  • If your baby’s cries go up and down in volume, wait a short time to see if they will go to sleep
  • If the noise continues to increase, return to your baby and offer comfort while your baby is still in the cot If this is not working, use the techniques from ‘Hands-on’ or ‘Settling in Arms’. Try again next sleep cycle as baby learns with consistent and predictable patterns

Parental Presence

Recommended for:  6 months and beyond This strategy is useful if your baby becomes distressed when you leave the room. It may take from 1 – 4 weeks. During the day stay in the baby’s room until they are asleep and during the night sleep in the baby’s room.

  • Have a quiet, calm room that is dimly lit
  • Have a bed or mattress in the room for you to lie on
  • Stay in view, remain calm, close your eyes and breathe slowly
  • If your baby wakes, make a small noise or movement to let them know that you are still there without interacting directly
  • If your baby is crying and needs reassurance, offer comfort such as ‘shhh’ sounds or gentle soft words such as ‘time for sleep now’. Move on to other forms of comfort as needed
  • Aim to have your baby stay in their cot. Once your baby is calm, lie down, close your eyes and breathe slowly
  • If at any time you feel like you’ve had enough, or your baby continues to be distressed, stop and use a different strategy such as ‘Hands-on’ or ‘Settling in Arms’
  • Once your baby has had 3 consecutive nights of relatively uninterrupted sleep, begin to leave the room before your baby is asleep and move to your own room

Gradual Withdrawal

Gradual Withdrawal Recommended for: 12 months and beyond

The aim of Gradual Withdrawal is for your child to learn to fall asleep without your help. This is a good strategy when moving from a cot to a bed. Gradual Withdrawal starts with you being close to your child while they fall asleep. Over the next few days or weeks, you slowly move further away until your child is confident to settle on their own.

  • Put your child in bed and start by sitting beside or on the bed. Your child may like some physical contact initially, e.g. holding hands
  • Reassure your child that if they stay in bed, you will remain until they have fallen asleep (e.g. end of bed, on a chair in the room)
  • Avoid discussions and responding to requests such as ‘I want a drink’ or ‘another story’
  • If your child continually gets out of bed, calmly take your child back to bed
  • Over the following days or weeks, gradually increase the distance between you, until eventually you are outside the room
  • Once outside the room, reassure your child that you are nearby. If your child leaves the bed, walk them back calmly saying “it’s time for bed�? During the day, if your child does not actually go to sleep, don’t be discouraged. Each attempt to settle in bed is a valuable learning experience.

Alternate Strategies to Calm your Baby

Settling In a Pram

Sometimes using a pram to settle your baby can be a short-term option, such as when you are out. It may also work at home when your baby won’t settle in the cot. We recommend that this is only done during the day and have your baby facing you.

When out and about

  • It is best not to cover the pram. However If there are bright lights or other distractions, try using a hood to allow for air flow and have baby facing you
  • Regularly check that your baby is not getting too hot and is settled

When at home

  • Use the pram as a last resort
  • Movement may help calm your baby. Try walking the pram around the house (on one level) or take your baby for a walk outside in the pram