How to get your newborn to sleep (tips from a mother of sleepers)

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Sleeping babies, they’re like unicorns – elusive mythical creatures that are mentioned in parental folklore but rarely encountered.

But unlike unicorns – or mermaid vaginas, or Kanye West’s sense of decency – they really do exist. I know because I scored three of them.

This makes me a complete arsehole – yes – but also a well-rested arsehole. A well-rested arsehole who may or may not have the winning formula, the silver bullet, the kale-and-chia seed-infused wonder elixir that will transform your crumple-faced tyrant into one of those angel babies you see on television commercials.

But you can breathe easy, my friends, because my “methods” have nothing to do with kale or chia seeds. Sleep deprivation is torture enough, who needs to be guzzling cabbage and picking furry seeds from their teeth?

So here are my suggestions. They could make the world of difference, or do sweet fuck-all. But if you’re irate and look like an extra from The Walking Dead, maybe it’s worth a shot*.


  • Put bub in own cot and room as early as possible**

This sounds like a shit idea, yes? I mean, who really wants to get up every two hours and wander into another room, sometimes in the cold, when you could just flop a boob into a bassinet and be done with it?

It’s certainly not for everyone, and yet I suspect this is one of the biggest factors in our success. Our babies went into their cot from day one at home.  I like to think of it as short term pain for long term gain.

Baby sleep noises can disrupt your sleep – as adult sleep noises can disrupt theirs. By placing a well-fed, warm and wrapped baby in a safe sleeping environment in their own room, you’re giving everyone the chance to sleep more soundly. It also gives bub the opportunity to grow familiar with their bedroom, effectively avoiding the horror of being shafted out of their parents’ room at a later date.

Other benefits include having sexy time without scarring your child for life (hurrah!) and avoiding the dreaded Controlled Crying issue (simply because your bub is comfortable in their surroundings from day one).

  • Plug it up! (with a dummy/pacifier)

Repeat after me: dummies are friends, not foes. Not just friends, best friends. The type of best friend who knocks on your door with a bottle of wine after a crappy day, or who learns how to twirl nipple tassels to Kelis’ Milkshake and then sends you videos at wildly inappropriate times, just for shits and giggles.

A perfectly healthy weight baby, metabolically speaking, does not need to be fed during the night after around four months of age. Using the dummy can be a convenient way to break the comfort feeding cycle, and give you some well-earned rest.

Be warned some babies don’t take to them easily (my second-born took four and a half months) but the persistence is worth it. Sure, you might have to jump out of bed and “plug” the baby every now and then, but they quickly learn to search for it themselves.

And don’t worry about getting rid of it – we did so with little fuss following four handy steps.***

  • Wrap It!

At the risk of sounding like a lame sunscreen commercial or high school sex ed teacher, just wrap it (the baby, that is).

Find a swaddle/sleeping bag/wrap that suits bub and introduce it into their sleep routine from an early stage. It will provide safety and comfort when they are little and become something they associate with sleep when they are older.

It will also stop them from waking themselves with their startle reflex, which people often mistake as a sign their baby does not like to be wrapped. As an experienced midwife explains here, it is a safe and effective part of getting bub to sleep.

  • Find a routine that suits you (after four months)

I’m not a fan of routines for newborn babies – partly because they read like a list of shouty instructions from a military drill sergeant, and partly because they don’t allocate enough time to crucial aspects of caring for a newborn, like hiding in the pantry and scoffing a family-sized pack of Tim Tams.

I have always let ours feed whenever, sleep whenever (and wherever during the day) and given them as much cuddle time as I could afford. Around the four month mark they tended to fall into their own sleeping and feeding patterns and we worked with these to develop a routine that suited all of us (which included placing bub in their cot for day sleeps).


If all goes to plan, both you and bub will be catching Zs in no time – leaving plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company when you’re both happy and refreshed.

For our family, it meant that our babies were sleeping for eight-hour stretches at six weeks, and a full 12 hours by the 12-week mark. It has taken the stress and tears (for everyone) out of nap and bed times, and created positive sleep habits that have continued into childhood.

And if it’s not for you, no worries. Just take heart that babies can sleep – it is all about finding out what works best for them AND you.

Good luck!

If you are struggling with sleep issues and you would like professional advice, please seek advice from your GP about support services in your area. Tresillian  and Karitane are two such services available in the Sydney Greater Metropolitan area. Click on the links for more information and contact details.


Want to know more about what we did? Want to share your sleep tips and tricks? Please feel free to add your questions or advice below!


*I have zero qualifications other than having three perfect sleepers. Feel free to not take my advice.

**Please note that SIDS Australia sleep guidelines recommend keeping bub in your bedroom for six-12 months. While we thought it important to follow SIDS guidelines we weighed up the risks vs benefits and decided we were comfortable with following all guidelines bar this one, however this is a personal decision each parent or couple has to make.

***Handy steps for getting rid of the dummy include:

1. Restrict the dummy to sleep time only from 12-18 months. 2. Ensure they have a favourite teddy to sleep with. 3. Speak about getting rid of dummy with the child, how and why you’re doing it. 4. Involve the child in the throwing away process (child hands them over to shop assistant or throws them in the bin) and ensure all are gone (so it’s final for everyone).



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