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Listen now: Surviving sleep deprivation with a young family

Tips for sleeping soundly as a family.

Sleep problems affect more than a third of infants in Australia, which in turn affects the whole family. While each case is unique, there are some basic principles parents can put in place to help a baby sleep, and by doing so, get more sleep themselves.

Jo Ryan is an author, baby sleep consultant, and founder and director of parenting support service Baby Bliss. Here are Jo’s practical tips to help ensure families are nodding off and feeling great in no time.

Change your attitude

Many people don’t understand how babies work. How would we know? We don’t remember being babies ourselves. As a result, we often set up unnecessary habits that babies rely on when they shouldn’t.

Parents can be afraid of putting down their baby awake, so they’ll try to put them to sleep in their arms or feed them to sleep before setting them down.

In this way, babies are never given the opportunity to put themselves to sleep. Adjusting how you approach your child’s sleep is important for the future and your own sleep schedule.

Develop rituals

Humans are creatures of habit. That’s why it’s important to introduce kids to rituals from an early age. By setting up a bedtime ritual, babies and toddlers will learn to anticipate the actions they go through before going to sleep. For toddlers, parents can establish a stronger ritual and have them actively involved.

Make the bedroom a place for sleep

It’s best to make a baby’s bedroom as conducive to sleep as possible. Babies can be distracted by brightly coloured images on walls and hanging objects over their cots, so it’s best to keep décor bland and remove mobiles from the ceiling.

Additionally, if your child is scared of the dark, rather than a nightlight, keep the door ajar with a hallway light on. This way, ambient light will flow into the room, keeping them drowsy and sleepy.

Get kids to bed early

Not only is putting your children down early good for their sleep, it also means that once they’re in bed, you and your partner can wind down too. Don’t waste time at night by doing things that can wait. Instead, just relax and do things you want or absolutely need to do.

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