Sleep is one of the most important ingredients for a child’s development and it is therefore vital to develop good sleeping habits at an early age. Newborns will typically sleep for around 18 hours a day, while young babies and toddlers will still sleep for 12 to 14 hours.
A baby’s sleeping and waking is erratic in the first few months, but over time they will learn to distinguish between night and day. By six months they will hopefully sleep through the night and at this point, you can begin trying to establish a routine.
If you put your child to bed when drowsy, this will help condition them to fall asleep at the appropriate time. By this age, you will also have an idea whether crying in the night indicates hunger, distress or whether the baby will most likely settle down again. If you always react to crying instantly, your child may feel it is a reward for waking up. It is also good to implement a ‘winding down’ regime before bedtime, which may involve feeding, then bathing, then settling.
A lot of parents will remain in the room as their child falls asleep, but eventually you will need to encourage your baby to fall asleep alone. You can ease them into this by first sitting slightly further away from the cot, then after a few nights of this, sitting by the door, until finally you need not be in the room at all.