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Getting your baby sleeping in a cot

How to get your baby used to sleeping on her own, in the nursery, and in a cot

Copyright RexOne of the first things you’ll notice as a parent, when you’ve finally got your adorable little one off to sleep, is the cacophony of sounds they use throughout the night. At some point, you have to get your baby used to sleeping on her own in a cot in her own room – it’s challenging, but we’ve found some things you can do to make the process that bit easier.

Every baby looks adorable sleeping – whether she’s in a Moses basket or your arms, during the night or the middle of the day, your baby will have her own sleeping pattern.

For the first six months it’s recommended that she sleeps in your room. Not only is this good from a safety point of view, but having her close enough to reach out and comfort when you’re in bed is also good for bonding.

But what happens when you reach that six-month mark? Well there’s no set date or time that you must move your baby out of your room and into a nursery, it is entirely up to you and your family. Parents today have busy lifestyles and when baby can’t sleep, usually it means that mum and dad can’t sleep. You may be being kept awake by your baby’s wriggling and noisy breathing, or perhaps having her in your room is affecting your relationship.

"As your baby gets older, usually around the four-month mark, you and your baby will sync sleep cycles," says baby sleep expert, Jo Tantum.

"This means you can actually start disturbing your baby’s sleep as you both come into light sleep at the same time. Because of this, and the whole menagerie of noises she may make when sleeping, some parents find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep and will decide to move their little one sooner. It’s your choice."

But regardless of age, you have to think of the long-term affect – if you aren’t sleeping at night then this will most likely affect your energy levels during the day, which is when you want to be at your best so you can spend time bonding with your baby.

Doing anything new can be daunting, even for us adults, so try and ease your baby into the new process at a slow pace. It’s normal for everything not to be in place overnight – the chances are that your little one won’t like being in a new environment straight away so it’s going to take a bit of getting used to – for her, and for you.

To make the process a little bit easier for everyone, Jo recommends putting your baby for daytime naps in the nursery from around two weeks old. "This is because when you do decide to put your baby in her own room, if she has never slept in there before then she may feel insecure and won’t settle," explains Jo.

Make sure you give your baby lots of attention and cuddles while you move her into her own bedroom. She may be confused about her new scenery at first, but once she’s settled, resist the urge to bring her back into your room – even if she’s upset.  Bringing her back into your room will only reward her for her cries.

Sleep isn’t something you can switch on and off with a button (we wish!) – sleep must overcome your little one naturally. A parent’s role is to make your baby’s sleeping environment as attractive and as comfortable as possible. Also, you could try presenting little cues as you near bedtime to suggest to your little one sleep is expected. Be patient, what works one week may not work the next.

"Make sure that you involve the bedtime routine, such as having a bath, perhaps some baby massage, putting on pyjamas and having a feed, all happens in your baby’s nursery," says Jo. "Also, playing noises such as waves, rain or womb sounds  each time she goes to sleep will help her feel calm and will act as a trigger for sleep."

It’s said that the younger your baby is, the easier this process will be. But it could take anything from a few days to several months for her to settle, and it can also depend on how long she’s been sleeping near you.

At the end of the day, it’s perfectly natural to feel a bit anxious about moving your little one out of your room and into a nursery. But it’s best all round to approach this change sooner rather than later.

If it plays on your mind, why not invest in a baby monitor? There are a number of different types available in most supermarkets, baby shops and even online. Some have video so you can watch your little one sleeping; others have temperature sensors and nightlights. Have a browse and see what works for you – the one thing they all have in common is that they give you the peace of mind that your little one is okay.

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