‘I have always had the same routine since the day Samuel was born. After dinner (or when he was a baby – the last bottle of the day), we go upstairs for a bath and a story. His story always took place in his cot (now his bed) and we never went downstairs again. I never took him into my room at this time of the day.
‘I felt it was important that he knew that his room was where he got ready for bed and slept. Now he will look at books himself in bed before he falls asleep. My top tip would be – do not get your little one ready for bed anywhere other than their own room.’
Filippa Woolf, 46, mum to Samuel, four and a half
‘Both of my babies responded really well to music, so I used to feed them, then walk them around the bedroom rocking them gently to the rhythm of a quiet lullaby. Eventually, I started laying them down while the lullaby was still playing, and that seemed to help them stay settled in the transition from my arms to the cot.’
Emily Leary, 33, mum to JD, eight, and Jay, four
‘Once swaddled, rocking them while gently shushing just past their ear works a treat. Babies don’t multitask well, so alternate shush-patting while rocking: two pats on the back, two on the bum, works well. If they have colic, lying them on their tummies across your forearm, with a hand supporting their chest, can help when rocking them and they often doze off in that position.
‘Babies will also automatically close their eyes if you shade them with your hand and this helps them to drop off.’
Jake Biggin, 43, dad to Sam, seven, and Alice, four
‘No TV, bright lights or excitement half an hour before bed, and I read a nice bedtime story (but one with no interactive things like pop-up flaps) in her room with the night light on, before a big cuddle.’
Amy Tarrant, 32, mum to Theadora, one
‘Establish a bedtime routine early on – bath, feed, snuggle, then bed – so they know what to expect and realise this is the time to sleep. Do the same for naps.’
Georgina Maric, 45, mum to Saskia, nine, and Max, five
‘I kept both of my daughters in bed with me, following the safety guidelines for bedsharing, of course. It made night feeds and nappy changes so much easier, and often I could feed or cuddle them back to sleep without either of us being disturbed too much or even fully waking up. It took some getting used to with my first child but, even then, I found that my body naturally curled around her protectively.
‘Co-sleeping may not be right for everyone, but it’s worked so well for our family that, even though I’m pregnant with my third child, I haven’t even considered getting a cot – and probably won’t get one at all. Every family has to make an informed decision about what suits them best.’
Adele Jarrett-Kerr, 29, mum to Talitha, four and a half, and Ophelia, two
‘I always find singing to my baby and gently stroking his face helps him sleep, he loves pulling his blanket or soft toys to his face, and feeling the textures on his skin, so he grasps my hand as if to block out any light, and this soothes him.’
Chloe Holding, 35, mum to Sonny, eight months
‘I believe that winding down at bedtime and not getting them over excited is key to helping children sleep. Every child is different, so try something calming after a bedtime bottle, such as a bath followed by a massage, or just a cuddle and a story – whatever works for you and your baby. Keep that routine every day to help your child recognise those cues and they’ll soon drift off.’
Katy Flint, 32, mum to Little G, four, and LJ, two
‘I used to play the song Morningtown Ride by The Seekers to my daughter Eve and sing along. She may have pretended to go to sleep just to stop me singing! When she was young, I’d lay her down and then leave her for a short while, then come back and keep leaving her a little longer each time. It was so she knew I would come back and not cry.’
Sarah Sinton, 32, mum to Eve, three
'Sleep cycles change rapidly from newborn to six to eight weeks. It's very important to establish good sleeping habits during this time to create effective sleep routines.'
ALL BABIES ARE DIFFERENT, BUT WILL USUALLY NAP EVERY TWO HOURS UNTIL THREE MONTHS OLD.
Newborns: Very young babies sleep no less than 18 hours per day, with irregular periods of time spent awake.
Babies: For the first year, babies need at least 12 hours sleep a day, including two main naps and one catnap, which is normally around 30 minutes. The three-month stage is a good time to introduce a bedtime routine, if you haven’t already.
Toddlers: From around the age of 12 months to three years, children need roughly 12-14 hours sleep a day and will probably be taken in one go.
Pre-schoolers: From about the age of three, children will start sleeping for around 11-12 hours each night, but without an afternoon nap. However, if your child has a particularly busy day, don’t be surprised to find them having a little catnap to help them rejuvenate their energy.
For more information on sleep patterns and schedules, visit Jo’s website at www.jofrost.com