Of all the things new parents must learn to master, getting baby to sleep is by far one of the most elusive. While sleep deprivation and night-time disturbances are par for the course when it comes to newborn duty, there are ways to make the transition from wakefulness to sleepy-time a little smoother.
According to a study commissioned by Johnson & Johnson, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of parents surveyed perceived their children as having difficulties with regards to sleep. Consequently, the company has developed a 3-step bedtime routine to help with those nighttime problems – to an impressive success, with twice the number of mums reporting that their infants slept well after putting this routine in place. (There’s hope for us yet!)
Undoubtedly, the main reason mums and dads get so strung out about this whole sleep thing (apart from needing to catch up on their own zzz’s, of course), is that a good night’s sleep is essential for a child’s physical growth, as well as their cognitive, social and emotional development. According to Lisa Meltzer, Ph.D., the author of Paediatric Sleep Problems: A Clinician’s Guide to Behavioural Interventions, “Every baby has a few bad nights’ sleep here or there, but for those babies without consistent sleep routines and sufficient sleep duration on a regular basis, the cumulative impact of this sleep can play a significant role in their development.”
Having a consistent bedtime routine not only helps babies drift off to lalaland easier – and stay there longer – but it creates a more soothing environment for everyone. “When parents use a regular bedtime routine, they are more likely to have a set bedtime, and this consistent sleep schedule also helps babies fall asleep faster,” notes Meltzer. “The bedtime routine provides a special time for families, supporting close interactions, and helping the baby to fall asleep easier.”
Johnson & Johnson’s three-step bedtime routine, tested on more than 400 mums and infant/toddler pairs, is described by David Mays, director of global scientific engagement in scientific affairs, and Christina Lee, principal scientist, as one that “engages the senses and gives baby a better night’s sleep.”
Step one begins with a warm soak in the tub. Then, massage, which is proven to relax, strengthen bonding, and help little ones sleep better. Finally, quiet time, which offers the opportunity to help babs wind down with low-key activities such as reading, singing or listening to gentle music.
After just seven days of using this routine, babies reportedly fell asleep 37 percent faster, woke up 38 percent less frequently and spent 32 percent less time awake. The mothers participating in the study also stated that their babies stayed asleep up to one hour longer and woke up in a better mood.
The free download, available for Android and Apple users, includes a sleep log to keep track of baby’s sleep duration, a step-by-step video detailing the bedtime routine, access to sleep experts who can answer sleep-related questions, plus Johnson’s Tonight We Sleep Lullaby:
“These lullabies are underpinned by research on the sounds to which babies are most receptive,” notes Mays and Lee. “They have a simple 6/8-time signature to emulate a swaying, rocking motion. They also have a slow tempo based around 70 beats per minute to mimic the familiar beat of mom’s average resting heart rate, which has been shown to help soothe infants to sleep.”