Night-time needs of babies

A newborn baby can sleep anywhere and is unlikely to be disturbed by household noises. Many parents find their baby sleeps better in the family room. Initially he can sleep in a carrycot, moved round the house as necessary; it can be placed by the parents’s bed at night so that night feeds cause less disruption. Some parents choose not to do this, preferring the baby to get used to having his own room from an early age. Others like their baby sleeping next to the mother for ease of breast-feeding and for comfort. Later, the baby will outgrow the carrycot and will need a cot with bars.

In the second half of his first year he will be more easily disturbed by noise, so it may be a good idea for him to have his own room then. Some babies of this age start having sleeping problems: they may scream when put to bed, or wake up several times in the night. These difficulties can usually be overcome by making bedtime more enjoyable, perhaps by providing a warm drink or special toy. If the baby seems seriously upset, the parents may decide to take him into their bed; this may be a good solution because it will reasure him. However, some babies are noisy and fidgety sleepers, which may prevent their parents from getting a good night’s rest. Also, the habit of sleeping in the parents’ bed may be extremely difficult to break later. It is probably better first to find out if he can be encouraged to settle on his own.