Your baby and sleep

Every baby is different and will behave differently. Here are some things to keep in mind when managing your baby’s sleep.

Some babies need more sleep than others. Some sleep better where it is very quiet, while others settle best with ordinary household sounds. Some prefer being wrapped and others like their arms loose.

Setting a routine

Most babies will need two to three sleeps a day of up to two hours each, and will wake during the night as part of their normal sleep cycle.

A routine will help your baby learn when it is bedtime and settle, for example:

  1. Dinner and a bath.
  2. Short playtime.
  3. Swaddle time.
  4. The last feed of the day.
  5. Nappy change.
  6. Quiet story time together in the bedroom.
  7. Sing a soft song as you put them in the cot.
  8. Kiss and say goodnight and turn off the lights or turn on a night-light.

Help your baby learn to go to sleep independently by putting them to bed sleepy but still awake. If they learn to go to sleep without you, they are more likely to drop off again after waking during the night.

It can be difficult to start a routine. An Early Years Sleep Study recommends R-E-S-T to help parents understand how to cater to their child’s specific sleep needs.

Safe sleep

Minimise the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleep accidents by:

  • having your baby in a cot in your room for the first six to twelve months
  • keeping your baby free from smoke, both before and after birth
  • placing your baby on their back to sleep and leaving their head uncovered
  • making the bed so your baby’s feet reach the bottom of the cot to prevent their head from sliding under the covers
  • using a firm and well-fitting mattress and removing bumpers, soft toys and doonas from the cot
  • using only light bedding to avoid overheating
  • avoiding using pillows because they are not necessary for babies
  • checking that pets cannot get into baby’s room
  • placing the cot away from things they might play with and get tangled in, such as heaters, power points, lights, hanging mobiles and curtain cords.

Learn more about safe sleeping on the Red Nose website.

Published — 16 September 2016 Last updated — 21 February 2019

Want personalised tips and activities?

Complete these short questions to get personalised tips and activities to see how simple and easy it can be.

Get started
01 / 05

What is your relationship with the child?


What best describes your location?


If you had a spare moment, what would you most likely do with the child?


And finally…

Do you speak another language at home apart from English?
Are you of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander descent?
Does the child need additional support with their development or learning?
Now we know a little more about the content that might interest you we’ve compiled it into a handy page for you.