Teaching your baby to sleep through the night

Tresillian trained nurse Debbie MacRae will offer advice about getting and keeping your babies asleep at the Childbirth and Parenting Education Association s education session. Photo Anthea Gleeson / The Chronicle
Tresillian trained nurse Debbie MacRae Anthea Gleeson

IT IS a question that has plagued parents since Moses was a babe in a basket among the reeds.

How do you get a baby to sleep, and most importantly, remain asleep?

"From the very beginning, if a baby is fed well and is comfortable then they should sleep well, excluding any medical issues," Tresillian trained nurse Debbie MacRae said.

Tresillian Family Care Centres offers expert parenting advice to families during the early years.

"Mums all have fairly similar questions about getting their children to sleep," Ms MacRae said.

Look and listen to your baby. Hear their cries and watch their behaviours right from birth

"Sleeping is a learnt skilled and is not that hard to learn."

However, Ms MacRae said modern-day parents suffered "information overload", sourcing tips from books and the internet.

"In some ways, mums forget to look at their babies and what their babies are doing," she said.

"Look and listen to your baby. Hear their cries and watch their behaviours right from birth."

Some cries she believes actually mean "put me down to sleep".

Whereas, in older children, naughty behaviour can be attributed to lack of sleep.

Research led by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute recently revealed that kids' sleeping problems were costing taxpayers $27 million in extra doctors' visits and sleep clinics.

"Sleep problems in infants and children account for substantial primary healthcare costs to the public purse," the study said.

Ms MacRae will speak at the Childbirth and Parenting Education Association's coffee morning today from 10am at the Jacaranda Room, Grand Central. Free for members; $2 for non-members.

How much sleep is enough?

  • Babies 15 hours (including daytime naps)
  • Toddlers up to 14 hours
  • Preschoolers 12 to 13 hours
  • Primary school kids 10 to 11 hours
  • Source: Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Sleep tips

  • Set a bedtime routine and stick to it. Bedtime stories help kids wind down.
  • Set strict bedtimes.
  • Limit TV, internet and electronic games for a couple of hours before bed.
  • Don't give the kids caffeine.
  • Teach your child to fall asleep without your presence.