Quick Tips: Getting children to sleep

Cat Prestipino
1min read

Newborn babies need to learn to sleep when it’s dark. They also need to feed and be changed regularly, which wakes them up constantly throughout the night. But from three months onwards, these cycles become longer and they start to learn night means sleep.

Mary Papas offers some quick tips on getting little ones off to sleep.


“Newborn babies are my favourite!” said Mary, who is a big believer in the fourth trimester. To cope with this time, Mary recommends replicating the womb as much as possible.

Her top tips for getting newborns to sleep are:

  • Swaddling; you want to keep them in a warm cocoon like environment
  • Use a dummy
  • Use constant feeding

“Make their life as much like the womb as you can.”

Toddlers and Older Children

This is where it gets tricky because you can run into issues with sleep association. Sleep association is where they associate certain actions with getting to sleep like having you rock them or pat them back to sleep. This can be a problem as it means when they wake up at the end of their sleep cycle, they won’t be able to resettle themselves and fall back to sleep without you.

Mary’s top tips for toddler are:

  • Be careful not to feed to sleep. If you’re still breastfeeding, they’ll need to feed in order to put themselves back to sleep
  • Establish a calm bedtime routine including bath time and a set number of stories. Try to avoid anything too active or any blue light (like TVs or iPads)
  • You can be gentle to start with, just calmly and quietly leading them back to bed

The idea is that you’re trying to give your child independence to get themselves to sleep and to fall back to sleep if they wake in the night. This is an important life skill that they need to learn and you’re not doing them any favours by letting them use you to sleep.