Periodically a child will need to sleep with its parents. It's reassuring to feel the warmth and hear their mummy or daddy's heartbeat. It also makes it easier for the person breastfeeding or feeding the child, and it is simpler and warmer to stay in bed.
Sleep nearby and safe
The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare does not recommend sleeping in the same bed for the same reason, but instead recommends that the little baby sleeps in its own bed for the first three months, but close to its parents. A lot of parents resolve the issue by having a cot that is attached along the edge of the mother's side. With the cot bars removed and the mattresses at the same level it can work nicely, like a sidecar, in the beginning. That way, mother and baby are close to each other, which also makes night-time breastfeeding easier.
Advice and suggestions on putting babies and toddlers to bed:
• Your child should sleep on their back until they can turn themselves over.
• Try to have a long enough bedtime ritual that your child feels comfortable with.
• Remember that going to bed and going to sleep is supposed to be fun and feel good.
• Make sure your child is dressed warmly enough and can move about in bed freely.
• A lot of children can sleep soundly outdoors, but keep a good eye on your child and make sure their pram isn't in the sun.
• The better your child sleeps during the day, the better they will sleep at night. There is no reason to limit a little baby's sleep during the day, in the belief that it will improve their night-time sleep.
• Teach your child the difference between night and day, by paying them less attention at night. Talk quietly, use subdued lighting and make the night feed as short as possible.
• If your child has a very irregular sleep pattern or sleeps restlessly after the first few months, you can get help from your paediatric nurse.
Set the scene for a good night's sleep for your child
• Babies need a small, cosy, snug place to sleep, which reminds them of their life in the womb.
• If your child is going to sleep in the pram, you can hang a lightweight fabric or mosquito net over the opening, to shut out all of the exciting things going on, so it's easier for the child to sleep. Remove it once your child is asleep, so it doesn't get too hot in the pram. Note! Never park your pram in direct sunlight. And if you hang a fabric across the opening too, it can get dangerously hot.
• Show the child, with your voice and body language, that it's time to sleep. Be calm yourself, it gives your child a feeling of security and helps them to settle.
• After a day of activities, it's important that you give your child a moment of peace and quiet before bedtime, for them to unwind. Babies and infants need to be allowed to relax so they can then fall asleep easier.
• End each day with the same routines - a bath, teeth brushing once the child is older, putting on pyjamas, a bedtime story or lullaby and then goodnight. You can of course break these routines occasionally, but most young children like routines.
• We all sleep better when it's dark. Make a habit of switching all the lights off, except perhaps a nightlight, when it's time for your child to sleep.
• Right at the beginning struggling with pyjamas might feel a bit over the top. But it helps your child to understand the difference between napping during the day and going to sleep at night.
• Always talk about the bedroom and sleeping like it's a comfy, cosy thing to do.
• Put your child in the same bed every night. Children prefer to sleep in familiar surroundings.
• Make sure you retain as many of the child's routines as possible and bring their pyjamas, blanket and cuddly toy with you, if you're going somewhere else for dinner or spending the night away. It creates a feeling of security for the child when things are familiar.
• A lot of young children like having a comfort blanket. It might also be a good idea to give your child a cuddly toy or a soft picture book they can keep in their bed.
More about sleep
When your child is in harmony and sleeping well, it's good for everyone. Here are some more tips and advice.
Putting your baby to bed
Comforting your baby
Better sleep for your baby
Create routines for your baby
Helping your baby to sleep soundly
Baby's sleep, 3–6 months
Baby's sleep, 6–8 months