Research has shown that a young baby can start to distinguish between night and day from as young as two weeks with a little gentle guidance. Here are six simple strategies that work.

1 – In the day, keep the house light and bright. Take your baby out for walks in the fresh air. Even if he’s sleeping, he will be stimulated by the light and feel of the air against his skin.

2 – When your baby is awake (for a very short time in the early weeks) interact with him, talk to him, stroke his skin and place your face near his so he can see you. At this age, there’s no need for any stimulation other than being close to his family. Just being held is stimulating for an infant.

3 – Night time should be dark and quiet. Use a night light when feeding your baby and don’t engage with him too much. A cuddle and feed and straight back to bed will set him up for healthy sleeping habits in the next few months. Only change his nappy if you really need to and keep your voice low.

4 – Introduce sleep cues through short routines so that your baby knows it’s time to sleep. In the early days, this won’t mean much to your baby. But after a few months, he will understand that you are following the ‘pre-sleep’ routine and this will help him to settle easily.

A simple pre-bedtime routine might be a bath or wash, a sleepsuit, sleeping bag, cuddle, feed and bed. For nap time, a little face wash, nappy change, sleeping bag and feed will let your baby know he’s going for a sleep.

5 – Sleep props help your baby know it’s sleep time. The sound of the sea or a heartbeat works because the rhythmical sound is familiar after the sound of the womb. Total silence can be alarming for babies.
A baby comforter that you can take everywhere with you and bring out at sleep time is also a fantastic sleep cue. Hold it close to you before and after your baby is born so that it smells of you. Try one that you can attach to the cot so it’s close to your baby in the early months, but safely out of the way.

Later, you can detach it and give to him for cuddles. And when you feel it is safe, you can leave it with him at sleep times too. Baby comforters have been proven to help babies sleep through the night from an early age.

A sleeping bag also helps if you use it for every sleep time. It’s snug, warm and safe and can become an essential part of your baby’s sleep routine.

6 – Create a place for sleep. In the first few weeks your baby will probably fall asleep anywhere and everywhere. He will feel most safe when with you and probably enjoy sleeping snuggled up against your skin.

But you should decide on where you want him to sleep at night and during the day as early as possible and start putting him down to sleep there so that it becomes a familiar, safe place for him. It doesn’t have to be every sleep time at first. But gradually get him used to falling asleep in the same place every night and nap time.

It’s easier for everyone if you set up good habits from the start than it is to correct them later.

Author's Bio: 

Lucy Fitzgerald, mum to two boys under the age of 5, writes for international parenting sites and has her own column in the North Devon Journal, writing on everyday parenting issues. She specialises in helping babies and toddlers learn to sleep through the night and runs http://www.sleepytot.com.

Visit http://www.sleepytot.com for tons of free resources to help your baby sleep through the night as well as a free baby sleep guide which you can download today!