Newborn Sleep & Settling FAQ

Are you experiencing difficulties with settling your newborn, or your baby is not sleeping well?  While new babies do mean less sleep than you are used to, there is no need to suffer stressful days and nights when there are many simple solutions to help you and your baby.

Most newborn sleep & settling problems are very common. These frequently asked questions & answers should give you a good idea of where to start.


In this article:

My baby hates being swaddled

My baby keeps escaping from his wrap - help!

My baby is very hard to settle

What are baby tired signs?

Should my baby have a routine?

Could my baby have colic?

My baby will only sleep when I hold her - what can I do?

My baby feeds to sleep, is this a bad habit?

My baby looks asleep, but wakes screaming 10 minutes later

My baby only sleeps for 20 minutes at a time

Where should my newborn sleep?


My baby hates being swaddled:

Lots of babies cry or wriggle while Mum or Dad are wrapping them. Often it's because your baby is already over-tired. We encourage you to persevere with swaddling, as it's the simplest way to help your baby settle quicker and sleep longer. Be confident that you know what's best for your baby!

Often using a more secure swaddle will stop your baby struggling against the wrapping, such as using a Miracle Blanket.  New babies show they are tired about an hour after waking - listen for grizzling, and read about tired signs below. 

More about swaddling >



My baby keeps escaping from his wrap - help!

It can seem hard to learn to swaddle effectively but our step by step swaddling instructions should help immediately.  These instructions are for the 'Down, Up, Down, Up' (DUDU) technique.

Swaddling often comes undone due to the wrap being too small. The majority of wraps sold in baby shops and department stores are far too small to be effective. We recommend 1m x 1m for newborn, and 1.2 x 1.2m for babies over 3 months.

You can also invest in a simple fitted wrap, such as a Miracle Blanket. These great wraps securely swaddle your baby without the baby origami.




What are baby tired signs?

These are the signs your baby shows that she is tired. This is your best indicator of when to put a newborn to bed, rather than sleeping at a set time.  

Tired signs include:

- Grizzling
- Jerky leg movements
- Wriggling
- Making fists
- A fixed stare
- Facial grimacing
- Looking away from you

More about baby tired signs >



My baby is very hard to settle. He screams for ages and I have to rock him to sleep for half an hour every time he is tired.

Chances are your baby is already over-tired when you are trying to put him down for a sleep.

Look for early tired signs, such as jerky legs and a glazed look. If he is rubbing his eyes or yawning, your baby is over-tired and needed to be in bed about 10 minutes ago. 

Generally, a newborn should be up for no more than an hour. That's an hour out of bed including feeding and changing, not an hour of play-time!

To ensure you can quickly settle your baby, we recommend you watch two DVDs - Sleepytime by Plunket will teach you to recognise your baby's tired signs. The Happiest Baby teaches you incredibly simple techniques to calm your baby's crying and go to sleep in minutes.

 Gently wean your baby off being rocked to sleep >


Should my baby have a routine? I don't like the idea of watching the clock!!!

Babies do not read a routine with set times for feeding and sleeping when they are little. But a relaxed structure to your day will mean you know what your baby needs and gives you much more confidence you are doing the right thing, at the right time.

For newborn babies, we recommend Feed, Awake, Sleep (also called Feed, Play, Sleep) as the best possible routine. This means you are watching for your baby to show you when she is tired, about an hour after waking. You feed her when she wakes, when she is rested and hungry.

More about Feed, Play, Sleep Routines >



My baby screams for hours...could she have colic?

Colic is often diagnosed without any discussion about if the baby is over-tired or what calming techniques have been tried.

There are lots of reasons a baby cries or screams, but the most common are:

Over-tired (see information on tired signs above)
Missing 'womb service'.


Your baby was very used to a particular environment in the womb (noisy, dappled light, squashed, jiggly, warm, wet) and the usual way of treating a newborn is pretty much the opposite of what they are used to (flat on back, quiet, still etc).  No wonder they protest in the only way they know how!

So before worrying about if your baby has colic, focus on learning to switch off your baby's crying. We recommend The Happiest Baby DVD for simple calming techniques using the 5 S's.

Read the Happiest Baby Techniques - The 5 S's >



My baby will only sleep if I am holding her - what can I do?

When a baby is brand new, it's natural for her to get tired so quickly she is bound to fall asleep on you. However, this can quickly get tiring for you, as you can't rest when she is sleeping. And it is also likely to lead to her catnapping as she gets older, as she is not learning to fall asleep by herself or sleep for a decent length of time in her cot.

There are a number of reasons babies fall asleep on mum or dad:

Your baby may be missing the feeling of being inside mum, and is most settled next to her. You could try wearing a sling or front-pack, so she sleeps for longer and you can move about if you need to. 

She is up for too long - look for early tired signs after about 30-45 minutes, and put her in her bassinet.

She falls asleep while feeding - this is fine while baby is newborn, but by 2 months we recommend always using the feed/play/sleep routine and putting baby into bed awake.

 More about Feed, Play, Sleep Routines >


My baby feeds to sleep - is this a bad habit to get into?

This is fine and really common while baby is newborn, as babies are awake for such a short time and it takes a long time to feed when you are learning to breastfeed.

However, by 2 months, we recommend you always use the feed/play/sleep routine and put your baby into bed awake. You can start by putting baby into bed drowsy or relaxed from feeding and using patting to help her fall off to sleep.

If you continue to feed your baby to sleep (with either breastfeeding or a bottle) this is likely to lead to your baby developing a sleep association with feeding. This means she thinks she needs to be feeding or sucking to fall asleep, and will also need this to resettle in the night. This is fine as long as you are happy feeding your baby to sleep every time she wakes in the night, but can get exhausting as the months go by!

The earlier you start to use feed/play/sleep the better, as your baby will learn quickly that she can fall asleep without feeding.

More about Feed, Play, Sleep Routines >



My baby looks to be asleep but wakes screaming 10 minutes later!

Chances are your baby has wind and needs to be burped. This can happen at bedtime and during the night, when your baby hasn't had her normal awake time and been upright long enough for any wind to come up.

Keep her swaddled, pick and burp over your shoulder. Then put her back into bed and pat or sssh to help her get back to sleep if needed.

After her next bedtime or night-time feed, try to ensure you get all possible burps up, even if you sit for a few extra minutes with her upright to allow wind to come up more easily.

If you are having this issue we recommend the Baby Whispering DVD which covers burping techniques really well.

More about Burping, Wind and Reflux in Newborns >



My baby only sleeps for 20 minutes at a time!

This is a basic sleep cycle for a newborn and is not nearly long enough for a sleep. This type of catnapping is exhausting for mum and also means your baby is not getting the rest she needs to grow, feed effectively and develop well.  Effective swaddling and playing white noise can help to reduce catnapping.

Read about catnapping solutions >



Where should my newborn sleep? 

Like lots of questions with babies, there are many opinions on this question! Some parents like their baby to sleep in their room while others prefer baby to sleep in a nursery from early one.

Here are some points for you to consider when deciding where your baby will sleep:

The Ministry of Health now recommends that having baby sleep in the parent's bedroom for the first 6 months will reduce the risk of SIDS.
If baby is sleeping in the parent's room, you can all disturb each others sleep.....babies can be very noisy with grunting, grizzling, snuffling etc.
A baby sleeping in their own bedroom will often 'sleep through the night' sooner than a baby sleeping in the parent's room. This is because mum and dad won't hear every little grizzle and baby will have more opportunity to learn to put themselves back to sleep.
However, in the first couple of months, all babies need to be fed at least once, if not more times, during the night. So if baby is in another room, that means more walking about the house to get baby.
We do not recommend co-sleeping (baby sleeping in the parent's bed), as there is an increased risk of SIDS for co-sleeping, particularly if you smoked in pregnancy, you are excessively tired (who isn't with a new baby!), either parent has been drinking or taking drugs.
Also, babies who co-sleep are often far slower to sleep through the night, as they are often very reliant on breastfeeding or parental help to resettle during the night. The longer babies co-sleep, the more the habits of needing parents help to resettle are formed.
It can work well to have baby in the parent's room for the first few months while baby needs night-feeds and the SIDS risk is highest, then move baby to their own room.
If baby is sleeping in the parent's room, we advise baby sleeps in their own bassinet or cot. You can have cuddles and feed in your bed, but put baby back to their own bed for sleeping.


Where your baby sleeps is a very personal decision and not one that we can advise you on! These are just some of the factors you may wish to take into consideration when making your decision.


Return to the Newborn sleep articles library





Mentioned Products:

White Miracle Blanket Help your baby sleep better with the 100% cotton knit Miracle Blanket...One size fits all babies, up to approx 4 months! With the Miracle Blanket it's easy to get the perfect swaddle every time, even in the dark!  Help your baby  sleep better, longer and be less fussy since your baby will finally get the sleep they (and you) so desperately need. The fabric is a super soft cotton knit 2-3 layers of T-shirt weight cotton, so a warmer option than many fitted swaddles.  You can also adapt the way the wrap is used to combine with a light sleeping bag or to reduce the layers. This is our most secure wrap so it is still the best option for Houdini babies who need very secure wrapping.   Available in a range of plain colours and cute designs, it's best to get two so when one is in the wash you have a second one handy! Fabric:  100% cotton, the fabric is the weight/style of a T-shirt Size: Approx 0-4 months Measures 55cm long from shoulder to feet, and can be used down to chest height Can also be used over a sleeping bag once your baby is too long for the foot pouch, see video below for more info Miracle Blanket over a Sleeping Bag: If your baby is in a Sleeping Bag and still likes to be swaddled, or has a strong startle reflex and needs firm swaddling, it's great to use a Miracle Blanket over the Sleeping Bag.  It can be used with one or both arms inside the wrap, and is excellent for gradually weaning baby off being wrapped, if your baby is too long for the Miracle Blanket pouch just leave their feet out.
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Miracle Blanket

MR290W603 Hushh Continuous White Noise Machine New product in blue packaging. Our best-selling white noise machine now comes as a portable sound machine! Enjoy a continuous white noise machine with the included rechargeable lithium battery.  Hushh is charged using a Micro USB cable, the same way as you charge a phone. Run continuously and turn off using the on/off button as required. There is no timer. We've tested it to run for at least 12 hours continuously on battery power, when played on medium volume and without the nightlight. For more info, see battery info below. Hushh never needs batteries, so there is none of the on-going cost you get with all other portable white noise machines, shushers or other sound boxes. And the continuous play means you can turn Hushh on at bedtime, and it will help calm and resettle your baby or child all through the night. No timers or need to reset, just lovely calming white noise all night. From Marpac, makers of the beloved Dohm-DS All-Natural White Noise Sound Machine, comes Hushh, a portable electronic sound machine designed to help baby fall asleep and stay asleep anywhere.  The Hushh cradles your baby in soothing sound to create a comforting, consistent sound environment for sleep.   This compact portable unit comes with 3 sound options: choose from bright white noise, deep white noise, or gentle surf and a wide volume range. Hushh is powered by a lithium ion battery and recharges from a micro-usb cord (included). Throughout night time or naptime, it masks disruptive noises to promote longer, more restful sleep cycles. *Please note if you have previously owned a Hushh, this newer version is quieter than previous models. Features: Continuous play. Soothing Sound - Cradles baby in a consistent, adjustable sound to promote restful sleep cycles.
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1L000W301 Standard Lights Out Blackout Blind - 2pk The Lights Out Black-Out Blind are super quick to put up and easy to use.  Ideal for rooms where there are no curtains or the curtains are too light for sleep! Versatile 2 pack. What size windows are these suitable for? The blinds each measure 1m x 1.2m. However please note they have rounded corners so you may have a small gap in each corner where the blind is curved if you are using with a 1m x 1.2m window.   We recommend using 2 blinds to overlap and sit the blind over the frame rather than inside the window frame.  The blinds also come with an accessory to use with deeper window frames. How do I get the suction cups to stick? There is one cup in the centre of the blind. Make sure window is clean and doesn't have residue from cleaning products. It will only stick to smooth glass. Tip from Louise - Lick your finger & very slightly moisten the suction cup to help it form a firm suction. What makes Lights Out Blinds unique? They take seconds to put up/take down (see demonstration video). Each pack contains two blinds, offering positioning flexibility. They can be attached to open windows, allowing in the breeze on hot summer nights. They can work on recessed windows. Unique design means no fiddly size adjustments are necessary (read more). They are not window specific, so can be moved from room to room. Simple attachment with one sucker applied to the centre of the window. No need to reach to the top. They are a cheaper, multipurpose a
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Lights Out

TH150S010 The Happiest Baby DVD & CD Pack ’What every mother needs are simple tools that really work, and Harvey’s do" Michelle Pfeiffer ’I found ’The Happiest Baby’ so incredible, it provided the inspiration to launch The Sleep Store" Louise Tanguay New Dr Karp value pack - contains Happiest Baby DVD & Soothing Sounds White Noise CD. Pack contains: 1 x The Happiest Baby DVD 1 x Super Soothing Sounds White Noise CD This is the most valuable purchase you can possibly make if you are expecting, or have just had, a new baby. It also makes a fantastic gift for new parents, as you are giving them the gift of a sleeping baby! The Happiest Baby DVD Watch this incredible DVD and learn these amazing skills: Calm your newborn baby crying in seconds Help your baby nap longer and sleep through the night earlier. Control colic symptoms including ’uncontrollable’ crying in the late afternoon. The most effective swaddling technique ever - your baby will sleep at least an extra hour or two per sleep. Dr Harvey Karp teaches you the 5S’s - Swaddling, Swinging, Side/Stomach, Sssshhing and Sucking. Individually the 5S’s are great for calming crying and improving newborn sleep. Together they make ’The Cuddle Cure - the instant way to stop even the msot difficult baby’s crying! The DVD is an easy way to learn these simple but amazing techniques. It’s great way for both new parents to become confident calming their baby and ensure they can both easily settle baby down to sleep. Dr Karp, a practising pediatrician and child specialist for over twenty-five years, has developed a unique and revolutionary program. This
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The Happiest Baby

1.0 tog Swaddle Up Original - Grey Marl "I just wanted to say a huge thank you for sending the wrap me up so quickly, it arrived early this afternoon and Liam is fast asleep in it and loving it as always. These wraps are just amazing, thanks for bringing them to us!" Emma Love to Swaddle Up is the original and world’s first baby swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their arms up.  It was previously called the 'Wrap Me Up'. When swaddling, Love to Swaddle Up means your baby still has access to their hands. This can be a great solution for babies who ’hate being swaddled’ or for parents who prefer their baby to have their arms up. If your baby wants to suck her hands but still has a startle reflex, then Love to Swaddle Up can help keep her hands in the right place for self soothing.  Most importantly Love to Swaddle Up ensures your baby stays wrapped all night long! Love to Swaddle Up is useful for babies as you are weaning them off swaddling too, as they get used to having more movement and access to their hands.  Ideal for catnappers who aren’t wrapped at night - many older babies sleep much longer in the day if they are wrapped, and this gives you the benefits of wrapping without restricting older babies movement. Super fast and easy to use. Fabric: 93% cotton + 7% elastane Size Information: Newborn:  2.2 - 3.8kg / Wrap measures 55cm - (from back of the neck down) Small:  3.2 - 6kg / Wrap measures 58cm - (from back of the neck down)  Medium:  6 - 8.5kg / Wrap measures 67cm - (from back of the neck down) Large:  8.5 - 11kg / Wrap measures 75cm - (from back of the neck down)
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Love to Dream