Step-by-step settling your baby to sleep

sleep baby stock sl sleeping newborn
Babies benefit from predictability in their bed time routine, and one of the ways to achieve this is to use the same steps every time you put them down for sleep. They’ll still have days when they don’t want to go down, when they’d rather be up keeping you company – but using the same basic routine helps tired babies (and parents on autopilot!) know what’s coming.

We’ve teamed up with Children’s Panadol to provide you with lots of quick and helpful information covering many aspects of children’s health and development. We hope you’ll find them a great resource as you take care of your family every day.

Steps for settling your baby to sleep

  1. When your baby signals that they are tired, cuddle them against you and talk softly and soothingly, or quietly hum or sing.
  2. Take them to the room where they sleep, away from the household activities.
  3. Create the environment that signals to baby that it’s bedtime (for instance, close the blinds or curtains, put on some soft music).
  4. Wrap them, or dress them in a baby swaddle, and cuddle them against you until they’re calm.
  5. Place baby on their back in their bassinet or cot, on a firm mattress, as recommended by SIDS and Kids.
  6. Gently pat or rock your baby briefly to settle them and then leave while they are still awake but calm.
  7. If your baby whimpers, wait a minute or so to see if they can settle on their own.
  8. If they continue to cry, or become distressed, return and try to comfort and settle them in the cot.
  9. If this does not work, pick them up and calm them in your arms by holding them close and gently swaying, but do not leave the room. Once they are calm, put them back into the cot. Place your hand gently on their chest for 30 seconds to reassure them then, if they are still calm, leave the room.

What if my baby keeps crying?

It’s so disheartening when you can’t get your baby to stop crying, but it happens to the best of us. Here are some more things you could check.


Did they have all their usual feed? If you are breastfeeding and it was only a short feed, maybe they need a top up. If top ups are needed often, try to encourage your baby to have a good feed at feed time so they can sleep well afterwards.

Dirty nappy

Maybe your baby has become unsettled by a tummy ache, which has led to a dirty nappy.


Does your baby need another burp?

Common problems

Unsettled every afternoon?

This can be normal behaviour for some babies. It helps to set up a regular afternoon routine. For example, every afternoon give your baby a warm, deep relaxation bath or take them in the pram for a walk before the unsettled period starts.

What if my baby wakes after 30 or 40 minutes?

After about 40 minutes, your baby’s sleep cycle changes. This is often the time they stir and are easily woken or disturbed. If they stir, just listen and see if they resettle. If they are whimpering a little, but don’t seem distressed, wait and listen a bit longer. If they’re awake, distressed and crying, go in to reassure and calm baby, then resettle, using your usual technique.

This is an excerpt from The First Five Years, which is a handy and easy to navigate book, specifically developed to help parents. It contains a comprehensive collection of practical parenting information and useful tips for your child’s first five years. If you’ve ever wanted a quick guide to refer to in the middle of the night, or to help you decide when it’s time to see a doctor, this is a resource which will help you on your way. You can view it online or download it for free at The First Five Years.

(This is a sponsored post for Children’s Panadol)

Subscribe to Babyology

Our email newsletters keep you up to date with what’s happening on Babyology.

We also have special newsletter-only offers and competitions that are exclusive to Babyology subscribers.

Sign up below:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Send this to a friend