September 14, 2016 Mary & Suzanne

The Sleep and Babies Series: Part 1

Sleep and Babies

Contrary to how new parents feel, YES, you can have both! The sleep / baby conundrum is one of the hottest topics for parents of young babies. Getting babies to sleep, helping them stay asleep, establishing bedtime routines and learning how to cope with disrupted sleep are all HUGE issues for parents of young children. Sleep deprivation and attempting all of the strategies in that pile of books on your nightstand can really put your mind in a tangle, can’t it?

As pediatric occupational therapists, we are big fans of sensory strategies as tools for parents.  Gaining an understanding of the type of baby that you have will be a productive step in learning specific strategies to promote better sleep patterns, for all of you! 

In our Sleep and Babies Series, we will dabble in some of these key things that your baby would love for you to know about sleep:

Common Strategies for Helping Baby Sleep

To kick things off and give you some ideas immediately, we want to share some of the strategies that can be incredibly useful in helping babies go to sleep, stay asleep and return to sleep when they are awakened. (You know what this means? You might get sleep too!)

Some of the most common solutions:

  • Swaddling and firm pressure
  • Slow swinging and rocking
  • Pacifier
  • White noise (fans or background nature sounds)
  • A consistent bedtime routine

Swaddling is a great sensory tool for parents because it is calming and organizing for a baby. This research study supports the benefits of swaddling infants, and you can click below to see the article.


Parents are ultimately the best judges of how sleep approaches will work for the entire family. In our Sleep and Babies Series, we hope to provide you with sensory-based information so that you are able to make choices that fit your family best.


In case you needed anther reason to breastfeed your baby, we found a research study concluding that nighttime breast milk contains compounds that help babies sleep longer.

“Exclusive breastfeeding is associated with reduced irritability/colic and a tendency toward longer nocturnal sleep. Breast milk (nocturnal) consists of substantial melatonin levels, whereas artificial formulas do not” (Engler, 2012).



Engler, A. C., Hadash, A., Shehadeh, N., Pillar, G. (2012). Breastfeeding may improve nocturnal sleep and reduce infant colic: Potential role of breast milk melatonin. European Journal of Pediatrics, 171 (4), pp. 729-732. 

Sanchez, C., Cubero, J., Sanchez, J., Chanclon, B., Rivero, M., Rodriguez, A., Barriga, A. (2009). The possible role of human milk nucleotides as sleep inducers. Nutritional Neuroscience, 12(1), pp. 2-8. 

Staples, A., Bates, J., Petersen, I. ( 2015). Bedtime routines in early childhood: Prevalence, consistency, and associations with nighttime sleep. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, vol. 80, issue 1, pp.141-159. March 2015



Comment (1)

  1. John Greenwood

    These are such wonderful articles that I have been reading in Passport to Functions site. Though my children are grown and healthy I find it interesting reading.
    Keep up the great work.

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