A few nights of exhaustion is worth a lifetime of peaceful nights. Here's a few things that helped our babies become sound sleepers...
1. Problem: Baby not sleeping in Moses Basket.
Tip: Why not try the Sleepyhead or Cocoon-a-baby - large sleep cushions designed for comfort and support from birth until 8 months (Sleepyhead) or 4 months (Cocoon-a-baby). You can put them in a cot at night or just on the floor or sofa during the day. They are quite pricey but we think peaceful nights are priceless. Buy here.
2. Problem: Baby is developing a flat head. Since we have been advised to lay our little ones on their backs to sleep, flat head syndrome has become a problem for some babies. This usually corrects itself by the age of one when your baby is spending less time on their back, though it's a good idea to prevent it as much as you can.
Tip: From birth, try and encourage your baby to alternate which way they face when sleeping. You can turn the Moses basket around so you are on a different side to them each night (they are likely to look at you) or attach black and white cards to alternate sides of the Moses basket. There are also some pillows on the market which help discourage and correct flat head syndrome. (R has tried most of them and recommends the Mimos baby pillow or the Babymoov lovenest if you're on a budget. They are both made of breathable fabric and should be used every time your baby is on their back (changing, playing, napping, sleeping). Tummy time should be encouraged as early as possible to strengthen your baby's neck so that they can play on their front as soon as they are strong enough.
3. Problem: Baby won't nap in their cot.
Tip: If you want to establish a daytime napping routine, this can take some work. We found that when we put our babies in their cots, not matter how tired they were, they would scream and scream and scream, which isn't fun or productive for anyone involved. We literally had to train our babies to nap during the day with the following methods...
a. Put your baby in a sleeping bag that they normally sleep in at night, close the blinds/curtains to let them know it's nap time. Make sure they are not crying when you put them down in their cot. Put them down and leave the room.
b. Leave them for 5 minutes. If they are still crying, go in and pick them up, say something soothing like 'It's ok, Mummy's here' and as soon as they are calm put them back down. Walk out of the room. (Start with 1 minute if 5 is too hard, and then increase the time in between each pick-up).
c. Repeat step b until they eventually go to sleep and always say the same thing to them when you pick them up. The first time you try this it could take 50 times of going in, but if they are tired, they will sleep eventually! And you can increase the time you leave them to cry slightly each day so they get the idea that they need to soothe themselves to sleep. This worked for us so we really hope it works for you and your baby too :)
4. Problem: Baby is too congested to sleep.
Tip: This is upsetting and can lead to sleepless nights for everyone. We found that Calpol Vaporiser plug-ins helped clear the airways, and they contain Camomile which makes baby sleepy too. A little bit of Snufflebabe Vapour Rub on their chest before bed is good too, and saline drops down their nose can get rid of a bit of snot (though very tricky to administer to older, wriggly babies!). A few drops of Olbas Oil in a bowl of water or on a tissue is an alternative to the vapour rub. Propping the cot up at a slight angle can also help so they are not lying flat. If they are feeling poorly, they may sleep better on you - we admit we did spend a few nap times allowing our babies to fall asleep on us and we loved it too :)
5. Problem: Baby is standing up in their cot but can't get back down again.
Tip: We are still working on this one! Tips welcome! R's baby stands up at every opportunity but ends up falling down and hitting his head as he can't lower himself down safely yet. She resorted to getting the travel cot down from the loft (which has soft sides unlike his cot) until she was happy he could get down on his own, so she could leave him to sleep.