Dad knowledge

Will fresh air help my baby sleep?

In my experience, the simple answer to this question is yes! Although it certainly doesn’t work every time…

Before we had a baby, I used to look on with pity at exhausted, harassed parents pushing their kids around the streets in prams at all hours of the day and night, clearly desperate for the crying to stop and the sleep to start. But predictably, I joined them within the first 48 hours of Sonny’s life.

For us, the fun usually starts around 7pm, when I’ve just got home from work, walked the dog and settled down with Sonny’s mum to eat dinner. We call this the ‘witching hour’, when Sonny morphs from a happy, cuddly baby into some sort of demon. No amount of singing, dancing, cuddling or playing seems to help when he gets himself worked up, so more often that not I find myself heading out of the door with the baby in an attempt to diffuse the situation. And more often than not it seems to work!

It must be something to do with the change of temperature, sounds, sights and smells; but just simply walking outside seems to calm Sonny down straight away. Luckily for us he was born in April, right at the start of spring with plenty of long nights and calm temperatures, so we usually don’t need to bundle him up either. Even if he doesn’t fall asleep straight away he seems to settle quickly and stop crying, meaning that when we get back inside he’s in a far calmer state and ready to start his night-time routine.

These are the techniques I find work best…

In my arms

The quickest and simplest, and usually just a case of strolling around the garden. Sonny loves listening to the birds, staring at the trees and generally just gawping at the sky. It usually takes around 10 laps for him to fall asleep, but it’s worth every step.

In his pram

As simple as placing him down, tucking a blanket onto him and pounding the pavements. I don’t know if every baby is the same, but Sonny loves travelling over rough ground. The bumpier the pavement, the quicker his little eyes start drooping. It won’t always guarantee sleep, but it usually calms him down straight away.      

In his baby carrier

Easily my favourite piece of kit. The Mountain Buggy Juno carrier is about as guaranteed a way to put a baby to sleep as I could ever imagine. The second I strap Sonny into it and start walking, he seems to go straight to sleep. Something about the way he’s tucked up against my chest, feet and arms squashed up into a little ball, seems to mirror the time he spent in his mum’s womb. I’ve been out walking with him strapped to my chest for over 2 hours without hearing a peep out of him. The tricky thing is getting him out of it without waking him up!

In his sling

I don’t love the sling. I find it a massive fiddle to put on and the lack of support on the hips means it hurts my back – but Sonny does like it. He seems to prefer the security and stability of his baby carrier, but he still settles quite quickly in the sling and often nods off straight away. The problem for me is I don’t find it comfortable, so a stroll round the garden is often the limit if its range.

In the car

He loves the car! Again, this is far more of a hassle than simply walking out of the front door; but once he’s securely in his car seat and we’ve driven out of the end of our street, I can usually hear the snores straight away. In fact, as early as 9 weeks old he slept through an entire 3-hour car journey from Liverpool to Cambridgeshire. This isn’t a tactic I employ too often because I don’t want him to start relying on it, but it usually gets instant results.


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