The Essentials of Sleep Routines and Settling

The Essentials of Sleep Routines and Settling

The Essentials of Sleep Routines and Settling

Tooshies: Dressing baby: swaddle or sleeping bag?

Dr Golly:

I’m such a fan of swaddling and when you need to move to them sleep bags. 

There’s an entire chapter dedicated to swaddling in my Newborn and Little Baby Sleep Programs

The key is to finding the swaddle style that works for your baby - which often fall into two categories

  1. more traditional swaddle with their arms down or
  2. with their arms up (often called the angel wrap)

Someone needs to write a PhD on this …but anecdotally if you look at your ultrasound images, if your baby always has their hands across their body in the images they’ll probably prefer the traditional arms down - conversely if their arms are up they may be more likely to enjoy an angel style wrap.

Just remember these 2 safety tips:

  1. tight around the arms loose around the hip
  2. as soon as your baby starts to roll it’s time to unswaddle them and move to a sleeping bag due to the SIDS risk of getting stuck on their stomach and not being able to roll back


Tooshies: How to know if they are under or overdressed?

Dr Golly:

You learn so many things as a new parent, learning what a TOG (Thermal Overall Grade) is is one!

These are most helpful as your baby cannot regulate their temperature like adults.

TOGS range from 0.2 – 3.5 with the higher number being thicker and warmer.

A 0.2 TOG rated garment would be appropriate for summer whereas a 2.5-3.5 TOG garment is better for cooler temperatures.

Most baby swaddles and sleep suits will come with a TOG guide and it is always important to dress your baby appropriately and ensure they are not too cold or too hot.

Being too cold is one of the key reasons for early morning and overnight waking.  Ideally you can get the room to a comfortable 22 degrees but if not you need to make sure your baby has adequate warmth.  If you need to use a blanket to create extra warmth always remember safe sleeping guidelines.

All the Dr Golly Baby and Toddler Sleep Programs include temperature charts for appropriate TOG dressing for the temperature of the room.


Tooshies: Top tips for the correct Baby Sleep environment?

Dr Golly:

If you’re enrolled in the Dr Golly Sleep Program you’ll know how much I prioritise room environment when it comes to sleep and  settling.

Before a baby arrives, many parents’ idea of a perfect nursery is a whimsical place with gorgeous natural light, a bassinet with cute teddies and blankets, a mobile hanging overhead and a rocking chair in the corner for feeding. Social media awaits!

You quickly learn that a dungeon-like atmosphere is actually the best for baby sleep & most of the cute stuff is a SIDS risk!

When trying to pick a room in the house, the quietest and darkest room is ideal and temperature regulation (hot and cold) is also highly preferable.

My top 4 tips are:

  1. Safety - follow all the important SIDS/Red Nose guidelines
  2. Darkness
  3. Correct temperature/TOG appropriate outfits (covered above)
  4. White noise


Tooshies: White noise, won’t my baby get addicted to it?

Dr Golly:

As you’ve seen above white noise is one of my number 1 sleep tips! And you’ve hit the nail on the head - one of the number 1 questions I get when it comes to white noise is won’t my baby get addicted to it!

The short answer is YES.

BUT the next bit of that sentence is…. it doesn’t really matter.

White noise:

  • Is cheap
  • Is portable
  • Will become a really positive sleep association

When you want to stop using it it’s very easy to wean your baby off it quickly.


Tooshies: What does a healthy baby bedtime routine look like?

Dr Golly:

Babies (and kids) love routine and predictability.

Bedtime routines can be incredibly simple and my number 1 tip is a bath.  It’s ok to bath your baby every couple of days at home, every day is not necessary in the newborn period.

BUT… once you’re trying to establish a rhythm, a bath can become a lovely part of an evening wind-down routine,  providing benefits to both you and your baby If you do this same routine regularly your baby will learn to anticipate bedtime and it can become a positive step in helping your baby settle for the night.

Baths should be calming and relaxing, and avoided when your baby is overtired or too hungry.  So always make sure you don’t stretch them out too much just to fit in a bath.

After your baby’s bath, a couple of lullabies and a feed and cuddle is all you need to complete a simple yet effective wind down routine for your baby in the evening.


Tooshies: Settling a crying baby - what are your suggestions to calm a crying baby?

Dr Golly:

I’ve written an entire baby sleep and settling program on this topic! But here’s my quick overview….

My number one tip to calming a crying baby is to be relaxed as humanly possible (easier said than done when you have a screaming baby in your arms but doesn't make it any less important).

If you are not calm and relaxed yourself, it’s near impossible to calm someone else.

Babies are excellent communicators if you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know one of most common lines is  – babies drink much more than milk.

They drink your warmth, your love, your connectedness.

BUT they also drink your anxiety, your worry, your stress and your fear.

When in doubt take a big breath in, relax your shoulders and wriggle your bum, remember there’s no better parent for your baby than you!

Once you’re calm the next step is to calming a baby can be summed up with concept of  ‘return them to the womb’:

  1. The shushing or white noise is what it sounds like when you hear things underwater
  2. Gentle movement is what occurs when a baby is floating in the womb
  3. Patting is a lovely reminder of a mother’s aorta beating against their back
  4. Swaddling makes them feel enveloped and hugged tight. 

As always calming them in the moment is one thing, if you have a highly unsettled baby that cries frequently we need to work out what is driving the unsettled behavior see my baby sleep programs for more information on this.




Dr Daniel Golshevsky AKA Dr Golly is a Melbourne-based paediatrician, Red Nose National Ambassador and father of three who has specialised in helping unsettled babies and poor sleep for over a decade. He has developed an online Sleep and Settling Program which has quickly become the essential guide for thousands of families across the globe.  Use code TOOSHIES20 to receive $20 off any of his signature sleep and settling programs, expires 31/12/23.