Tips For How To Get Baby To Sleep
As baby grows and becomes more aware of their surroundings, its easy for them to cross that line between cautiously curious and decidedly overstimulated. In the first months of life, an infants social, emotional and intellectual skills are slowly maturing, says James McKenna, PhD, a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory. During these critical developmental years, new daily experiences can cause baby to construct new things to worry about, to be aware of, to think about and to be afraid of.
In other words, just like for Mom , babys daytime stressors can impact nighttime sleep. And that means baby craves the comfort only you can provide. So what can you do to help baby get some ZZZs? Here are some guidelines for how to get baby to sleep easier.
When Newborns Sleep The Night
Many factors come into figuring out when your baby will be ready to sleep through the night. Whether they are bottle-fed or breastfed, the kind of sleeper youve chosen, your babys temperament and personality, will all play a factor.
Every baby is different some will start sleeping longer earlier, whereas others take their sweet time. Any mother with multiple children can probably confirm this, as sleep patterns even vary between siblings!
However, dont be too discouraged. By six months, most babies will be sleeping for long stretches during the night. Having a bedtime routine can help speed this process up .
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Tip : Do What Works
Help can come in many forms. Perhaps its your partner taking some night shifts, a family member or friend coming over during the day so you can get some long hours of uninterrupted sleep, or it could be using a sleep aid- like a white noise machine, swing, pacifier, etc. Moms might be wary to try any of these with fears of developing sleep associations or becoming dependent upon those aids. But lets get real: sleep is a priority. If you can avoid using a sleep aid with your baby, thats great! But these products exist for a reason, so dont beat yourself up for using them. If it works, let it.
Even lead sleep coach and President of The Baby Sleep Site, Nicole Johnson, says in the first six to eight weeks, you do what you have to do:
FROM THE EXPERTS
In an ideal world, we wouldnt use sleep crutches but every stage a baby goes through a parent needs to use different tools from their toolbox, whether its a swaddle, white noise machine, swing , a pacifier, etc. That doesnt mean your baby will need these aids forever or that you wont need to transition away from them later, but in the newborn days sanity is the priority and the most important thing you do with your newborn is bond and part of that is making sure their basic needs are met.
– Nicole Johnson, The Baby Sleep Site
So, when you find yourself in need of a sleep crutch, feel free to lean on us! Learn more about how our Zen Swaddle works here.
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How Much Will My Baby Sleep In The First Year
Over the first year of life, your baby will sleep and nap a lot from 12 up to 18 hours a day. The amount of sleep an infant gets at any one stretch of time is mostly ruled by hunger. Newborns will wake up and want to be fed about every three to four hours at first. Do not let your newborn sleep longer than five hours at a time in the first five to six weeks. Thereafter, you can keep the following general milestones in mind:
- By six months, many babies can go for five to six hours or more without the need to feed and will begin to “sleep through the night.”
- Daytime naps reduce in number as the baby grows. A 2-month-old may nap up to four times a day, whereas an older infant may nap only one to two times a day.
How To Get A Newborn To Sleep
Getting your newborn to sleep longer stretches at night is not a perfect process. There is an ebb and flow. Its all about trying new things and finding something that works well for your baby.
We used these tips for our daughter, and she slept so well during the newborn phase, my husband and I enjoyed a generous amount of time hanging out.
Heres the best part: When your baby sleeps better, you will notice a more patient, more tolerant, more engaging baby after a good nights rest or quality nap.
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Set A Bedtime Routine
A study of 405 mothers — with infants between 7 months and 36 months old — showed that babies who followed a nightly bedtime routine went to sleep easier, slept better, and cried out in the middle of the night less often.
Some parents start their baby’s bedtime routine as early as 6 to 8 weeks old. Your baby’s routine can be any combination of regular bedtime activities. The keys to success:
- Play active games during the day and quiet games in the evening. This keeps your baby from getting too excited right before bedtime but gets them tired from the day’s activities.
- Keep activities the same and in the same order, night after night.
- Make every activity calm and peaceful, especially toward the end of the routine.
- Many babies enjoy bathing right before bedtime, which calms them down.
- Save your baby’s favorite activity for last, and do it in their bedroom. This will help them look forward to bedtime and associate their sleep space with things they like to do.
- Make nighttime conditions in your baby’s bedroom consistent. If they wake up in the middle of the night, the sounds and lights in the room should be the same as when they fell asleep. If you need to feed or change your baby during the night, keep the lights low and the talking to a minimum. Too much stimulation can make it hard for them to settle again.
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Tip : Learning Your Babys Sleepiness Cues
In the first 3 months, babies don’t follow a set schedule for sleep. That is why we need to learn to read their tiredness signs, or “cues”. By 3 – 4 months of age, a sleep pattern will emerge and you will get better at reading their cues.
At any age, you want to watch for over-tiredness. A common myth that the longer you keep them awake during the day, the better they sleep during the night. Thats like suggesting that if you starve them during the day they eat better at night. Unthinkable, right?
Sleep is just like that. In fact, babies that are overtired will take a lot longer to fall asleep. So keep watching for their tiredness cues. Here are some of these cues, some more subtle than others:
Yawning: The easiest way to tell you baby is sleepy is if your baby yawns.
Rubbing Eyes, Ear or Head: Consistently scratching the ear or rubbing the head or eyes is a common sign of sleepiness.
Looking Away: Your baby may not hold your gaze and may look away.
Jerkiness or Fussiness: An overtired baby also gets fussy. The cry may vary from a soft whimper to harsh shrill, depending on how tired the baby is. Listening for cues earlier in the process will help preventing them from getting to this dangerous point. Once crossed this point your baby may take a lot longer to sleep making it a painful experience for both you and him.
How to Soothe an Overtired Baby
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Stick To An Appropriate Bedtime
Putting your baby to sleep later in the hopes that theyll sleep later in the morning most likely wont work. If youre following a schedule, its important to keep a regular bedtime for your little one to keep them on track and to help your baby sleep at more appropriate times. Remember, newborns dont have a set bedtime, because theyre just sleeping whenever they need to. But around 3 months old, you can start to establish a healthy bedtime to accompany your sleep schedule.
Fix Babys Day/night Confusion
When your baby is in the womb, it can lull them to sleep when youre walking around. Thats why just as you lay down to go to sleep at night, your baby might start moving, kicking, and keep you awake! So, when they are first born, newborns often have their days and nights mixed up. We call this newborn day/night confusion.
This typically resolves itself on its own but can linger if youre not careful. Make sure you limit any single nap to two hours and keep the baby up for at least 30 minutes to help reset their internal clock. You can use the SlumberPod to help with this by keeping your baby in a darkened space during sleep times but exposing them to indirect light during awake periods. This will help their brain adjust to the outside world and sort out day from night.
Also, consider that a newborns true bedtime will be late, at first since they will only sleep 8-9 hours at a time So, treat anything before 10 PM as a nap in the early days until you start to notice your baby treating their last nap as bedtime. This usually happens around 3 months old.
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Conditioning Baby To Fall Asleep
Sleep is not a state you can force your baby into. Sleep must naturally overtake your baby. Your nighttime parenting role is to set the conditions that make sleep attractive and to present cues that suggest to baby that sleep is expected. Try the following sleep tight tips, which may vary at different stages in your babys development. What doesnt work one week may work the next.
Get baby used to a variety of sleep associations
The way an infant goes to sleep at night is the way she expects to go back to sleep when she awakens. So, if your infant is always rocked or nursed to sleep, she will expect to be rocked or nursed back to sleep. Sometimes nurse her off to sleep, sometimes rock her off to sleep, sometimes sing her off to sleep, and sometimes use tape recordings, and switch off with your spouse on putting her to bed. There are two schools of thought on the best way to put babies to sleep: the parent-soothing method and the self-soothing method. Both have advantages and possible disadvantages:
1. Parent-soothing method. When baby is ready to sleep, a parent or other caregiver helps baby make a comfortable transition from being awake to falling asleep, usually by nursing, rocking, singing, or whatever comforting techniques work.
Baby learns a healthy sleep attitude that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a secure state to remain in.
Creates fond memories about being parented to sleep.
Builds parent-infant trust
Keep Awake Time Short
Newborns need to sleep 14-16+ hours a day until they are 3-4 months old. So, you would think they can stay awake a long time. After all, when we take a long nap, we arent tired enough to sleep. Not true for babies!
Babies are learning so much at a rapid rate. Everything is very new and stimulating. So, one of the best things you can do is offer your newborn a nap or bedtime within just 1-2 hours of being awake. Many newborns will only stay awake just 45-60 minutes at a time.
Some babies are more easily stimulated than others especially when they are very perceptive and alert! The benefit of keeping their awake time short is that babies typically sleep better when they are NOT overtired. Ironically, we all have an easier time falling asleep when we are tired but not exhausted. When we are exhausted, we can become wired and sleep more fitfully. So, keep the awake time short for your newborn for better sleep!
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Create A Bedtime Routine
As we mentioned above, babies perceive the world in a sensory manner. Therefore, if you want to make the sleep-in-crib transition a lot easier and far more accepted, you should create a routine that your baby can start predicting and get used to. Routines enable him or her to anticipate the crib, even at only a few weeks old!
Make sure that the baby bedtime routine is fun, stress-free, has multiple steps, and it transitions to bedtime. It doesnt have to be anything too crazy. An example could be nurse, bath, pajamas, story, sleepwhatever works best for your family.
Things You Can Do To Help Your Baby Sleep In The Bassinet
It is super frustrating when your newborn will not sleep in the bassinet. Here are 4 things you can do to help your baby sleep in the bassinet.
If you want to grab my baby sleep timing chart click here:
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Make A Planand Stick To It
Agree with your partner about what youll do when baby wakes in the middle of the night and who will do it. The number one way to fail is not to have plan, Ryan says. Set a date on calendar to start, and be consistent. Thatll make it so much easier for baby to learn.
Our infographic details sleep safety tips and advice for babys best sleep: