Follow The Eat Wake Sleep Cycle
The baby wakes from sleep and immediately eats. Then the baby is awake for a while to play. Then the baby goes back to sleep.
This cycle has several purposes. First, it encourages full feedings by allowing the baby to eat immediately after waking. The baby will have the most energy immediately after waking, making him more inclined to take a full feeding and go longer between feedings.
Also, by feeding the baby after sleep rather than before sleep, the cycle prevents the baby from associating food with sleep or using food as a sleep prop. When using this cycle, a feeding before bedtime is typically only feeding before sleep.
Of course, there were times where I definitely fed my baby before sleep. He needed a little TLC for a certain nap, and I was totally fine offering it when he needed it. But for the most part, I tried to avoid feeding him right before sleep.
Note: Newborns require frequent feedings and rest to ensure healthy growth a development in the early months. Always feed your baby as frequently as your baby needs to ensure healthy weight gain.
Your Babys Hormones And Sleep/wake Cycles
Understanding how hormones and neurotransmitters impact on sleep will help you when it comes to getting your baby to sleep.
The key hormones that govern sleep are melatonin and cortisol. Their levels change through the day, which is why is easier to fall asleep at certain times of day. Cortisol is the hormone that keeps us awake and alert. Its at its highest at 8am, dropping off through the day. Melatonin, on the other hand, increases in the absence of light and prepares us to fall asleep.
Why is this important to know for your baby? Well, by working with the hormones, half your sleep battle will be won.
To get your baby to sleep with ease, you should assist the brain to release melatonin and try to avoid having to put your baby to sleep once her cortisol levels are high.
When your baby is overtired or has been stimulated for too long, she has to try to remain alert and focused. To do this, her brain releases cortisol. Since cortisol keeps your baby awake, its unwise to stimulate or stress her when a sleep is due or to allow her to become overtired at all.
Stay Home For Your Babys Longest Stretch Of Sleep
A common reason for babies to be tired is that theyre out and about, away from their usual sleep environments. Many parents compensate by timing naps to when theyre driving or out for a stroll. But unfortunately, babies dont always sleep in those situations.
The result? A cranky, tired baby, even though she technically napped.
Instead, figure out when your baby usually takes her longest nap. Is it the first one after waking up for the day, or the afternoon one after a fun outing?
Then, decide to stay home for that nap. Keep things subdued and routine, so that your baby has a chance to sleep long and deep at home, rather than in the car or stroller.
Don’t Miss: Can Newborn Fall Asleep With Pacifier
Stop Overthinking The Situation
Resist the urge to research “how to put a baby to sleep” every single night. “Information overload causes parents to try a million different things, which doesn’t build any consistency or trust,” says Prueher. “Children thrive on knowing what to expect.” She recommends giving your baby a little space to show their capabilities.
Safety First: Lower Sids Risk
Every time you put your baby down to sleep, whether it’s at night or for a nap during the day, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you do the following to lower the chances of SIDS :
- Always put your baby down to sleep on their back.
- Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
- If you baby falls asleep in a stroller car seat or swing, try to remove them and lay them down on a flat surface.
- Your baby should sleep in the same room as you, but not in the same bed as you.
- Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and bumper pads.
- Dont rely on devices which claim to prevent SIDS.
- Do not use wedges and positioners.
- Offer your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
- Avoid covering your baby’s head or overheating.
- Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Make sure your baby gets all recommended vaccinations.
- Get some skin-to-skin contact time with them.
- Give your baby supervised, awake tummy time every day.
- Don’t smoke.
- Breastfeedyour baby.
- If you are tired, dont breastfeed while in a chair or on a couch in case you fall asleep.
- If you’re pregnant, get regular prenatal care.
Recommended Reading: What Can Cause Seizures In Newborns
Sleep Problems: 6 Months Old And Up
These days your babys sleep pattern likely looks a whole lot different than it did just a few short months ago.
At 6 months, your baby should clock 10 to 11 hours of sleep at night and take two or three naps during the day.
Whats more, babies who are 6 months old and up are completely capable of sleeping through the night. And yet, there are still plenty of things that can disrupt their snooze time.
How Much Does A Newborn Baby Sleep
Babies and infants require a lot of sleep. A healthy newborn baby will spend a majority of their 24-hour day sleeping.
To be exact, a newborn should sleep 17 to 20 hours per day, on average. These hours arent consecutive. If they were, parents would never have problems with sleep deprivation! A newborn will sleep one to four hours at a time. Most often, your baby will sleep two to three hours chunks.
Nighttime sleep should be eight to 12 hours, waking every two to four hours to eat. Breastfed babies do tend to wake up every two to three hours because breast milk digests faster.
Most newborns can only stay awake for 45 minutes to an hour at a time. You have to be cautious not to keep your baby awake for too long! An overtired baby is harder to get to sleep and fussy.
Throughout the first 12 weeks of life, your baby will start to develop day and night sleep patterns. By the time your baby is three months old, he will sleep 14 to 15 hours per day. Babies are always changing!
Recommended Reading: What Are The Best Diapers For Newborns
Put Baby To Sleep When He Is Awake
Beginning at around 4 months of age, you can help your baby learn to fall asleep on his own by putting him to sleep when he is drowsy but not asleep. Learning to fall asleep on his own also helps him get himself back to sleep when he awakens in the middle of the night. When you rock your baby to sleep, rub his back, or feed him until he falls asleep, he may have trouble putting himself back to sleep when he wakens at night. He needs you to get him back to sleep. Theres no right or wrong way to put your baby to sleep. Your bedtime approach depends on your beliefs, values, and goals around sleep.
Will Your Baby Sleep When He Or She Is Hungry Probably Not
This is one reason why newborns sleep in short bouts. They get hungry!
What can we do about it? Not much, not when our babies are very young. They need frequent feedings in order to grow and thrive.
But you can probably improve your own ability to sleep with smart timing.
Dream feeding is a technique in which you provide your baby with a big meal immediately before you attempt to fall asleep for yourself. The idea to help your baby tank up, so your baby will sleep longer.
Another tactic is to introduce brief delays before beginning those middle-of-the-night feeds. For example, instead of feeding your baby immediately, you might change your babys diaper first. As babies get older, this might help them break the association between night wakings which all babies experience and feeding.
Do these tactics work? One experimental study suggests they do.
Researchers recruited 26 families, and assigned half the parents to offer their babies a big meal between 10pm and midnight. They were also told to avoid feeding babies immediately after they woke up during the night.
In addition, parents were instructed to expose their babies to strong cues about the natural, 24 hour day.
The intervention appeared to be very successful. Eight weeks after training began, 13 out of 13 infants in the treatment group were sleeping quietly from midnight to 5am . Only 3 out of 13 control infants were doing so.
It sounds promising, but keep in mind: This is a small study that needs replication.
You May Like: How Many Ounces Should A Newborn Drink Per Feeding
The Ideal Temperature For A Babys Room Is 68 Degrees
A baby can get hot or cold easily. The younger a baby is, the harder it is for them to regulate their own body temperature. Personally, I was constantly overdressing my first and cranking the thermostat up to make sure she wasnt cold.
However, she wound up being too hot instead! Make sure that the nursery is the ideal temperature to help your baby fall asleep at night.
Toddlers Babies And Moms Need Sleep
Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers need well-rested nights too.
These techniques work for babies, toddlers and even preschoolers that are struggling with staying asleep at night.
Simple changes to your routine can have your little one snoozing regularly in as little as one week of course, there are always exceptions, most of which are due to health issues.
But the typical, healthy baby or toddler will benefit greatly from these changes.
Try them and see!
Note: These ideas are not for newborns or babies under four months of age. These only work for babies ages four months up until preschool age.
Also, if your baby, toddler, or preschooler awakes with a sharp, wincing scream ignore all the below and check for long hairs tied around fingers or toes, nightmares, soiled diapers, etc.
Never ignore a painful cry!
But these tips are NOT for the faint at heart.
Recommended Reading: How Often Should A Newborn Cry
How To Change A Newborns Sleep Patterns
Your newborns sleeping patterns are difficult to change, but theres a lot you can do to make her environment more conducive to sleep, including making sure shes fed with a clean, dry diaper, checking that her room is the right temperature and she’s not overdressed for sleep, and avoiding any distracting lights or sounds that could keep or wake her up.
In the meantime, you might need to adjust your own sleep schedule to get the rest you need. When your baby is around 3 months old, you can try getting her on a sleep schedule, and when she’s between 4 and 6 months old, you can try sleep training if you want to.
Parenting is full of surprises, and your babys sleep schedule is no exception. Your little one likely wont start to establish a regular sleep routine until around 8 to 12 weeks of age, and even then her sleep schedule will probably change, thanks to developmental milestones, travel and other common sleep routine disruptions.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Tip : Don’t Try To Do It All
Moms always want to do it all – it’s part of our nature. But when you’ve just had a baby, “doing it all” is more exhausting than it normally is…and somewhat impossible. This tip is mainly to help you get the rest you need but is also a reminder that your attitude and exhaustion can rub off on your baby.
If you’re cranky and tired and you’re trying to soothe your baby to sleep, they’re going to pick up on that. That’s why it’s sometimes a good idea to pass baby off to someone a little calmer and more relaxed when trying to get your baby to sleep. If you are calm, your baby will clam easier as well.
Since stretching yourself too thin doesn’t do any good for you or your baby, don’t feel like everything is up to you! Ask a friend or family member to babysit for a few hours so you can go take a nap or get out of the house.
If you don’t feel comfortable handing off any newborn duties quite yet, let go of some of the other things on your plate and delegate them out. The laundry, vacuuming, cooking, walking the dog…these are all things you can either ask a friend or family member for help with, or hire someone to do for you. While you might not normally spend money on these types of services, with a new baby at home it will save you time and your sanity.
Friends and family are always looking for ways to help new moms. So tell them what you REALLY need when they offer.
You May Like: What Do You Need For A Newborn
A Bed Goldilocks Will Love
Create a comfortable and cozy oasis that no baby can resist falling asleep in. Be sure babys co-sleeper or bed isnt placed in a direct path of air vents. Add extra plush layers under babys sheets, or invest in a soft night-light. Whatever drifts them off to dreamland. Of course, this excludes putting an overabundant amount of blankets and toys in the crib with your baby, as this could increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome .
Common Challenges For Putting Baby To Sleep:
- Baby will only sleep when fed
- Baby will only sleep when rocked or in swing
- Baby will only sleep in sling or wrap
- Baby will only sleep in car seat
- Baby will only sleep next to you
- Baby will sleep at night, but not at naptime
- Baby wakes constantly all night
- Baby will not sleep without routine
- Baby sleeps well but wakes too early
This list only scratches the surface of the common sleep struggles parents must contend with, and is by no means exhaustive. Some of these problems will come and go, presenting themselves at different stages of babys development even if you dont experience one of these challenges now, it doesnt mean that your child wont develop it later.
Its best to learn the best practices for putting your baby to sleep now, so if you begin to spot a sleepy-time challenge, you can nip it in the bud early.
Also Check: How To Properly Bottle Feed A Newborn