The 3 Keys To The Best Bedtime Routine
Calming activities: bathing, rocking, swaddling, etc.
Consistency: keep the routine consistent and it will become your baby’s “cue” that it’s time to sleep!
Simplicity: your routine should be easy to preform every night, in any environment. That way, even if you’re not at home, you can recreate the routine to get your baby to relax.
After your baby reaches the 6-week mark, its a great time to start implementing those good sleep habits. With a more predictable sleep and nap schedule, you can really hone in on that bedtime routine, which you probably tried to start during the newborn phase. Now, it will be a little easier to maintain.
Also keep in mind that your baby has and is continuing to undergo a lot of changes during this time so something that might have helped soothe them to sleep a few weeks ago, might not do the trick anymore. Your bedtime routine can include a warm bath, getting cleaned up , getting into jammies, cuddling, story time, swaddling, and a myriad of other things. As long as its an activity thats calm and quiet, do whatever seems to work for your baby.
Watch the video below to hear an example of a simple bedtime routine from Zen Mom Brianna.
A consistent sleep environment plays an important role in developing this routine and associated schedule as well.
To Understand How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night You First Need To Know If Your Baby Is Able To Sleep Through The Night
You can also help set the stage for a good night’s sleep by making sure your baby is cultivating good sleep habits during the day, which will help them sleep better during the night too.
Your baby has to be able to sleep through the night before they can! There are a few milestones they need to reach first, like a decrease in Moro Reflex. Check out our article on When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night to learn if your baby is ready/able to sleep through the night.
If your baby is capable of sleeping through the night but still struggling, there might be an underlying reason your baby isnt sleeping through the night OR theyre right on the cusp of starting to sleep through the night. There are several reasons that can cause your baby not to sleep through the night, including sleep regressions, a growth spurt or illness, or the inability to fall asleep independently.
Whether your baby is experiencing one of the problems above, or theyve just surpassed the milestones to be able to sleep at night, there are ways you can help your baby sleep through the night.
The Decision Whether To Cosleep With Your Baby Is Extremely Controversialand There Are Two Sides To The Story
Few parenting conversations in early childhood elicit as much angst and judgment as the one about our childrens sleep: Where should they sleep, and how do we get them to sleep through the night? We label newborn babies as good, or not, depending on how much they disturb us in the nighttime, or we believe babies sleep is a reflection of our parenting competence.
But our beliefs and decisions about childrens sleep are more a reflection of the culture we live in than the scientific evidence for whats best for children, says anthropologist James J. McKenna, in many of his 150 scientific articles on childrens sleep. McKenna is director emeritus of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, and author of Safe Infant Sleep: Expert Answers to Your Cosleeping Questions. He has devoted his career to understanding what happens to babies and their caregivers when they sleep together versus apart.
McKennas conclusions, supported by research from other anthropologists and developmental scientists over the last 30 years, have thrown him into direct conflict with the American Academy of Pediatrics over recommendations about where babies should sleep. Separately, say the pediatricians, while McKenna and his colleagues say, Together, but safely. McKennas easy-to-read book offers important insights about how cosleeping can be made safe and what kind of benefits it might promote for childrens development and parents well-being.
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The Psychological Benefits Of Cosleeping
Meanwhile, anthropologists observed that all mammals and primates, as well as the majority of non-Western societies around the world, coslept. Therefore, it was likely that the practice had some biological advantage.
One of McKenna and his colleagues greatest scientific contributions has been to show how parents serve as a kind of biological jumper cable, or outsourced regulator, to a newborn baby when she is completing her gestation outside her mothers body. When parents and babies sleep together, their heart rates, brain waves, sleep states, oxygen levels, temperature, and breathing influence one another.
To a biological anthropologist, this mutual influence implies that the offsprings growth is intended to occur most safely inside that biological system, near an adults body, especially in the first few months of life while the babys own physiology is the most immature. For example, animal studies found that when baby monkeys were separated from their mothers, their bodies went into severe stress. A small study of 25 four- to ten-month-old babies who were separated for sleep training showed that even though the babies behavior quieted on the third night, their levels of cortisol remained high.
Understand Your Baby’s Sleep Needs
During the first 2 months, your newborn’s need to eat overrules their need to sleep. They may feed almost every 2 hours if you’re breastfeeding, and possibly a little less often if you bottle-feed.
Your baby may sleep from 10 to 18 hours a day, sometimes for 3 to 4 hours at a time. But babies dont know the difference between day and night. So they sleep with no regard for what time it is. That means your babys wide-awake time may be from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
By 3 to 6 months, many babies are able to sleep for a stretch of 6 hours. But just as you think your baby is getting into a nice routine — usually between 6 and 9 months — normal developmental stages can throw things off. For instance, when your baby begins to associate bedtime with being left alone, they may start crying just to keep you around.
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Bonus Tip: Remember The Big Picture
If youre feeling stressed about your babys short naps, it can help to have a look at the big picture.
Track your babys sleep for one week. How much sleep does he get in 24 hours? If naps are on the short side, but baby sleeps a total of 14-15 hours each day it may be that your baby prefers to sleep longer at night.
When Should I Seek A Doctor’s Help
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your baby seems to be extremely fussy/irritable or cannot be soothed he/she may have a medical problem such as colic or reflux .
- Your baby appears to have a breathing problem.
- Your baby has a difficult time being awakened from sleep.
- Your baby is uninterested in feeding or persistently shies away from activity.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/17/2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Accessed 3/23/2020.
- National Sleep Foundation. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Sleep. Accessed 3/23/2020.
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. November 2016, 138. Accessed 3/23/2020.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Safe Sleep. Accessed 3/23/2020.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Sleep Education. Healthy Sleep Habits. Accessed 3/23/2020.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy
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Teach Your Newborn To Sleep
If you can get in the habit of putting your newborn to sleep while he is drowsy but still awake, then you will begin to teach him how to put himself to sleep. Like adults, babies go through several cycles of wakeful periods during the night. Adults can put themselves back to sleep with no issue. For babies, this is a learned skill. The sooner your baby can fall asleep on his own, the sooner your baby will sleep through the night.
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Tip : Avoid Eye Contact
It might sound a little strange, but it’s true. Prolonged or animated eye contact is actually very stimulating for babies, so it makes sense that you’d want to avoid this before bedtime and during night feedings and changes.
When you go to feed your baby in the middle of the night, it’s important to keep them as calm and under-stimulated as possible. Although you might be doing all the right things when it comes to ambiance you also have to take into consideration your own actions and presence.
Just a short gaze or excitement in your voice can be a signal to your baby that it’s playtime. Be sure that you’re staying clam and low-key when you check on them at night. Avoid eye contact and speak to them in hushed tones so they know it’s still time to sleep, not to play!
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Bedtime Secret: Dim The Lights
Melatonin, a hormone thats made by the pineal gland in the brain that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles, starts to increase in the evening, after sunset, and tends to stay high throughout the night, while it’s dark. After sunrise, it starts to decrease, when it’s time to wake up.
But if you have tons of bright lights on in the house until midnight, including light from electronic devices, that can disrupt melatonin production. So try dimming a bright overhead light in the nursery, or turn it off and use a nightlight instead. Not only will softer lighting help trigger your baby’s body to produce melatonin, but it will also act as a visual cue, so your baby knows that it’s time to wind down.
Q: How Many Mls Are Appropriate For A Dream Feed
A: Generally, you should aim to have your baby drink as much as they would during a normal feed while dream feeding. The amount that a baby should be eating every feed is based on their age.
Newborns generally drink about 45-90 milliliters every 2-3 hours. At 2 to 3-months-old your little one will be drinking about 120-150 milliliters every 3-4 hours. From 4 to 5-months-old they could reach as much as 180 milliliters per feed. And by 6-months-old most babies are up to about 180-230 milliliters every 4 to 5 hours.
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Its A Theory Lacking Evidence
Although feeding your baby formula at night sounds like it can promote better sleep, this old wives tale has actually never been proven. Various blogs and forums discuss this topic, but there have not been any studies that show this to be true. Aim to find evidence-based studies versus individual opinions.
Needless to say, feeding your baby formula at night to promote better sleep still lacks sufficient evidence and supportive claims. It is advisable that you continue breastfeeding even in the wee hours of the morning.
Stick with it and youll be thankful you did!
Set Up A Proper Sleeping Environment
The proper sleep environment will matter more and more as baby gets past the 6-week mark. Set up a room for your baby to sleep for naps and bedtime. The sooner your baby starts to associate darkness and loud white noise with sleep, the easier his or her life will be.
People always worry their baby will become addicted to or dependent on darkness and white noise, and then wont be able to sleep without it. Newsflash: adults have sleep preferences too! I dont like to sleep on planes, trains, or automobiles. I prefer sleeping in my bed, with my pillow, etc. Many adults swear they sleep just fine through any errant noise, but studies show that constant pink noise helps the brain go into more stable levels of sleep. You can also just not use white noise or darkness, and then see how that goes.
Most babies sleep better with loud white noise, and as-dark-as-possible darkness. This is a post about how to get your kiddo to sleep better, after all
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Bedtime Secret: Set Aside Some Quiet Time
This can mean everything from reading stories to your baby to listening to soft music togetheror even singing to your little one.
In fact, reading isn’t just calmingit can also boost your little one’s brainpower. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading every day to little kids, beginning when they are infants, to improve their acquisition of language and overall literacy skills.
If you’re looking for some musical inspiration, play one of the 14 lullabies on the free JOHNSON’S® BEDTIME® baby sleep app, such as Hush Little Baby and Lullaby and Goodnight. The app also offers 14 ambient sounds, including the sound of ocean waves and gentle rain.
Will Babies Sleep Longer If They Get Formula At Night
Its been said that feeding your newborn a little formula at night can help keep a babys belly full and sound asleep.
Since newborns are meant to wake up many times throughout the night, new moms are eager to catch up on their lost sleep. But an old wives tale has been circling the internet concerning formula and its ability to keep a baby asleep longer.
So if you feed your newborn formula just before bedtime, will it ensure a restful sleep for you and baby? Lets just say theres some advice we carry down from generation to generation But this should not be one of them.
Feeding a newborn a heavy bottle of formula to keep them full and happy at night might seem like a good idea, but it could actually make your child wake up more.
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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