Some babies sleep way less than others. Some sleep in short bursts, others for long periods. Some babies won’t learn to sleep through the night for a long time while some may learn to do so very fast. Your baby is not any different. It will have its own pattern of sleeping and waking up. Also, don’t expect this pattern to be similar to other babies you know.
The main question for restless parents is “How to get baby to sleep?” You have to know that it is really hard for newborns to distinguish night from day. This explains their short bursts of sleep. However, you can start teaching your child the difference once it is a few weeks old. In addition, this practice will help with establishing healthy sleep habits for your baby while it is still very young.
So, if you are wondering how to help baby sleep better through the night, here are some useful tips.
Using Light Properly
According to leading pediatricians, a baby’s “go” button is pushed when there’s light around the baby. On the other hand, our brains naturally start releasing melatonin, a sleep hormone, when we are in darkness. You can use these facts to your advantage. Keep your baby’s nights dark and its days bright. This will quickly help your baby to realize when it is sleep time.
Take your baby outside or provide enough sunlight into the house during the day. Your baby should be taking daytime naps in a room where there’s a lot of light. Of course, if you’re wondering now how to get baby to sleep during nap time if the baby can’t sleep in a lighted room, just consider dimming the lights a bit.
You want to install light dimmers in your baby’s room to induce nighttime sleepiness. Also, consider doing the same thing in other rooms where you spend a lot of time with your child. What you want to do is lower the lights about two hours before your child falls asleep. This will set the mood for your child and get it to sleep easier.
It’s not a bad thing to use a night-light in your baby’s room. However, make sure you choose a dim, small one that doesn’t get hot. Of course, don’t plug it anywhere near drapes or crib sheets.
Don’t carry your child into a brightly lit room or turn on the lights if it wakes up during the night. If you do this its brain will be telling your baby that it is time to wake up. Just soothe your baby back to sleep without turning any lights.
Consider installing room-darkening shades if your child has trouble napping in the afternoon, or if the morning sunlight wakes your child up way too early.
Drowsiness, Not Sleepiness
Your baby should go to bed when it is drowsy, not when it is already sleeping. This is a general rule of thumb, especially for breastfed babies. If you find out the right timing your baby will rest much easier – which means you will too. Pediatricians recommend this technique because babies learn much faster how to fall asleep on their own by doing this.
In other words, put your baby in bed as soon as you notice that she’s quieting down. You can develop a “scale of sleepiness” to determine if your child is sleepy enough to go to bed. The scale can be from 1 to 10 with 1 being fully awake and 10 sleep. You should then be able to notice when your child hits 7 or 8 on the scale and put them to sleep then.
Waiting Before Going to Baby
You will only teach your baby to wake up more often if you check the baby monitor every time when you hear a squeak. If you really want to learn how to help baby sleep better during the night you need to wait for a couple of minutes and see if your baby is able to fall asleep on its own. However, try to reach your baby if you think it is waking up to make her fall asleep again.
It is totally okay to turn the sensitivity down on your baby monitor. You want to set the volume high enough so you know when your baby is distressed. But, you shouldn’t be hearing every little sound – it will just make your sleep worse.
A lot of babies are stimulated very easily. Only if you just meet your child’s gaze can grab her attention and she may think that it is playtime.
Parenting advisers suggest that making eye contact with a sleepy baby may only encourage it to get out of the sleep zone way before it is time for that. The baby will have more motivation to get up if there is a lot of interaction between you two during the night.
So, how to help baby sleep without looking at her eyes? Simply, just keep it low-key. Just sing your baby’s favorite song or talk excitedly if you go to your baby at night. Soothe her back with a gentle touch and quiet voice and keep your gaze on your baby’s belly.
You may be changing your baby’s diapers every time it wakes up. Resist this urge since there’s no need to do this always and you will just remove any possibility from going back to sleep. Put your baby in a high-quality overnight diaper instead. Then, if your baby wakes up during the night all you have to do is sniff the diaper to check if it is soiled. If there’s poop, change the diaper.
Use a wipe warmer to warm your wipes in order to avoid waking your baby fully if you need to change the diapers during night time.
Waking your child up for a late-night feeding may lengthen its sleep during the night, especially if your baby has trouble falling asleep in general. You should do this sometime between 10 p.m. and midnight.
Gently lift your baby out of its crib but keep the lights dim. Take a bottle or settle him down to nurse. Your baby might wake up just enough to start feeding. But, if your child is not waking up just put its lips on your nipple gently. Put your baby back to bed without burping it after he is done with feeding. Make sure you don’t make any noise while doing this.
White Noise Machines
This is something you definitely want to buy if you want to soothe your baby and get some rest during the night. A white noise machine will block sounds from around your house, such as other children’s screams and cries. Also, traffic is something that a white noise machine can also block. In addition to that, these machines produce a sound that’s proven to help babies (and even some adults) sleep better through the night.
Some people use a hairdryer or vacuum cleaner sounds to soothe their child. Infants respond positively to these sounds and you should try this method if you want to soothe your child. However, you want to pay attention to the volume settings on a white machine you use. Some machines are proven to produce sounds that are way above limits for infants. So, either buy one that has programmable volume settings or consult with your baby’s pediatrician to check if the machine you buy is safe.
Find a Snoozy Tune
There are thousands of available tunes that might help your child sleep thanks to modern technology and the Internet. There are moms who especially recommend zen instrumentals when it comes to sleep music. Also, there are a ton of audio lullabies on the internet especially made for infants who have problems falling asleep.
As you probably have access to the Internet at your home, you should definitely try different tunes to find the one that suits your child the best. Try different websites and different styles of music and see what fits the best for your baby. You can play most of this music on your smartphone – meaning that your child will have access to its favorite tune wherever you go.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
When your infant is about 3 months old, consider introducing a bedtime routine as it will immensely help with falling asleep. Of course, this has to be a soothing and simple routine that will help everyone sleep better. This practice also shows good results in decreasing the risks of developing sleeping problems later in life. Also, It has a social-bonding aspect between you and your child.
Try this routine if you can’t come up with your own:
- Taking a warm bath
- Changing into fresh clothes
- Brush your child’s teeth (if there’s any)
- Putting your child to bed
- Bedtime story
- Create a calm atmosphere by dimming the lights in the room
- Cuddle and kiss your baby for a good night
- Sing a lullaby or leave your phone with a soothing melody in a room where your baby sleeps
Sacrificing Nap Time
As the name suggests, you can try sacrificing some of your baby’s nap time to help it sleep better through the night. Simply, keep the room where your baby takes a nap lighted and don’t let your baby oversleep. Some moms report that this helps immensely with falling asleep when the night falls, without waking up during the night.
However, infants do need a lot of sleep so consult with a doctor to make sure this method is safe for your child.
You shouldn’t be asking “How to get baby to sleep?” but “How to train my baby to sleep on its own?” You can start establishing healthy sleep habits as soon as your baby is born. However, be sure that your child won’t be ready for proper sleep training until it is at least 4 months old – no matter how tired you may be.
Good news is that your baby will be much more receptive to the methods you use after it turns 4 months. In addition, it will also be ready to sleep for longer stretches.
Keep in mind that newborns will often change their sleeping patterns. If you think that everything is sorted out – be sure that you will spend a lot more nights without sleeping. Your baby will change routines as it grows. Also, illness, teething, and growth spurts may affect your baby’s sleep.
Newborns tend to wake up often during their first months and making through these disturbed nights is really hard for a lot of parents – especially because they need to work extra hard during the day to provide for the family.
Partners should encourage each other to share the feeds if the infant is on baby formula. On the other hand, if you are breastfeeding your baby, make a deal with your partner about who will be doing early morning dressing and changing so you can rest well.
You can also use a breast pump once you’re into a good breastfeeding routine. By doing this you will allow your partner to occasionally offer your child a bottle of expressed breast milk so you don’t have to wake up during the night.
Baby Planet Overview
Getting enough sleep is crucial for both you and your baby. However, a lot of parents have difficulties because their babies can’t maintain a regular sleeping pattern. There are a lot of methods you can try as a parent that might help your child fall asleep. The main goal of using these methods is to help your child understand when is it time for sleeping and when should it be awake.
You should try different techniques and see what works best for your child. Also, by establishing a sleep routine you will be preventing potential sleep disorders later in your baby’s life. Finally, these techniques will hopefully help you sleep more and be ready for the next day with your baby!
- Infant Sleep Training: rest easy? , ncbi.nlm.nih.gov