May 31, 2018
The tiresome question of how to make a baby sleep peacefully through the night tops the charts for new parents.
Why so much focus on shut-eye? Let’s face it: parents need baby to sleep so they themselves can also get some shut-eye. Time drags on in the wee hours of the night as you’re woken up to cries every few hours or so—and that’s not even mentioning the sluggishness experienced throughout the following day or week.
You want to appreciate every awe-inspiring moment of parenthood and turn into the fun, high-energy parent you’ve always envisioned—not dozing off on the couch or struggling to keep your eyes open. Unfortunately, we don’t have superhuman strength, and we all need to get our rest.
First step? Learn how to get baby to sleep. Whether you’re looking for sleep tips for traveling with a baby or hoping to find techniques for putting baby to sleep at home (with the least stress possible for you and your little one!), we can help.
We’re here to break down the common challenges faced when putting baby to sleep, the best expert strategies on how to get baby to sleep through the night, and how to put your baby to sleep based on age, location, and bed type.
With this quick read—and a little practice on sleep training—you and your little one will be resting easy in no time.
Learning how to get baby to sleep can be challenging, but it’s simply a matter of understanding your little one’s needs. You have to realize the incredibly complex processes underway as your newborn struggles to grow and thrive in this new world outside of their mother’s womb.
A baby’s sleep is much different than adults’ sleep, and their sleep patterns revolve around their unique needs. Average total sleep time for a little one can vary significantly by age, as the chart below indicates:
Let’s take a look at some of the most common sleep needs, from infancy to toddlerhood, and how it might explain some of your baby’s sleep struggles.
Now that we’ve covered your infant’s sleep needs, let’s take a look at the common challenges you may face when putting baby to sleep.
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 baby’s development; even if you don’t experience one of these challenges now, it doesn’t mean that your child won’t develop it later.
It’s 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.
Every baby is unique, and learning how to make your baby sleep will depend on his or her special circumstances.
We’ve collected our top tips to help new parents learn how to put a baby to sleep—whether your little one is a relatively easy sleeper or struggles to go down.
Expose them to daylight during the day and into the afternoon, and use light strategically at night. Minimize exposure to artificial lights at night—especially blue light, which is known for blocking the brain’s production of melatonin (the hormone that promotes sleepiness). Alternatively, if you’re trying to delay your baby’s rest to keep them on schedule, a little exposure to blue light can be used to delay sleepiness for an hour or more.
This doesn’t have to be accomplished all at once; adjust their schedule little by little until you’ve lengthened their wake time long enough to where they no longer experience sleep issues at night.
Lay a receiving blanket in a diamond shape; fold the top corner down and lay the baby on top; pull one side across chest and tuck beneath opposite arm; fold bottom end over baby’s feet and tuck behind shoulder; pull remaining side across chest and tuck beneath. The strategy is easier said than done with a squirmy little one, but don’t give up! With time, you’ll easily become a “Master Swaddler.”
If you’re learning how to make baby sleep in a bassinet, chances are they’re still in their infant newborn stage. These portable baby beds are easy to move from room to room, and they can be placed right next to Mom or Dad’s bed for nighttime feedings. While mastering how to get a newborn to sleep right next to you in bed is easy—and tempting—it’s not safe. Experts recommend babies be placed on their backs in a bassinet or crib for the safest sleep and least likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Note: While some parents are proponents of the “cry it out” method, newborns are too young to self-sooth. They simply don’t have the ability to cry it out yet, so stay with them, rock them, and remain patient. Remember: these early days and months fly by quickly.
Deciding where to put your young baby to sleep depends on a variety of factors, first and foremost being your own beliefs and values.
If you’ve decided it’s time to relocate them from sleeping in your room to the nursery, follow these steps for how to put a baby to sleep in a crib:
Whether you’re putting baby to sleep in a bassinet or crib, consistency is key. Find a bedtime routine that involves bathing, feeding, diaper changes, comfort, and laying down; this structure cues sleepiness and helps the child prepare for rest.
Even though a baby isn’t capable of maintaining a routine until they’re 4-6 months old, laying the groundwork now can pave them for sleeping success in the future.
The trials and tribulations that come with understanding how to put a baby to sleep is usually the biggest stressor faced by newborn parents. Learning how to get a baby to sleep through the night, let alone a few hours, may seem like an impossible task—but with a bit of perseverance, it’ll be your reality.
Finding rest for you and your little one can indeed be done; all it takes is an understanding of their needs and the challenges they face, and how these might change as they grow and develop. Keep these thoughts in mind so the whole family can see their way to a deep and peaceful sleep.
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