You did it! You delivered your precious little miracle into this world. Now, only if they would just get some sleep.
Everyone’s advice is always: “sleep when the baby sleeps.” But if your baby doesn’t sleep, not only are they not getting the rest their bodies need, but neither are you. Having a baby who doesn’t sleep is exhausting, frustrating, and can be a huge challenge. There is hope though.
We have compiled a list of the top 10 baby sleep ideas that you can try with your little bundle of joy to help them catch some much-needed sleep. We’ve broken our baby sleep tips into sections based on your babies age, since the strategies you’ll want to try with a nine-month old will look different from the strategies you’ll use with a newborn.
Tips for Newborn Babies
Swaddle Your Baby
Swaddling a baby is one of the key newborn sleep tips you’ll receive from the experts. When you swaddle a baby, you are helping to recreate the snug and secure feeling of being back in the womb. Babies also have a startle reflex, which can cause them to wake up from a deep sleep. When a baby is swaddled, they are less likely to move suddenly and wake themselves up. Depending on your baby’s preferences, you may need to swaddle him or her with their arms out of the swaddle. Be sure to stop swaddling once your baby is starting to learn how to roll over, since they may not be able to roll back over when swaddled.
Use White Noise
Another key piece of baby sleep advice is to use white noise. Having white noise playing in the nursery or your bedroom when baby is sleeping can help drown out other background noises that could wake baby up. White noise will also sound more familiar and comforting to your little one since it will mimic the sounds they were used to hearing when in the womb. There are different ways you can provide white noise for your baby. One option is to have a fan running in the room where the baby is sleeping. There are also many different sleep machines on the market that will play white noise along with other soothing sounds.
Try Not to Stimulate Baby During Middle-of-the-Night Feedings
Keeping baby calm during nighttime feedings is one of our other important newborn sleep tips. Newborns will need middle of the night feedings, but they don’t need to be completely awake to eat. Try to keep baby as calm and subdued as possible during these feedings. Use a dim light and change their diaper before feeding them. This will make it easier for baby to drift back to sleep once they have finished eating.
Pre-Warm the Crib or Bassinet Before Transferring Baby Out of Your Arms
Many parents share that their babies will pass out on them only to wake up as soon as they are placed in their crib or bassinet. Sometimes this happens because of the ‘shock’ baby feels getting moved from being against your warm body to feeling their cold sheet. One piece of baby sleep advice that may help is to pre-warm the spot on the crib or bassinet where you’ll be putting baby. A little before you’re ready to put baby down, place a heating pad or hot water bottle on top of their sheets. Remove it shortly before you put them down, and they’ll be able to enjoy a warm and cozy bed.
Tips for Three- to Six-Month Olds
Use Waketimes to Guide Naps
Many sleep experts recommend using waketimes to help you space out your baby’s naps appropriately. The theory behind waketimes is that if your baby is awake for too long, they get overtired. This can make them inconsolable and prevent them from getting to sleep on their own. Suggested waketimes (the amount of time a baby is awake between naps) have been created for different age groups, but in general a three- to six-month old should be taking about three naps each day. They should be awake between 1.5 and 2.5 hours between each nap. Since every baby is different, you will need to experiment a little to find the appropriate waketime for your little one.
Establish Bedtime and Naptime Routines
One of our best baby sleep tips is to start early with setting up bedtime and naptime routines. Routines help your baby learn when it is almost time to go to bed. They’ll begin associating the different pieces of your routine with getting sleeping, making the transition from being awake to falling asleep easier. You can make your routine look pretty much however you’d like it to look. The important thing is to be very consistent and do the same things every night. Some ideas you can consider incorporating into your routine include bath time, getting dressed, reading a story, or singing a quiet song.
Put Baby Down While They are Still Awake
It is tempting to rock your baby to sleep and move them to the crib once they are sound asleep, but this is setting yourself up for failure. If you do this consistently, your baby won’t be able to learn how to fall asleep without you holding them, which can make for some very tough nights when you decide to cut out rocking them to sleep. This is why one of our best baby sleep tips is to put your baby down when they are still awake instead of holding them until they are asleep. It may take a few nights for your little one to adjust to this change, but it will definitely pay off in the long-run.
Tips for Six- to Twelve-Month Olds
Set an Early Bedtime
You may think that if you put your baby down to bed later that they will sleep until later in the morning. However, the opposite is often true. When you put your baby to bed late, it is more likely that they will be overtired. Putting an overtired baby to bed is more challenging, and they are more likely to wake up throughout the night. Another reason an early bedtime is a common baby sleep tip is that it can help children sleep in longer. Keeping a consistently early bedtime is also key in helping to develop those important bedtime routines that will make it easier for you to put your little one down for bed.
Try Sleep Training
Another one of our baby sleep tips you may want to try with your older baby is sleep training. There are many different options when it comes to sleep training. Some of these include:
- Extinction: Extinction is often known as cry-it-out. For this method, you let your baby cry until they fall asleep. You should notice after a few nights that the amount of time they cry will start to decrease.
- Ferber Method: The Ferber Method has you go in to soothe your baby after different intervals. You start with putting them in the crib while they are drowsy, but still awake. Then, leave the room. If they start crying, go in after three minutes, then leave again. If they continue crying, waiting five minutes to go in. Continue this pattern increasing the amount of time before you go back into their room.
- Chair Method: With this method you start with sitting in a chair next to your baby’s crib until they fall asleep. Each night, you gradually move the chair a little away from the crib until you are completely out of the room and your baby is able to fall asleep without you.
Invest in Blackout curtains
Finally, consider investing in a pair of blackout curtains. Mimicking night sleep during naptime can help your baby take longer naps. Blackout curtains can also help your baby sleep better overnight since they won’t be woken up by the sun’s early rising or kept up on summer days when it is still light until almost 9:00.
Hopefully our list of the top 10 baby sleep ideas has helped to provide you with some new ideas to try with your little one. It is important to note that you will likely not see an instantaneous change in sleep patterns after trying one of these tips one time. You will need to be consistent and implement the same strategy over several days before you should expect to see any improvements. Here’s to better nights ahead.