One of the most searched questions from new moms is How do I get baby to sleep?
Mama, I’m with you! Long days and sleepless nights with those newborns is rough!
When baby sleeps … well, that’s what dreams are made of.
And I want to help you get your babies to sleep … through the night, even.
But who am I?
Well, I’m a mom of two babies who learned to sleep through the night. 12-hours straight, as a matter of fact.
To be clear, this wasn’t all by luck. Getting a baby to sleep at night, longer, and in their crib was a lot of work.
Here’s a bit of back story:
My second baby slept roughly 12 hours at night when he was about 5 months old. That is, he slept straight through the night!
Now, before you get too jealous, you have to understand I wasn’t nearly as lucky with my first baby. My daughter was a 12-hour sleeper as a baby, but it took a lot more trial and error. She didn’t start sleeping through the night until she was about 8 months old.
The techniques I learned with my daughter were the most valuable tools in getting our second baby to sleep through the night much sooner.
Getting baby to sleep (longer) at night wasn’t luck or coincidence. At least, that’s not how I see it.
Getting a baby to sleep takes serious work and determination, especially if you have a high-needs baby.
I had to make some tough decisions and do things that most people judged us for.
Now, my purpose here isn’t to brag. Nor do I want to make you pea green with envy.
I want to share my secrets with you to help you get your baby to sleep better, too.
How to Get Baby to Sleep
Before you can think about getting baby to sleep through the night or sleep longer in a crib, you’ve got to ensure you understand how to get baby to sleep!
Healthy Sleep Habits for Baby
You should begin healthy sleep habits for your baby as early as possible.
Did you know newborn babies require up to 16 hours of sleep per day? Generally, this occurs between nighttime sleep and two or three daytime naps.
When my daughter was very young (and finally learning to sleep through the night around 8 or 9 months) her Pediatrician was surprised to find that she was sleeping 12 hours at night and taking consistent naps during the day totaling about 14 hours of sleep, which was appropriate for her age. The Pediatrician had remarked on how under-slept babies are today.Do you want to know how I got two babies to sleep 12 hrs a night? #babysleep #parenting #babies Click To Tweet
Contrary to what most people seem to believe later bedtimes do not help get baby to sleep any more easily.
Keeping our daughter awake later did NOT help with our sleeping situation! When she was about 8 months old, I realized that she was extra fussy and would often pass out in her swing around 6:30.
So, I began using the 30-45 minutes before that time to work on a bedtime routine so that she was in bed by 6:30. When I did this, almost immediately, she began to go to sleep more easily and would sleep longer.
By doing this, I was teaching her to follow her body’s sleepy cues. Plus, I was almost completely eradicating “the witching hour” by not allowing her to become overtired.
If you’re not sure about this, just think about the times you were so overtired that your body didn’t know how to wind down and made it more difficult to fall asleep. It’s like that for babies, only worse, because they don’t quite have their healthy sleep habits down yet.
Best Bedtime Routine to Get Baby to Sleep?
While many people suggest a bath before bed, you really should take special care to watch your baby’s reaction to bath time.
I began to realize that my daughter was energized, rather than soothed, by a bath. A bath became counter-productive in the search for a good night’s sleep.
Conduct bedtime routines that include reading, singing, and snuggling in a dimly lit and semi-quiet room.
I didn’t bathe either of my babies before bed because of the energizing effect it had on them.
With my son, I used only a single small lamp to change his diaper and get him dressed in PJs, then read a short book. Afterward, he’d nurse while I would sing and rock him … all without the use of artificial light.
Use the low light concept during the middle of the night wakings, too. I used the flashlight on my phone to change diapers then turned it off immediately and nursed quietly in the dark.
Turn on the White Noise
A white noise machine can help drown out background noises that might keep a baby from falling asleep or wake a baby up.
This helped both my babies and allowed us to continue on with life as usual.
Go ahead a live life without the fear of waking up baby from that precious slumber!
You can use a white noise app if you have a spare device or buy a white noise machine.
How To Get Baby to Sleep In Crib
You might be surprised by how much a swaddle will comfort your baby and help them sleep on their own. I imagine it felt like a nice warm snuggle, all night long!
Add an item that smells like mommy
Obviously adding extra items in a newborn’s crib isn’t the best idea, but what if you rubbed that swaddle all over yourself?
When baby is a bit older and can push things away from his or her face, adding a lightweight blanked that smells like you could be all the comfort your baby needs to sleep in his crib.
Consider some form of sleep training.
No matter what I tried, both my babies needed me to use cry it out and extinction.
The more I tried to help, the more worked up they got. So, I stopped trying (within reason).
They learned to put themselves to sleep, which made settling back in after night wakings easier, too.
And, while sleep training was uncomfortable, having babies that slept through the night and would wake up in a good mood was very rewarding!
How to Get Baby To Sleep Through the Night
Set thermostat temperature conducive to sleep
A cool room allows your body temperature to drop which will naturally signal that it’s time to sleep.
It is recommended to have the temperature set to about 70 degrees. We find that to be too cold for our liking. I recommend setting the thermostat as low as you can handle somewhat comfortably, which will help you and your baby get to sleep easier.
Dress your baby in a lightweight one-piece bodysuit and swaddle. If you’re not good at swaddling, cheat! I recommend the Summer Infant SwaddleMe, which has made swaddling idiot-proof.
Baby sleep schedule
Finding baby sleep schedules online isn’t difficult, but I recommend following these as guidelines for finding an appropriate sleep schedule for your baby. Check out these baby sleep schedules and guidelines from Parents.com. The American Academy of Pediatrics Supports Childhood Sleep Guidelines as recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which says infants should sleep between 12 – 16 hours in a 24 hour period.
If you find your baby is falling asleep at certain times of day, allow him to sleep. You’ll find that, by following your baby’s sleepy cues, you’ll have a schedule dictated for you and it will be what YOUR baby needs.
It’s a good idea to let your baby sleep as long as he or she needs. If you can, resist the urge to wake your baby to fit a schedule you wish to set.
When a baby is allowed to wake up on his own, he learns to trust his body and will sleep as much (or as little) as he needs.
Getting Baby to Sleep Longer May Be Determined By Daytime Sleep Schedules
Well, for one, letting your baby fall into a natural nap routine will teach him/her to trust when their body is tired.
When a baby is tired, let them sleep. They need much more shut-eye than children and adults.
If you’re keeping them awake in hopes of getting them to sleep “better” at night, you’re being counter-productive. Go back to read the Early Bedtime section where I talk about being overtired.
Having a solid and predictable nap schedule will actually help your baby learn to sleep better at night.
Make Night Wakings Boring
One of the most important things you can do is to remember to keep things very dark for nighttime wakings. As much as possible, to get your baby to sleep through the night, it’s important to train their brains and bodies to understand that night is dark.
Turn on only as much light as you need for nighttime feedings and diaper changes.
For me, this meant turning on my phone’s built-in flashlight to change diapers, and then I’d turn it off and feed in a completely dark room.
Make as little noise as possible, too!
I’ve found with both my babies that more singing or talking (and more lights) indicated that this was an appropriate time to wake up.
By keeping things dark and quiet, both babies were much easier to settle back into bed and began sleeping through those times they were only waking up for play.
How to Get Baby to Sleep Longer
Diaper one size up
I use Pampers Baby Dry diapers at night and use the next size larger for even more absorbency. A baby who is uncomfortable with a wet diaper will wake up more easily.
I only use this trick for wet diapers, but still recommend nighttime diaper changes if your baby has a poo.
Black out curtains
When baby is wanting to party every morning at 4 a.m., black out curtains are going to be your best friends. I found them helpful in getting baby to sleep better at nap time too.
Disclosure: I’m not a doctor or scientist and can only recommend you speak with a trusted pediatrician about this subject! I just want to share my personal experience.
I bucked the system and decided to let my babies sleep on their tummies (NOT if they were in a swaddle).
They slept better that way.
I watched to make sure they had good head and neck control before deciding on this option. This was a personal family decision that helped get baby to sleep and stay asleep longer (both times).
It worked for us, but I can’t tell you with any degree of certainty that’s it’s safe or effective for your family.
If you’d like a few more baby sleep tips …
Check out this short video from HealthyChildren.org with great advice on how to get baby to sleep, especially what to do when your baby wakes in the middle of the night.
Sleep from Healthy Children on Vimeo.
In this episode, Little Laura shows parents how to create a safe sleep environment and goes through the top ways to get a baby to go to sleep.
Need to Get Baby to Sleep During a Sleep Regression?
Maybe you already had your baby sleeping well and now you’re needing advice on how to get baby to sleep during a sleep regression? Check out these fabulous tips for managing the 4-month sleep regression.
Or check out the Baby Sleep Miracle!
Knowing How To Get Baby To Sleep Through The Night also means you need to know what is likely waking your baby in the middle of the night. I share that in this post.
I slept with both my babies. I still do! Neither would sleep without me!
I started that way with both. Once I trained them to sleep alone, I couldn’t get them to nap or sleep with me again LOL.
My daughter slept with us, but my son wanted his SPACE. Another tip I have, keep the lights to a minimum if you need to get up to nurse a baby.
I have my 7 week old sleeping next to me currently in my bed.
I did with all 3 until they went into their own cots in their own rooms.
Lots of great sleeping tips here. I really battled with sleep with my first. My second seems to be much better, although at 10 weeks it is still very early days. Still a few of these look worth trying like the large nappy for example. Emily #BrilliantBlogPosts
I actually wondered if my second was easier, or if I was just more knowledgeable. If you try any of my tips, let me know how they work for you.
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Great tips, so many people have problems getting the babies to sleep. #brillblogposts
It’s certainly not easy. Lots of work and a good amount of frustration!
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I am a firm believer in a routine! My son is 11 now and still feels/acts better when his routine is solid!
Also, your baby is precious 🙂
As a mom of three, we had used all these tips and my kids still are fantastic sleepers. Not only that they know the routine now and don’t fight or fuse to go to bed. It’s magical.
I am curious if you breast or bottle fed, and how you factor into that routine? Also, how do you account for or deal with night terrors/night wakings in older kids? Lol, this stuff worked for my youngest, but my oldest is a sleeping nightmare!
Both were breastfed, though I had to bottle feed the first after about 6 or 7 months when we realized she was intolerant to dairy & soy. Back then I didn’t know about cutting those things out of my diet. But, these tips worked for both kids.
As for night terrors/nightmares, I’ve always gone in and tried to be as calm and relaxing as possible, still keeping the lights off or as dim as possible. To be honest, though, my son hasn’t gotten to that point and my daughter rarely had those moments.
For older kids, I just try to reinforce that we’re there, but that nighttime is for sleep, always keeping rooms dark. We’ve given my daughter a kid’s flashlight in case she’s needed to see anything and that seems to help a bit.
Does that help at all? Or is there something more specific I haven’t covered?
I wish I had had these great tips when the boys were young! We actually have white noise machines in each of their rooms still, and I swear by them for later weekend sleepers!
We run a fan in our room as well to help drown out any odd noises. I swear by white noise for everyone 🙂
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[…] my second was a huge help in getting baby to sleep! However, swaddling from a blanket was a skill I never could quite master. Not even close. […]
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Regarding the advice, you gave on newborn babies require up to 16 hours of sleep and the healthy sleeping habits. Thank you so much for the detailed info. It can be hard to find good details on the web about this subject.
[…] Though it goes against every recommendation these days, there were many nights I shared my bed with my babies for the sake of some good shut-eye. Both my babies slept better and longer in my arms than in their own cribs. That is, until they became comfortable with sleeping on their own. I sleep-trained them with white noise and swaddling and eventually got them both to be 12-hour a night sleepers. If you want to know my tricks, check out 11 Terrific Tricks You Need to Get Baby to Sleep. […]
White noise is the best tip ever – it really helped me out in first weeks. I am really glad I used it. I’ve read about it in the book I got from my younger (but first to be mother) sister – „How to teach a baby to fall asleep alone” by Susan Urban. It really is about sleep training method but it starts even sooner telling about little helpers like this one and the wrapper. I used both and highly recommend. With this book my little girl is sleeping separately since month 4. She always was a heavy sleeper though, I am so lucky.
I love this HWL method! It helped me twice. With my first child I was using Ferber’s but then I’ve found Susan Urban’s guide and never looked back. This method worked faster and I really can tell that my baby was not suffering at all. Much much better.
I’ve heard about this book before and was not so sure about this. But when I tried – I changed my mind! It’s totally cool that just few pages of information are changing your life this much this fast. Susan is the best!
I love those parental-love guides! I used the breastfeeding one and the sleeptraining too. HWL method is so gentle I could not resist, even if I wasn’t really going to sleep train in first place.
Same here! My pediatrician told me about the Ferber’s. When I’ve found SUSAN (friend of mine showed me – luckily!) I changed sleep training method AND the doc!
Really?! Is someone still recommending Ferber? I cannot believe! I used Susan’s Hold With Love and cannot think of using anything else. In fact – know Susan’s books from my birthgiving classes when they were recommending her breastfeeding book.
Same story. I’ve been recommended CIO but finally ended up with Susan Ubran’s AMAZING method! I cannot even compare my feeling with those two options.
Swaddling is great option, my baby loved it and it helped her sleep longer. She’s also sleeping 12 hours now, thanks to my sleep training. I had the best book you can imagine – you get tips to follow since the very beginning (like swaddling and white noise) and when the time comes – there is a step by step training program that really works! The method is called Hold With Love and is developed by Susan Urban. Here is the book: https://www.parental-love.com/shop/baby-sleep-training-pdf and the best thing is – it’s without CIO!
I’m always happy to hear when others have the same success using similar techniques!
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I just become a father and I was looking for the article like this. My baby is having a hard time in sleeping. Will definitely try following this tips. thanks
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