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.
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 from Kimberly C. Starr in her post 7 Ways to Survive Baby, toddler, & 11 month Sleep Regression.
Or check out the Baby Sleep Miracle!