Getting a baby to sleep can be tricky, can’t it? Contrary to what many first-time parents-to-be assume, most babies do not simply fall asleep when they are tired and wake when they are rested. In fact, lots of babies go from sleepy to fussy to exhausted to overly tired to flat out screaming (sometimes, in a matter of minutes!)! There is just no “falling asleep naturally” at any point in that sequence. Similarly, not all babies wake up when they are rested and refreshed. By contrast, far more babies tend to wake up between sleep cycles and then can’t get back to sleep. That’s why some babies wake within 20-30 minutes of falling asleep and seem even fussier and crankier than they did before they fell asleep!
It’s clear, then, that getting your baby to sleep is an important task for many parents. Get baby to sleep, and you’ll ward off cranky overtiredness. And – even better – you’ll increase the chances that your baby sleeps for more than 20 or 30 minutes!
Now, a quick note about getting baby to sleep… There are tips and tricks you can use to get instant sleep. You can rock baby to sleep, pat baby to sleep, swaddle, use the swing, share a bed at naptime. All of these may indeed produce short-lived results. But the parents with whom we work are usually looking for more permanent solutions – like how to get baby to sleep well on a permanent, ongoing basis! That’s what we’ll address in today’s post.
Keep reading for tips on how to get your baby to sleep!
Get Baby To Sleep: 7 Sure-Fire Tips
- Start with a strong bedtime and pre-nap time routine. This is one of the easiest things you can do to help promote better, more consistent sleep.
- Keep your child’s room dark and quiet. Black-out blinds can help keep your baby’s room dim during the day – and that can really help promote sleep. In addition, a white noise machine (or a simple white noise app) can help block out unwanted noise that would otherwise make it tough for your baby to sleep.
- Establish a (semi) consistent daily sleep and feeding schedule. If your baby is quite young (less than 4 months old), then don’t focus on the clock. Babies that age aren’t ready for fixed schedules yet. Rather, focus on establishing sleep and feeding cycles (like an eat-play-sleep cycle) that can help you organize your day. If your baby is 4 months or older, however, you can begin building in fixed points to help firm up the times of a few naps and feedings. Then, as your baby grows, just add in more and more fixed points.
- Watch for drowsy signs. You’ll know your baby is drowsy if she starts to yawn, looks off to one side and avoids your gaze, begins rubbing her face or eyes, or starts chewing on her hands or fists (just to name a few). Try to lay your baby down for sleep at the first sign of drowsiness. If you wait too long, she’ll likely become overtired.
- Try putting your baby down for bed drowsy but awake one or more times each day. It’s normal for your newborn or young baby to need help falling asleep (help in the form of nursing or rocking or patting to sleep). However, as your baby gets older (say, around 3 months of age), begin putting your baby down drowsy but awake for one or two naps. This will lay the foundation for eventually learning to fall asleep unassisted.
- Identify your child’s sleep associations, and try to gradually wean your baby away from them. Again, sleep associations are normal and understandable. Just about all newborns need help falling asleep! But they can become habitual as your child gets older. Try to identify HOW your child falls asleep. From there, you can gradually wean your child away from his preferred sleep association until he is able to fall asleep without help. This “weaning away” process is called sleep coaching – and we just so happen to be experts at it! 😉
- Do your homework! Prepare for upcoming sleep changes and adapt as necessary. Here’s the thing: even if you get to the point where your child is sleeping well on his own, it may all change as your child grows. Sleep and feeding needs change frequently in your child’s first few years of life. This means that just when you think you’ve got it figured out, your child will likely throw you a sleep-and-feeding curveball! Fortunately, you can look ahead at sleep and feeding schedules by age. You can also look ahead at changing sleep needs by age, to prepare yourself for what’s ahead.