Photo by Nicolas Las
Originally Posted On: https://babyshortlist.com/how-to-get-baby-to-sleep/
Babies often have trouble falling or staying asleep at night. It can take weeks, sometimes months, before they start sleeping more soundly. Every parent will face this challenge so it’s important to have a sound plan in place early on. The key to success is to establish a consistent routine and take a longer term approach. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day and babies need time to learn how to sleep. They’ve been a warm womb for months and suddenly are expected to sleep away from mom just like that? And with all those new sounds and sensations? Nope.
Just like adults, babies have to feel relaxed and comfortable in order to sleep soundly so the more you make them feel secure, comfortable and relaxed, the greater the likelihood of a good long sleep. And once you get them sleeping well and for longer, it’s just a matter of time before they eventually sleep through the night!
So here are 10 key strategies for getting your baby to sleep. Bear in mind that you may need to experiment to see which of these if not all help the most. Once you identify what works for your baby, try to be as consistent as possible including the time of day you start putting your baby to bed.
Photo by Valeria Zoncoll
1. Satisfied Needs
Babies will only sleep well when all their basic needs are met. They of course won’t fall (or stay) asleep if they are still hungry so be sure to keep track of how much you give them to ensure it’s enough. On the flip side be sure to not overfeed your little one as this will likely lead to an upset stomach and cause a spit up, which could wake your baby.
Besides a satisfied and happy tummy, make sure your baby is ‘fully burped’ or else gas could cause discomfort and your baby will struggle to stay asleep even after it falls asleep. Be sure to burp for at least 2 minutes with light taps and rubbing or upward pressure on their back.
Finally, be sure to check diapers before putting your little one to sleep since a wet diaper will cause some discomfort and besides being unhygienic, could cause your baby to wake up. Note that babies tend to become aware of having a wet diaper by time baby is 3 months so be sure to check!
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First and foremost, you should change your baby into pajamas (ideally after a bath). There’s something about a soft pajama that is relaxing for a baby so be sure to buy soft materials like pima cotton, or even a breathable fleece. Even in warmer climes with air conditioning we’ve found that babies prefer to be cozy and warm as if they are back in the womb. Just be sure to keep the temperature set to low 70s (Fahrenheit) and monitor your baby’s temp to ensure s/he is warm but doesn’t sweat.For newborns you will want to use a swaddle and for older babies you will want to use a breathable sleep sack. Swaddling is particularly important for newborns because wrapping their arms by their sides helps ensure they wont get woken up by their own startle reflex and ensures they feel secure. Some newborns take time to get used to a swaddle and most babies tend to love being sleep sack as long as it is flexible, so you will need to experiment to see what works. We highly recommend the butterfly type sleep sack from Love to Dream and recommend starting the fully enclosed sleep sack around the second or third month, then transition to one that allows for arms to move freely by the 4th or 5th month.
Photo by Caio
3. White Noise
White noise works by approximating the same noise your baby was used to hearing in the womb. It also drowns out background noises like street sounds or anything which could wake the baby up (like a squeaky door). British scientists at the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology first discovered in the 1990s that white noise helps to lull babies to sleep and keeps them asleep for longer.
There are tons of white noise machines on the market and so we recommend a quality one that produces a low frequency noise like the Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine, which also doubles as a night light. We no longer recommend fan-based white noise machines since we discovered that these generate high EMF (electromagnetic) levels, which clearly isn’t safe for a baby.
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Never have parents felt more empowered to shoosh! Besides working well with crying babies, it also helps at bed time, especially when combined with the other actions above. The key to shooshing is doing a soft gentle and repetitive shoosh. We recommend a slow drawn out shooooosh when baby is sleeping (vs three shoosh shoosh shooshes when baby is crying). The long slow shoosh will actually be therapeutic for your as its a form of breathing exercise i.e. meditation.
While shooshing may work better when your baby is a newborn, you can continue to use as your baby matures, perhaps for shorter periods of time as the baby learns how to sleep on its own. Just be sure to be consistent once you figure out what works for your baby!
Photo by Nico Las
While every baby is different, rocking or swinging really helps to lull your baby into a relaxed state of mind. Rocking or swinging is perhaps the most effective way to calm a fussy baby and can also help your baby when it is overstimulated and you’re trying to calm him/her before bed. You have to experiment to see what works best, but we recommend rocking your baby in your arms while standing or sitting your bed or sofa. Mechanical swings can also help when you baby is overstimulated or fussy but we generally recommend using these during the day. Checkout our best baby swings shortlist.Either way, if your babies needs have been met and it is cozy then rocking/swinging will be icing on the cake and your little one will be ‘sleeping like a baby’ in no time. You may want try rocking your baby to music and away from where it will sleep and most important of all, you don’t want to do big movements! You never want a baby’s head to bobble so do smooth, repetitive movements side to side or front to back while holding your baby securely
Photo by Nico Las
There is something about sucking that is stress relieving for babies and it also takes there attention away from whatever it is that is bothering them. A solid pacifier works wonders but you need to experiment and see which one your baby loves the most.
You may want to try the pacifier while rocking your baby, or you could use the pacifier when your baby is sleepy but simply cannot fall asleep. For instance, you can give your baby its pacifier when it is lying down in its bassinet or crib and already quiet. You can even softly shoosh (#4 above) while your baby drifts to sleep enjoying its pacifier. Note that the pacifier will most definitely fall out of your baby’s mouth again and again, so you may have to be on standby for a period of time to place it back in his or her mouth! Eventually your baby will not care that it’s precious pacifier has fallen and drift off to sleep so always wait a few seconds before you put the pacifier back in
Photo by Elviss Railijs Bitāns
7. Calming Music
Babies love music and are deeply effected by rhythm, which can help to lull them to sleep. We’ve collected feedback from many parents and noted that babies like genres such as jazz, classical guitar and classical piano but you have to simply experiment to see what works best. You basically want to end up listening to some calming music where the tempo is consistent and that there aren’t any sharp, high pitch noises or loud percussions which could startle your baby. While jazz and other genres can generally be calming, some songs may have some loud parts or transitions with loud sounds so choose wisely. Funnily enough, many ‘baby’ or ‘calming’ playlists on Spotify and other music platforms don’t make the cut because they feature songs all kinds of strident noises such as a saxaphone riff. When in doubt make your OWN mix!
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova
8. Dark, Cozy Room
Another thing you can do to help your baby is ensuring a dark and cozy room for your baby to sleep in. Not pitch black but dark. This could be your own bedroom or the baby’s own room as long as there aren’t any distracting or bright lights. Some parents think a dark room would be scary for a baby but if you think about it, your baby was in darkness for 9 months and was perfectly content. Bright lights will stimulate your baby so even in the day time you will want to close your curtains or blinds a tad. We don’t recommend making the room too dark during the day since it’s important for babies to get used to day vs night rhythm and sleep mostly at night. The only difference of course is that at night it will be very dark (depending on whether you live in a city or not) so always make sure you have a night light on in the room or some kind of baby light like Hatch set to low. Again, you want to have a dark room not completely pitch black. Finally, be sure you turn down the Brightness level of you phone display since the blue light emitted will not only wake your baby but also interfere with the chemicals that influence sleep hormones. All electronic devices should be kept more than 5 feet from your baby since they generate magnetic fields which are harmful at close proximity and interfere with sleep.
Photo from Pixabay
9. Your Presence
Being held and close to you is super important for a baby especially in the first 6 months, and especially before it falls into a deep sleep. This is because babies are programmed with survival mechanisms to ensure you wont abandon them. In fact it’s well known some babies will peek to see if you are still in the room, so the best thing to do is stay in the room for a good 20 minutes after you have put your baby to sleep. After you have done this for weeks you can then graduate to the next level and simply be in the room next door from your baby so that if it wakes (and it will) you can then quickly comfort it so that your baby knows you are always there for them.
This is all about trust as the baby needs to know it can count on you to protect him/her. Trust takes time and once your baby trusts that you are reliable he or she will begin to sleep more soundly. If your baby is extra fussy babies that needs extra attention, can simply sit next to their bassinet/crib and they will sense your presence (smell, movement, breathing, etc) or they can hear your talking in the room next door. Bring an ipad or book (which you can read with a night light) and play tag team with your partner. If you do this, they will learn to trust you and fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
Photo by Henley Design Studio
10. Bath Time
A nice warm bath will not only calm your little but also signal to your baby that it’s time for bed. We recommend doing giving a bath in the evening and use a thermometer of some kind to make sure the bath isn’t too hot (around 100 F is ideal). Getting into a routine doesn’t work right away and many newborns simply hate baths at first but if you smile and play with them, they will soon start to enjoy bath time. You will discover that your baby will begin to enjoy the sensation of feeling warm, water and even enjoy the massage like movements of your sponge. The warm water and smell of soap can also serve as a aromatherapy for your baby. We love Mustela Gentle Cleansing Gel, which smells wonderful – clean and cozy with notes of lavender and chamomile. After the bath, we also recommend to briefly massage your baby with baby massage oil and changing him/her into a cozy pajama.
Photo by Nico Las
Lavender and chamomile essential oils are safe enough to use for babies although be certain to use very very little – a drop or two in a tissue and never on or close to the baby! Both are known to induce a calming effect but be sure to use sparingly and consult your pediatrician first. We recommend buying pure essential oils but using very little (again a few drops). It’s also very important to buy a well-regarded brand like Aura Cacia since there are far too many fake or adultered essential oils on the market. You can also buy a room spray and spray a few puffs in the air. Aura Cacia sells a nice Aura Cacia Lavender Mist.At any rate, do your homework and avoid synthetic fragrances at all cost! You don’t want any harsh chemicals around your baby and while some fanatics argue all essential oils are bad for babies (we agree that many are), lavender and chamomile are safe. Again, always consult with a doctor.
And once you’re able to get your baby to sleep you will need a good baby monitor in order to ensure he or she is safe. A good baby monitors let’s you get on with your life without having to worry about your baby’s well being. Good baby monitors have good audio and visual on your baby thereby giving you peace of mind without over complicating or stressing you out. Have a look at our top picks by clicking below: