I think you’ll agree with me if I say:
Being a parent is true happiness.
But you’ll also agree that being a parent means sacrificing a lot of things… such as sleep.
If you feel exhausted and sleep-deprived, here are our 10 most effective baby sleep tips to help you and your baby sleep better.
#1 Nope, don’t set your baby down at the same time
As a parent, we want consistency – I get that. But parents are fooling themselves if a young baby can get on a strict and rigid schedule at such a young age. So that means on a daily basis things may be pretty unpredictable until at least 6 months of age.
Babies are heavily dependent on sequential and predicted actions; therefore you can have a great routine right before sleep time to help cue your baby that sleep is coming. But, to keep your baby well rested, focus on the awake time between naps or bedtime rather than a set time each day or night.
Your baby’s internal clock will continue to develop around biological sleep rhythms after the oh-so-fun 4 month sleep regression. Until then focus on short awake periods. This will ensure that your baby doesn’t get too tired (or overtired) before going down. Use these guides to start:
- Newborn – 15-45 minutes
- 1 Month Old – 45 minutes – 1 hour
- 2 Months: 45 minutes – 1.5 hour
- 3 Months: 1 – 1.5 hours
- 4 Months: 1.5 – 2 hours
Setting up a sleeping schedule will be in your future – just make sure your baby can handle it first!
#2 Give Your Baby a Bath
If you have a habit of soaking your body in warm water after a tiring day, you probably know how soothing and relaxing this activity is. Bathing your baby in the evening is a great way to get her relaxed and make sure she falls asleep quickly.
But be careful here:
Some babies really love taking a bath and playing in the water, which means you might get the opposite effect — your baby will get excited.
That’s definitely not what you want before bedtime. So, you should just watch how your child behaves. If she starts rubbing her eyes after swimming in warm water, that’s the sign.
You might also want to try a sponge bath or a gentle massage to get your baby to sleep. Or, combine these two. This will make up a great bedtime routine.
#3 Change Diapers Before Bedtime
Before you start putting your baby to sleep, put her in a night diaper and don’t hurry to change it every time she wakes up and cries at night. The thing is, nighttime changes involve some interaction between you and your baby. As a result, she might wake up fully and be hard to lull back to sleep. So, do change her diaper only if you smell poop or if you see that the diaper is all soaked.
Night diapers don’t start until size 3 and any brand is just fine. But feel free to take the Amazon road by purchasing below).
#4 Feed Your Baby Before Bedtime
When hungry, your baby won’t sleep. Or, she might fall asleep but wake up crying for food right after you have peacefully drifted off. That’s why it’s a great idea to make sure your little one isn’t hungry.
It is best to feed newborns 10-20 minutes before bedtime so that milk or other food would digest well.
#5 Don’t Rush to Lull Her in the Middle of the Night
Instinctively, of course, we want to run to our baby at the first peep he makes. But, if your baby wakes up – give her a minute to try to fall back asleep. For some parents, this might sound as bad advice, but self-soothing has already proven to be a good practice and is recommended by experts.
So, next time you wake up in the middle of the night to your baby’s crying, wait for a little and give her time to fall back to sleep on her own. She won’t learn to do that instantly over one night, but if you continue practicing this, you will end up raising an independent child as well as having more sleep for yourself.
If waiting a few minutes doesn’t do the trick – I share all my secrets about sleep training in this ultimate blog post that you can check out!
#6 Avoid Eye Contact
Experts say that eye contact with a parent is very stimulating to babies. Yes, it’s great to gaze into your baby’s eyes when you are playing and trying to encourage interaction. It promotes bonding and brain development. But when you want her to fall asleep, you should avoid eye contact, as it might signal it’s playtime and push your baby out of sleepiness.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you must stare at the ceiling.
If your baby is lying in her crib, look at her tummy. If you take her up, hold her so that she would look behind your shoulder and gently soothe her back. This will help you get your newborn to sleep much more quickly.
#7 Use White Noise
Putting your baby to sleep in complete silence is not the best idea. Doing so, you create an environment in which your little one might easily wake up from any sound. Try to use a white noise machine or a white noise app instead. This not only will help your baby fall asleep to relaxing sounds but also will eliminate disturbances by other noises outside the bedroom.
You might be worried that your newborn will get used to white noise and won’t be able to fall asleep without it. But in reality, white noise isn’t dangerous or habit-forming.
#8 Control Daytime Naps
If you think you can play with your child all day long to keep her awake and make her physically tired, you have the wrong understanding of a baby’s sleep. Daytime naps are extremely important. However, if you allow your baby to sleep for too long during the day, you are risking to have her too active in the evening (hence, hard to put to sleep).
The best strategy is to encourage more naps but limit their length. The perfect length of daytime sleep is about 2 hours. So, if your newborn sleeps longer, you might want to wake her up purposefully.
#9 Keep Everything Low-Key Before Bedtime
It’s reasonable to start preparing your baby for sleep a few hours before the set bedtime to gradually reduce arousing her. For example, you might want to play some quiet games that are entertaining but not too exciting for her. Also, dim the lights in the house after dinner. And keep your child away from other members of the family watching entertaining programs or movies on TV on high volume.
#10 Make Sure Your Baby Feels Safe and Comfortable
You can do that by putting your newborn to sleep near you.
Experts say that babies sleep better in bassinets because they feel more enclosed and protected there.
So, put the bassinet in your bedroom. And to create an even cozier atmosphere for your little one, you can leave a bottle of hot water in her crib while rocking and swinging her in your arms. This way, your baby will associate the warm surface of her bed with the comforting warmth she feels when her parents are holding her.
Of course, setting up a safe sleep environment is extremely important to reduce the risk of SIDS and to keep your baby safe. Make sure that your baby’s crib or bassinet is free of blankets and stuffed animals. And, don’t forget to put your baby down on their back!
Baby sleep is something you’ll be dealing with a long time – but having the tools to help sleep better is invaluable within your parenting journey.