One of the issues new parents talk about most is getting their precious babies to Go. To. Sleep!
While we love and cherish our newborn bundles of joy, we need to get some rest ourselves… and that can only happen when babies settle in for the night.
So while the task of getting your little one to snooze might seem daunting — it can be done.
Make sure you get enough rest. We all need to get a full night’s sleep, so try to prevent tiredness (which can result in daytime irritability) from catching up with you.
Remember: Crankiness isn’t good for anyone!
Here’s what you can do to help prevent being overcome with newborn baby-induced fatigue:
- Resist the urge to clean the house and fold laundry at the expense of a good nap (the housework will all still be there when you wake up).
- Delegate chores, including walks with baby, if that’s what it takes for you to have an uninterrupted nap.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule at least for the first year of your newborn’s life. It helps both you and baby.
Though babies go through many first-year milestones that will alter their sleep schedules (lifting their heads, sitting up, etc.) having a routine in place will make it easier for them to get back on track and back to sleep!
Here are the steps that can help you and your baby inch your way closer to restful nights.
Newborns have a rather limited understanding of the world. They eat, sleep, poop, cry, and then repeat without much consideration about whether it’s day or night. That is, until you help them learn the difference.
Newborn babies sleep for approximately
In order to help your little one learn about daytime versus nighttime:
- Allow for some noise and light during the day.
- Make sure to schedule some outdoor field trips to get them exposed to natural light, which helps their internal clock make proper adjustments.
- Get them used to napping with house sounds and keep the curtains partially open.
Nighttime sleep, on the other hand, should be in a quiet location, with lights off and noises kept to a lower level, if possible.
It may seem counterintuitive, but a tired baby won’t sleep better at night.
Newborns will sleep when tired, period. From 4 months to 1 year, most babies take two naps a day, but some super ambitious babies go for three or even four!
Nobody wants to deal with the retribution of waking a sleeping baby, but try not to let naps go past the 3- or 4-hour mark… especially the last nap of the day. It can interfere with nighttime sleep.
Journals can be a super helpful way to keep track of your baby’s naps and sleep times.
By recording the times and durations of naps, you can make note of any changes and patterns. And if you ever need to consult a professional about the little one’s sleep habits, the journal may become a handy reference tool.
Think of a bedtime routine as the gift that keeps on giving.
Having a schedule makes it easier for you to plan evening activities — like binge-watching that new Netflix show!
So where to begin?
- Give baby a bath, followed by a soothing baby oil massage.
- Dim the lights and give their final feeding for the night. But keep them upright to prevent them from falling asleep.
- Get comfy and snuggle together with a bedtime book. Just be sure to select one with lots of images and few words — and one that you can tolerate reading again, and again, and again.
- Sing or play a lullaby to make them drowsy. A baby should notice the transition to the bassinet or crib, but not stir enough to cry or wake up.
- Keep it short, sweet, and consistent. Knowing what to expect next will help keep your little one calm and feel safe as you exit the bedroom.
Try to avoid letting your baby fall asleep at the breast. Some babies take to weaning pretty well, but others make life a little *challenging* if you try to take the breast away from them.
Start this no-sleeping-on-the-breast process as soon as possible, as babies’ sleep routines typically get well-established by 4 to 6 months.
Whether you opt to have your baby in your bedroom or in a nursery, keep the routine consistent — even at 2 a.m. when determination levels are low.
It pays off in the long run as your baby begins to sleep for longer stretches.
Five hours of consistent sleep is considered sleeping through the night for a baby who’s up to 4 months old.
Having a routine typically gives adults a sense of safety and normalcy — and interruptions to that routine can be hard to handle. Babies are no different.
Just about anything can interfere with their sleep routines, including having a cold, teething, or traveling. So, do your best to keep their hours consistent and the steps leading to bedtime unchanged.
Some parents swear that letting their babies cry it out teaches them how to self-soothe and encourages them to become independent.
Opponents, on the other hand, argue that the cry-it-out method (also known as extinction method) can harm a baby’s sense of trust and safety.
Listening to an infant wail at the top of their lungs all night can also turn a process that should be calm and pleasant for both parent and baby into an anxiety-inducing nightmare.
That being said, the decision to use this method (or any other) is yours to make. Some babies adapt well to the method, while others don’t.
Some parents may choose to use the method for daytime naps but not nighttime sleep. During nighttime sleep training, the go-to recommendation is to check on baby if crying lasts more than a few minutes.
It would be wonderful if a simple go-to-sleep command would work on an infant, but that solution only exists in the dreams of every parent in the world.
Parents have to ensure a consistent routine that allows the baby to relax and feel safe. The good news is that most children will eventually sleep at night, unless medical issues cause them to have a troubled sleep.
Contact a doctor if you suspect a sleep disorder.
Remember that no matter how rough the road gets, or how close you come to wailing and crying in agony yourself, you can and will get your baby to go to sleep. You can do it!