One of the hardest things about having a baby is figuring out how to get them to sleep better so that you can catch more shut eye. You might find yourself trying all the baby sleeping tips – I know I did.
Truth be told, most sleeping tricks are just that – tricks. They should great on the surface, but they don’t work. That’s because sleep is developmental, and no matter what we do, we cannot FORCE infants to sleep.
However, parents can use baby sleeping tips to help support and encourage healthier sleep habits and environments that will help your baby towards these developmental milestones. I tried it all, and what it really comes back to is the basics and the essential tips like creating a routine and keeping the room dark – they really work.
Keep reading to find out my favorite baby sleeping tips!
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10 Baby Sleeping Tips That Really Work
1. Swaddle from The Start
Swaddling is a traditional practice that helps babies sleep longer, but you have to be sure you use this practice safely. It makes sense that swaddling comforts babies; they are used to a cozy, snug, warm womb.
The wide open world feels strange and cold!
Swaddling is safe so long as you avoid swaddling too tightly, which puts too much pressure on their hips and other developing joints. You also need to remember to stop swaddling as soon as your baby starts to roll over.
Some experts recommend to stop swaddling around 8 weeks, even before your baby starts rolling!
You may have to try a few swaddles to figure out one that both you and your baby like. Let me share a few of my favorite choices.
Swaddle Me is perfect for newborns, and it’s easy to use in the middle of the night. They’re secured with Velcro, giving your baby a womb-like feeling, and these swaddles come in three sizes. When you’re half asleep in the middle of the night, you’ll be able to figure these out!
I’m a huge fan of the SwaddleMe Pods. These come in different stages to meet the needs of your babies, but these are even easier to use than the Original Swaddle.
They’re like little pea pods. Put your baby in the swaddle and zip it up – DONE! Everyone can figure this out.
If you prefer to use swaddle blankets, you can’t beat the softness and quality of Aden & Anais. These muslin blankets are soft and breathable, perfect for all seasons and last through multiple kids. Plus, you can use them to swaddle for months; their size makes swaddling even easier.
2. Keep the Room Dark
When our babies arrive in the world, their circadian rhythms, or biological sleep clock, isn’t developed yet, so we have to help them out. People often refer to this as getting their “days and nights” mixed up.
Since their clocks aren’t in sync with our world, we have to give them clues when it’s day vs night. Start by exposing your baby to natural daylight. When you wake up for the day, toss open all the curtains, and, if it’s nice outside, spend some time outside.
When evening arrives, keep the artificial lighting low and dimmed. We turn off the overhead lights and use only lamps and soft white lights.
Light is one of the cues that our brains use to tell us when sleepiness should arrive.
Keep your baby’s nursery as dark as possible. One of the best ways to do that is to use blackout curtains; try specifically looking for triple-weave curtains that block 95-100% of light. Not only do blackout curtains help reduce early wakes up in the morning, but it makes nap time more productive.
I recommend grabbing a set of these BGment Blackout Curtains. They use triple-weave technology, and each package comes with two panels with dozens of color and length options.
3. Use a White Noise Machine
The womb is far from quiet, so it’s not surprising that babies struggle to sleep in a silent room.
Many adults love white noise too. How many people do you know – perhaps even you – prefer to sleep with a fan running or their TV on low in the background?
I’ve always kept a white noise machine in all of my baby’s nurseries.
My favorite white noise machine for nurseries is the Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine. Not only is it a sound machine, but it also doubles as a nightlight for your baby. Later, it can be used to tell your baby it’s time to wake up for school!
4. Don’t Engage Too Much at Night
It’s tempting to want to talk and make eye contact with your baby in the middle of the night, but doing so makes them feel like they should be awake to hang out with you.
Nighttime feedings are an unavoidable part of having a baby, but keep the lights as dark as possible, be boring, and quiet. It can be hard because your baby finds you amazing, and you think the same thing about your baby.
Babies respond to a mother’s voice, so the more you talk, the more alert and awake they tend to become. Eye contact is just as engaging for infants! It basically is the same as telling them it’s time to get wild and have a party.
That’s definitely not what we want in the middle of the night!
5. Create a Bedtime Routine Early
Starting a bedtime routine with your baby isn’t some first-parent recommendation that doesn’t actually work. Science tells us that it does, so we need to integrate it into our baby’s life as early as possible.
Start your bedtime routine one hour before your goal bedtime. This is the time to help your baby feel safe, secure, and happy, avoiding any stressful situations.
A bedtime routine doesn’t have to be complex, but it should be the same each day. Start by turning the lights down lower and keeping the rooms dimly lit.
Then, incorporate things you want for your baby, such as bath time, lotion and pajamas, reading a bedtime book, cuddling, and more. Find a routine that is easy done every day and stick to it.
6. Avoid Overstimulation
We often forget that babies are brand new, and all the things are new and exciting. Everything they see and hear stimulate their senses, like new noises, smells, and sights.
Sometimes, we try to amuse and stimulate our babies with all sorts of toys, but if we overstimulate our babies, then it impacts their sleep.
Overstimulation makes it harder for your baby to wind down before bedtime or nap time. For example, if you head to the grocery store, it might take longer to go down for a nap because he needs more wind-down time.
7. “Top Off” Your Baby Before You Go to Bed
If you’re like you, you don’t go to bed as soon as your baby does. You need some time to relax and watch the latest episodes on your newest Netflix binge.
When you head to bed, dream feed your baby. This is easier done when you breastfeed, but essentially, you top off your baby and give them a full belly with the goal of giving you a solid stretch of sleep before the next wakeup.
8. Reduce the Length of Your Baby’s Naps
The saying to let a sleeping baby sleep isn’t always true. Sometimes, we can’t let a baby stay asleep for too long, or it will make bedtime even harder for that baby.
You want to make sure your baby isn’t taking a super late nap that might postpone bedtime. They need to have a solid chunk of awake time before bedtime.
Often times, sleeping problems are a result of poorly planned and structured nap times.
9. You Don’t Have to Change Every Wake Up
I know I felt like I had to change my baby’s diaper every wake up, but changing wakes them up even more. It’s perfectly fine to change his diaper every other wake up so long as it’s only a pee diaper and not a poop diaper.
10. Be Realistic about Baby Sleeping
One of the most important baby sleeping tips I learned is that I need to set realistic baby sleep.
Sleeping through the night is classified as sleeping a five hour stretch. That’s right – it’s not sleeping 10 hours straight. As much as we would love that, STTN is only a five hour stretch.
A study completed by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 27% to 57% of 6 to 12 month old infants didn’t sleep through the night. Expecting infants to sleep through the night at three months is setting everyone up for failure.
Most of my infants have never slept through the night before one year old, and I think it’s best if you keep it realistic. Talk to other moms; you’ll find a huge range of what is normal!
Use these baby sleeping tips to help your baby get the best sleep possible. Remember, sleep is developmental, and all babies get there eventually! Your baby will as well.