A full night of sleep… its the holy grail during those early weeks and months of parenting a newborn. Anyone with children can attest to the fact that the sleep deprivation that occurs during this time takes a physical, mental, and emotional toll on everyone involved. Luckily there are a few things that you can do to help increase the likelihood that your little one will sleep through the night.
I wish I could title this article… how to get your baby to sleep through the night at 3 weeks old! But I can’t. Why? Well first off, babies won’t sleep through the night until they’re physically ready. Some little ones will be physically ready to sleep through the night at 8 weeks. Others won’t be physically ready until 6 months or even later.
Another factor involved is if you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Bottle-fed babies will generally sleep through the night at earlier ages than breastfed babies. You also have to consider in your baby’s personality, just like some adults are night owls or light sleepers some babies are the same way. So while some babies will sleep for long stretches early on in life with no assistance from their parent’s others will need a little more help.
Although there are elements of newborn sleep beyond your control luckily there are also several very simple things you can do to help your baby develop good sleep habits and build a good foundation. So that as soon as they are physically able to, they will be sleeping through the night!
1. Help avoid or correct Day and night confusion –
Many babies are born with their days and their nights mixed up. If you remember back to when you were pregnant, your little one was probably most active at night when you were trying to sleep. This is because they’re lulled to sleep during the day by your movements and are awake when you were laying down at night. If they were born at night or in the evening then it also contributes to day and night confusion
If your baby is wide awake and ready to play in the middle of the night then you’ll need to help them reset their internal clock. You do this by:
- Keeping the bedroom dark at night– When waking up at night for feedings or diaper changes keep their room as dark as possible. Turning on the bright lights will signal to your baby that it’s day time and time for them to wake up. Use a night light or small table lamp to provide just enough light for you to see what your doing will help keep your baby is a sleepy state and allow them to fall back to sleep quickly.
- Keep interaction to an absolute minimum during nighttime feedings and diaper changes – Resist the urge to cuddle, play, and talk with your baby. You want them to stay as tired as possible, interacting with them will only cause them to become fully awake and ready to play. Just change their diaper, feed them, and get them back to their crib.
- Use a noise machine – When your baby was in your belly they were constantly surrounded by sound. Not only the sound of your daily life but all of the sounds made by your body. White noise is comforting to them since it reminds them of the constant noise they heard while in your stomach and helps them sleep more deeply. I’ve always used an air purifier in all my kid’s room. Not only does this help with any dirty diaper smell but it also doubles as a white noise machine.
The goal here is to help your baby develop a proper circadian rhythm and to help them learn that day time is for playing and nighttime is for sleeping.
2. Keep your baby from becoming overly tired
If a baby is super tired then they’re going to fall asleep the second you put them in their crib right? Nope, sometimes the opposite is actually the case. If your baby is overtired there is a good chance they won’t fall asleep and instead become an inconsolable mess.
Newborns shouldn’t be awake for more than an hour at a time (you can add on about 10-15 mins each month)
The most common sleep cues are;
- Rubbing eyes
- Less interactive
- Drooping eyelids
As soon as you notice your baby doing any of these sleep cues then get them to bed before they become overtired and cranky!
3. stick to a daily schedule
Getting and keeping your baby on a schedule is one of the most important things you can do to help your little one sleep through the night. Having a consistent schedule will help their body develop its circadian rhythm and allow for their body to release sleep hormones at the proper times.
For newborns, my schedule was 60 minutes awake with a 2 hours nap and asleep for the night at 7 pm. So on a normal day it would look something like this;
6 am – wake up for the day
8 am to 10 am – nap
11 am – awake
12-2 pm – nap
3 pm – awake
4 pm – 5 pm – last nap of the day
6 pm – awake
7 pm – bedtime and “asleep” until 6 am
Now, this schedule will change slightly on a day to day basis but it’s the framework I tried to stick close to.
To quickly clarify what I mean when I say they are asleep for the night by 7 pm. Once 7 pm hits any feeding or diaper change that happens after that time is when I keep their room as dark as possible and I keep interaction to a minimum during feedings and diaper changes. This helps teach them that night time is for sleeping and not being awake playing. Once 6 am hits (or whenever they are “awake” for the day) lights are on and its time to play and interact.
During the early months you may feel like a slave to your baby’s nap schedule and begin to get restless, but just remember that sleep is vital to their development. And if you can keep your baby on a good schedule and keep them from becoming overly tired during the day then you can help them establish good sleep habits. And those schedules and good habits are vital to getting them to sleep through the night once they are physically ready.
4. Stick to a bedtime
If you want your baby to sleep through the night then I cannot stress this enough, stick to a bedtime. Although technically I already talked about this I think it’s so important it’s worth stressing again. Pick a
For us, it’s
Although it might not be fun to make sure you’re home every night at 6:30 pm get them in bed on time, that structure and constancy is key to getting your baby to become a good sleeper.
5. use a swaddle
Have you ever seen a little baby throw their hands and legs out into the air, almost like they were just startled? It’s caused by a reflex called the Moro reflex (or the startle reflex) and it can happen as a response to loud noises or for no reason at all. This reflex is present in all newborns until they reach between 3-6 months and can easily wake a baby out of a deep sleep. Swaddling during nap times and at night helps to prevent this reflex from happening and waking them up.
Swaddling also provides your baby with a sense of comfort and safety. When they were in your belly they had their arms and legs tucked in close to them. Swaddling provides them with a similar sensation, helping them fall into a deep sleep more easily.
Picking a swaddle blank is all about personal preference and what works best for your baby. For my oldest, I used these Carter’s Swaddle Blankets. For my other two boys, I needed these SwaddleMe Original Swaddles with velcro on them since they both liked to try and break free of their swaddle.
6. allow your baby to self soothe
Now this one might be a little controversial but I think
There are a lot of different methods out there and what you decide on is really going to depend on what works best for you and your baby. But the general idea of it is that you allow your baby to cry for a short amount of time before you pick them up and soothe them. Then slowly increase that amount of time until they are able to put themselves to sleep without help from you. Most babies are ready to start self soothing at around 3-4 months old.
Do your research and be willing to try a few different methods until you find the best one for you and your baby.
What if nothing seems to be working?
If you’re having trouble getting your baby to sleep, they’re crying inconsolably at night, refuse to sleep regardless of what you do, or seem like they are in any sort of pain make an appointment to talk to your child’s pediatrician. There could be an underlying medical issue that’s affecting their ability to sleep.
Take the time to help your baby develop good sleep habits very early on is the key to getting your little one sleeping through the night. Although it’s not easy you’ll be so happy you stuck with it when you’re getting a full night’s sleep!!
- 7 Easy Ways You Can Help Your Toddler Prepare For a New Baby
- 5 Ways to Manage Eczema In Babies and Children
- 11 Things You Need To Know As A First Time Mom
Love it? Pin it!