7 Tips to Help Your Newborn Sleep Like a Baby
Simple tips, tricks and solutions for those early “How’s the baby sleeping?” months.
The first few weeks and months with your baby are a wonderfully weird mix of love-filled days and sleepless nights. Just remember, your baby’s new here (like, to the world) so it might take them a little while to figure out the whole sleeping-through-the-night thing. In the meantime, we’re here for you with tips and tricks to try, along with some slumber essentials to help turn your baby into a Sleep Superstar.
1. It’s never too early for a bedtime routine.
Okay, maybe the first night at home is a little early (you’ll just be happy to see your own bed). But establishing your baby’s bedtime routine during their first month will help set up everyone for a better night’s sleep – maybe even two in a row.
You see, routines are how your baby starts to figure out the difference between day and night (and which one is for longer snoozes). While your newborn is trying to figure out their schedule, you can help remind them it’s time to settle down with some simple sleep associations:
- Gently rock them to sleep
- Close the curtains in the room where they sleep
- If you talk, use a soft voice
- Turn on a soother that plays white noise or peaceful music
Try working some of these calming tricks into your baby’s bedtime routine, which usually takes around 15-30 minutes. But if your little one starts fussing, you might want to speed things up to help them get to sleep quicker (and happier). Just remember, consistency is key.
A predictable pattern that gives your baby a heads up that it’s time to wind down is BEST.
Time for Bed
2. Sleep tight with swaddling.
Research shows that when done properly, swaddling can help your newborn fall asleep faster (good), increase quiet sleep (better) and decrease wake ups (great!). Plus, there’s nothing cuter than a baby burrito. Remember to always swaddle your baby “hands up”, close to their heart, for prime soothing. And once your baby begins to roll, stop using the swaddle blanket. Babies grow out of swaddling between two and four months of age.
3. Jump on those sleep cues.
Wouldn’t it be great if your baby could just say, “Hey, I’m sleepy!”? Well, they kinda do. Yawning is the most recognizable way, but not all babies yawn when they’re sleepy. Though most babies have their own unique sleep cues, here are some common ones to look for:
- Eyes turning red
- Irritated skin around eyebrows
- Red, blotchy cheeks
- Breaking eye contact and staring off into space
- Tense body
- Hard crying
An infant 0-3 months old has up to 15 minutes from the time they start showing sleepy signs to missing their sleep window. (That’s the sensitive time right before they fall asleep.) So, when you get the cue from your baby, start the soothing ASAP. It’ll be much easier for both of you.
4. Don’t get up yet.
Hearing your baby fuss or grunt during the night doesn’t always mean they’re ready for another feeding. Try to wait and see if they can self-soothe and settle back down on their own. (We know it’s not easy).
Also, consider a tabletop soother for your baby that lets you provide some comfort from your smart device. A press of a button will turn on familiar music or soothing sounds to help comfort them back to sleep.
5. The art of self-soothing.
The more chances your baby gets to practice self-soothing, the quicker they’ll learn to fall asleep—and stay asleep—day or night. Naptimes count, too. Here are five self-soothing signs to look for:
- Clasping their hands and bringing them to the middle of their body.
- Bringing hands & fingers to their mouth to suck on.
- When held facing you, your baby will snuggle their face into your chest, neck or armpit for comfort and settling.
- Beginning to roll onto their side or tummy
- The self-soothing cry: when your baby makes mild, fussing sounds for several minutes (this sounds different than a hard cry).
6. Teaching your baby to sleep (longer)
If your little one is waking up every 30 minutes to 2 hours and needs to be rocked, fed or held to go back to sleep, now might be a great time to work on lengthening their sleep schedule.
These episodes of waking up and needing attention are your baby’s way of letting you see their sleep associations and dependency on you. If they need to be fed or held to sleep, try these tips to help settle your little one into a pattern of self-soothing:
- Feed your baby 20-30 minutes before bedtime instead of right before they go down
- When baby gets sleepy (but not all the way asleep), place your baby in their sleep spot and pat and shush to help them settle in
- If baby begins to fuss, pick them up, rock them back to a drowsy state, and try again to pat and shush them to sleep in their sleep spot
- Repeat this cycle 3-5 times for around 20-25 minutes
Try this cycle again the following night so you can start to introduce a consistent, gentle way to get your little one to sleep through the night.
7. What about sleep regression?
It’s not as serious as it sounds, promise! Right around 6, 9 and 12 weeks, your baby will go through three big developmental phases.
Good news: Your baby’s more alert as they focus on your face when you talk or laugh.
Not-so-good news: These new developments will make it difficult for your little one to sleep. Even if they were getting into their sleep groove before, expect more waking and more feeding, too. (Reaching milestones builds an appetite!) That’s Sleep Regression. Take heart, it doesn’t last.
Research shows that during this time, babies will be at their fussiest and may even need more help to settle, soothe and sleep. So, what can you do? Give your baby what they need during these weeks of developmental growth, including lots of snuggle time before bed. Who doesn’t love extra snuggles?! Before you know it, they’ll be less fussy and back to sleeping better again.