Discovery Point Blog

February 5, 2020

6 Tips for Better Baby Sleep

The phrase “sleeping like a baby” is thrown around quite a lot, but new moms and dads know that baby sleep isn’t always easy to come by. Every baby is different, which makes it difficult to make hard-and-fast rules that work for all infants. However, there are a few tips you may not have tried that could make a difference in your baby’s sleep life—as well as yours. Read below to learn about recommendations for getting your baby to sleep soundly.

Your Guide to a Restful Newborn

When it comes to finding what sleep techniques work for your baby, experimentation is key. That being said, consistency is also crucial. Often, it takes a bit of time to get a baby on board with a new routine or sleep strategy. Avoid giving up before you’ve really given any technique the chance to work its magic.

Tip #1: In the first few weeks, focus on your own sleep.

Infants spend most of their time sleeping. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean new parents can jump right back into their own sleeping schedules after returning home from the hospital. While newborns tend to sleep between 14 and 18 hours a day, they probably won’t be sleeping through the night. Some babies sleep for only an hour at a time, while others take longer naps throughout the day.

Since it’s hard to predict when you’re going to get a solid sleep in, try your very best to sleep when your baby sleeps. You may be tempted to use these moments for other things that you feel just HAVE to get done. But if you’re constantly running on empty, life is going to feel a lot more chaotic than it needs to. Remember that self care is especially important for new parents, so be sure to rest as often as you can.

Tip #2: Experience the magic of swaddling.

Swaddling is a time-tested way of calming babies down and helping them stay asleep. Since babies are born with something called the startle reflex, also known as the Moro reflex, they respond to changing stimuli in the environment by reflexively reaching out with their arms. 

This means sudden changes in light levels or noise could cause your baby to move in a way that wakes them up. Swaddling prevents this reflex, allowing them to sleep longer. Plus, it has the added bonus of keeping them nice and cozy.

Babies can be swaddled until they show signs of being able to roll over, typically around the 4 month mark. At this point, you can move on to a sleep sack, which offers many of the benefits of swaddling while helping babies transition to swaddle-less sleep.

Tip #3: Establish a bedtime routine—and stick to it.

Let’s be honest, even as adults, we fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly when they have a bedtime routine. After all, what’s better than a warm bath and a good book as a way to unwind and ease your mind into a peaceful time of rest? 

Babies also appreciate having the chance to ease into sleep. By around two months, it’s time to make sure you have a comfortable bedtime routine in place for your baby to get used to.

Start with a warm bath and a pre-sleep feeding time, then move on to soothing reading or singing and cuddling or rocking. The point of this routine is to allow your baby to start winding down while providing cues that it’s time for bed. 

Although it’s unlikely that it’s also bedtime for anyone else in the house, make a point of speaking in a low voice and dimming the lights. Keeping the baby in the same room for the majority of this routine can help prevent stimulating distractions.

Tip #4: Recreate a womb-like environment.

The term “the fourth trimester” has been popularized to help new parents understand that newborns are at their calmest when their environment reflects life in the womb. Comforting your baby with swinging, rocking, or bouncing movements mimics the motion they experienced in the womb. 

A baby shusher or white noise machine can also recreate the rhythmic sounds of this safe space — soothing newborns and providing a helpful sleep cue. In addition, these types of machines can keep your baby from waking up due to noises coming from siblings and other areas of the house.

Tip #5: Look out for signs of tiredness.

Have you ever been so tired you just can’t sleep? Babies also experience being “overtired,” which can lead to fussiness and crying that delays the sleep process even further. That’s why it’s critical to put babies down to sleep before they get overly tired. 

Look for signs like zoning out during otherwise stimulating activities, flailing movements, and hands balled up into fists as signals that your baby is getting sleepy and is ready for bed. If he or she is rubbing their eyes, yawning, or beginning to fuss, they may be moving into that overtired territory.

Tip #6: Put baby to bed before they fall asleep.

You may seem easier to get your baby to fall asleep in your arms and then transfer them to the crib once they’re asleep. In many ways, this method is easiest—at least in the beginning. However, doing so skips the crucial step of letting your baby learn how to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. 

When he or she wakes up later in the night, in a different location than where they initially fell asleep, they will likely become fully awake and cry out. Then, you’ll have to go through the soothing process once more making it less likely either of you will get a full night’s sleep.

Try getting in the habit of completing your new bedtime routine, then putting your baby into his/her crib while they’re drowsy, but not yet asleep. This may be challenging at first, but the rewards of teaching your baby to fall asleep on their own will last well into their childhood years.

If you’re having trouble getting your baby to fall asleep, don’t give up hope! Finding your child’s preferred sleeping methods can take some time, but with these tips, you may be well on your way to a better night’s sleep for both your baby and yourself.