The Sandman with his magic dust and sweet dreams is a late-night guest any parent would love having over - chatting over a cup of moonlight and dancing with the stars. However, a baby’s screams can scare even mystical creatures away and leave moms and dads to deal with the monster… in the baby crib.
Putting an infant to sleep can be challenging. We all know stories about creatures of the night (ahem, babies) crying hysterically before bedtime. It’s no surprise that experts suggest different sleep strategies that can help parents put their baby to sleep.
Nevertheless, it takes some time to get used to your baby’s needs and help them sleep through the night. But don’t worry – parents admit that there are sleep solutions to any parent’s nightmare. What’s more, you have a human being, not an owl - babies as young as three months can actually sleep for 6-8 hours at a stretch.
Joking aside, sleep is essential for the whole family and it’s normal to wonder how to put your baby to sleep. So - from doing some baby yoga to creating a soothing environment - here are 20 tricks that can help you fight sleep deprivation and have a happy baby in the morning.
Trust us, it works. Just get your cup of coffee and continue reading!
20 Take It Easy
Sleep is crucial to help human beings restore their energy and improve their bodily and brain functions. Therefore, it’s important to help an infant sleep through the night. Do not expect your baby to sleep from 8 to 9 hours straight away, though. It will take some time for your bundle of joy to get used to the outside world but gradually they’ll be able to sleep for longer stretches at a time.
So, take it easy, mama. Most babies are ready to sleep through the night at 3-6 months. What’s more, before you put your baby to bed, help them calm down. A warm bath can be very soothing. Mini SPA for babies!
19 Magic Lights
Experts reveal that newborns (as young as one month) can differentiate night activities from daytime fun. It’s not a secret that babies need lots of naps during the day and a good beauty sleep at night. Nevertheless, it might take up to a few months (even a year) to help a baby sleep through the night. Sleep expert Kira Ryan told the Bump, "There’s a huge range for when babies sleep through the night. It could be anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 months, but usually around 4 months, sleep starts to consolidate."
Therefore, one of the most important tips is to use light strategically to induce sleepiness. Dimmers and fluorescent stickers can help your baby sleep peacefully through the night.
18 Loving Environment
Bedtime routines can encourage your baby to fall asleep easily. A warm bath, cute pajamas or a cuddly teddy bear – kids start to develop everyday habits and associate objects or rituals with certain activities. Falling asleep in a familiar environment can be very soothing.
Sleeping in different beds for babies is like sleeping in a hotel room for adults. Hard, right?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the baby’s sleep area should be in the same room as his or her parents for the first 6 months of life to reduce the risk of SIDS. At the same time, experts do not recommend co-sleeping in the same bed.
17 White Noise
When it comes to creating a loving and safe environment, we should respect our baby’s sleep rhythms. Parents should turn all sources of annoying and loud noises off. Your little one might snore like an animal but they are not a party animal yet, so provide a quiet environment.
At the same time, it’s not about creeping around the house like a character from A Quiet Place. Familiar noises are totally fine. In fact, experts reveal that babies love white noise as it resembles sounds heard already in the womb. Believe it or not, you can turn the washing machine on to help your little one sleep!
16 Happy Lullabies
Music can also be soothing for babies. There are different compilations online that can help new parents put their baby to sleep. In fact, familiar noises and lullabies can be extremely helpful. As author Sarah Smith told motherandbaby.co.uk, "Don’t introduce your baby to anything unfamiliar in the run-up to bedtime… If she’s used to her big brother singing, she’ll keep sleeping... If she’s used to banging doors and creaking floorboards, those sounds won’t faze her. It’s unfamiliar noise that will wake her."
Well, although I'm terrible at singing, I always chant a few lines of our very first song before bed - the song I sang to her when we first met.
15 Get It Right
Getting enough sleep is not so easy. Personally, I’m a light sleeper and sometimes – even when my baby is sleeping peacefully – I spend hours and hours rolling in bed. It’s all about mastering the right timing.
In fact, getting the right timing is vital to help you put your baby to sleep. Do not even try to put an overexcited baby to sleep.
At the same time, putting your baby to bed when they’re already asleep is not a good tactic. Sleep consultant Kim West told babycenter.com, "Babies who drift off on their own are more likely to learn to soothe themselves to sleep."
14 Avoid Eye Contact
While many people are scared of vampires and other creatures of the night, nothing is scarier than a crying baby. Imagine yourself snuggled in bed, finally ready to close your eyes and about to snooze away. But then you hear some creaking noises from ITS room: first, they start rolling around in bed, then, there’s some heavy breathing, and finally – 3-2-1 - screams.
Do you know the myth about Medusa? Well, never look into her eyes or she’ll turn you into stone. While your cute baby is nothing like Medusa, never – we mean it, NEVER – establish direct eye contact before bed. According to pinkandbluemag.com, direct eye contact can overstimulate your baby, so save it for the day.
13 Hungry Or Tired?
It’s not a secret that newborns need a lot of energy and regular feedings for their tiny bellies. However, according to the National Sleep Foundation, by 9 months 70-80% of babies will be able to sleep through the night without eating.
Interestingly, experts claim that there’s no difference between breastfed and formula-fed babies. As expert Kira Ryan says, "Unfortunately there’s no silver bullet when it comes to sleep-inducing foods. Giving baby a half hour to an hour to digest milk or food - and even longer if baby is prone to post-feeding gas and reflux - can actually get the night off to a smoother start."
12 Gas & Nappies
Helping your newborn sleep through the night is vital. When it comes to nighttime activities, moms and dads can actually relax many rules, including the rules of diaper changes.
In fact, author Elizabeth Pantley told babycenter.com, "Resist the urge to change your baby every time he wakes up - he doesn't always need it, and you'll just jostle him awake. Instead, put your baby in a high-quality, nighttime diaper at bedtime... When he wakes up, sniff to see if it's soiled and change only if there's poop. To avoid waking him fully during nighttime changes, try using wipes that have been warmed in a wipe warmer."
Establishing bedtime routines might be tricky but it’s not impossible. Do not forget, though, that every child is unique, so do not rush things.
Personally, I was very determined to help my baby daughter sleep through the night. However, we had to wait for around 1-2 months before we started to spread out her night feedings. The reason? Well, although my daughter was born full-term and was very healthy, she was very small – weighing only about 5 lbs. So the pediatrician, a doctor who supports night training, suggested waiting until she was over 6 lbs, which wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, our munchkin is still not a big fan of eating.
10 Dream Feed
Another trick that can help parents put their baby to sleep is giving them a dream feed. According to babycenter.com, late-night feeding (10-12pm) can help kids sleep through the night. Just lift your baby gently without waking them up, feed them and put them back to sleep without burping them. Avoid waking them up or interacting with them.
Interestingly enough, another trick for older babies is to keep your baby (around 4 months of age) awake for at least three hours before bed. In fact, expert Kira Ryan says, "A baby who takes a four-hour nap in the middle of the day isn’t going to be ready for bedtime."
9 Co-sleeping: Pros & Cons
Co-sleeping is a controversial topic. While doctors say that co-sleeping in the same bed can increase the risk of SIDS, many parents admit that co-sleeping is a great bonding activity. Having a bassinet in your room can be your middle ground. As Martha, mom of seven, told the Bump, "I have the cot beside me against my bed, so there's no chance of rolling on top or overheating."
For us, though, co-sleeping was never an option. My daughter is so used to her bed that putting her in our room is just a torture for her. As doctor Rallie McAllister says, "Your baby’s crib should be her safe haven. This is what’s best - for her and for you – and what will help you both get the most sleep!"
8 Night Love And Colored Dreams
Letting your little one fall asleep on their own is crucial. Therefore, do not jump at every noise you hear. Wait a bit and give your baby a chance to go to sleep on their own. If things get worse, though, try to step in before your baby starts screaming. Talk gently and give love to your bundle of joy. It might be just a bad dream or a new tooth!
What’s more, do not forget that crying fits are normal, especially when it comes to bedtime.
Find the best way to meet your baby’s needs and help them have sweet dreams through the night. Sometimes all they need is more hugs!
7 Cry It Out
Sleep training methods can trigger scary social media feuds. Note that experts recommend starting sleep training around 4-6 months. Interestingly, there are two main methods: no tears and cry it out. While parents should meet their baby’s needs, as mentioned above, wait a bit before you step in.
Expert Kira Ryan says that crying fits help kids learn and deal with problems on their own. In the long-term, it pays off. Nevertheless, long crying sessions (more than an hour at a time, for more than a week) might be an indicator of a health problem.
6 Sleep Regression
Children are unique. While some babies are able to sleep through the night by 6 months, other infants won’t sleep until they’re 12 months old. Here we should mention the common phenomenon of sleep regression. According to babysleepsite.com, sleep regression is defined as a period of time (1-4 weeks) when a baby starts waking up and skipping naps at certain times. Usually, there are some ages during which babies and toddlers go through sleep problems: 4, 8, 11, 18 months, and 2 years.
A great method to deal with trouble sleepers is to offer them comfort without going back to old bad habits. My daughter, who's generally been a great sleeper, is going through the 18 months phase, so wish us luck!
5 Night Terrors
Another problem that can interrupt your baby’s sleep patterns is a phenomenon called night terrors. Experts reveal that sleep terrors are common in kids between 3 and 12 years and can be described as episodes of screaming and sleepwalking. Seeing your baby panic is scary but don’t worry. In fact, according to babycenter.com, 40% of children between ages 2 to 6 years old experience night terrors.
Note that your little one will be unaware of your presence, so just try to help your baby calm down and provide a safe environment. Your bundle of joy won’t remember anything in the morning!
4 Baby Yoga
Getting the timing right, as mentioned above, is crucial. Experts say that parents should be aware of any sign of sleepiness. As sleep consultant Kira Ryan says, "Pulling on their ears, rubbing their eyes and not making eye contact are all signs baby is tired. If they become very hyperactive and animated, it probably means they’re overtired."
A great way to help your kid calm down and stay healthy all at the same is to do baby yoga with them. On top of that, doing baby yoga is a great bonding activity which can help parents stretch their own tired muscles.
3 Safety Tips
When it comes to bedtime routines, one of the most important things to do is ensure a safe environment. Vital factors to consider are your baby’s sleeping position, crib, type of mattress, and smoke exposure. A safe environment can reduce the risk of SIDS.
Note that the AAP does not approve of the use of blankets, bumper pads, sheets, and big toys which might cover the newborn.
Also, do not let your baby sleep in a car seat or a baby sling for too long. The best option is to move your little one to a firm and flat surface.
2 Awkward Rest
Some newborns are like cats - they can fall asleep on the floor, on the TV, or - from personal experience- while eating. A wonderful trick that can help your newborn fall asleep is the Tiger in the tree method, which is also an effective anti-colic massage technique.
When traveling, on the other hand, unusual places to fall asleep can help. Yet, make sure you still follow your bedtime routines if possible. As dad Robert Nickell told the Bump, sticking to a routine is vital, "We even included a song and a walk around the room so we could say goodnight to all the animals. But once it was time for bed, we knew we had to be firm about the routine."
1 All For One
While the new member of the family is precious, new parents also need lots of emotional support. Thus, it’s crucial for family and friends to respect their needs and give love. On top of that, moms and dads must be equally involved in their baby’s sleep training.
In the end, babies love sleeping. Sleep expert Kira Ryan says, "Babies really enjoy having a bedtime. So much is happening to them every day: They’re being taken to different places, experiencing and learning new things. They’ll like having a set time each night where they know exactly what to expect."
So, get their favorite pajamas and leave your cup of coffee for the morning.
References: The Bump, Baby Center, Mother And Baby UK, Pink And Blue Mag, BabySleep Site, Caring For Kids