Of all the problems new parents have, getting their baby to sleep is certainly the most common. After all, a newborn's natural sleep schedule isn't yet solidified and new parents are extra sensitive to this. They are the ones that have to deal with a cranky baby who either needs to be swaddled or changed at odd hours of the night. They are also the ones who are responsible for getting up and dealing with any other possible task that needs to be accomplished in order to make a baby's life hum. This makes it almost impossible for new parents to get a full seven to eight hours of sleep a night. In fact, it can be incredibly difficult for them to even function at all.
Thankfully, due to just how common this issue is, many parents have their own tips on how to get a baby to sleep efficiently, and hopefully for a long period of time. This allows parents to have their alone time or just get the proper amount of sleep needed to get up and do it all over again.
These tricks seem to have worked for the mothers who gave them, so hopefully, they will work for others, too. Without further ado, here are 20 sleep hacks that all moms need to know.
20 Strategic Lighting
Many moms on the Internet claim that the use of lighting can be a powerful tool in getting your baby to sleep, and sleep for a longer duration of time. Like most humans, the presence of lights triggers a baby's mind to turn on and kick into high-gear, whereas darkness does the opposite. In fact, it actually triggers the brain to release the sleep hormone, melatonin.
A trick to use light and darkness to your advantage when getting a baby to enter the land of dreams: allow plenty of sunlight in the house during the day. If that's not possible, make sure the baby gets outside. Even nap time areas should be very well-lit. However, the night routines should consist of far less lighting than the daytime to trick the baby into preparing for sleep. Essentially you need to set the mood.
Even when a child wakes up in the middle of the night, don't turn a lot of lights on, that will make it harder for them to get back to sleep.
19 Use A Tissue
Babies seem to absolutely love a nice soft tissue. They love them so much that some parents can actually use tissues to help coax a baby into sleep. This is done when a parent gently rubs a soft white tissue over a baby's forehead and face during the bedtime routine. Keep the action light and fluttery, almost as if you were running your fingertips along a baby's soft cheek over and over again.
This ritual, similar to massage, will help to relax a happy, bringing their energy down to a level where they can actually have an easier time sleeping.
Many parents swear by this method, although it may take some time to perfect. Even if it doesn't work for you, it's a great way to lower a baby's energy level, which is vital if he or she is going to get adequate rest.
18 Bath Time Before Bed
There's a reason why many adults like a nice warm bath or shower before they get into bed. Sure, that feeling when you're really clean and you get under the covers is basically better than any other feeling on earth; but bathing right before bed also helps us sleep.
The same can be said for babies who love to feel all warm and cozy as they get tucked in. The warm bath water will also lower a baby's energy which can be very helpful for getting them off to sleep.
When you do bathe your baby before bed, don't include the bath toys and fun that would go along with an afternoon or morning bath. Keep the energy really low. This includes your voice, as well.
Essentially, you want to treat this activity as if it were completely meditative. That way you will have an easier time getting the baby to go to sleep.
Almost everyone on the planet should attempt to incorporate exercise into their daily routine, even if it's just a little bit. Not only is it good for one's health, but it also helps people with sleep; use of the body tires one out. The same can be said for babies.
While some moms are sure to lift their eyebrows at this, every baby—including the non-mobile ones—needs a bit of exercise. But for them, that word means the opportunity to move his body. This is why wearing a baby in a carrier can be so useful, as it allows a baby to move almost in tandem to their mother or father. This gives them the chance to learn how to properly balance their muscles. All of this tires a baby out and can help with getting them to fall asleep.
Once a baby can crawl or even walk, exercise is an even more useful way of getting a child to use up all of their newly found energy.
16 Don't Sleep Train Too Early
One problem that many new parents get into regarding getting their son or daughter to sleep is the fact that they start sleep-training too early. The key is to wait until at least four months into a baby's life before you start doing anything serious. This is because a child is not yet ready to begin the process as they haven't found the right sleep rhythms yet. Their schedules are completely askew. One of the reasons behind this is that babies tend to sleep a lot, as well as inconsistently.
Though a parent may be desperate to get this child to get to sleep in order for them to do the same, they may just have to suffer through until their child reaches the four-month mark. At that point, they will be more receptive to learning healthy sleeping habits.
15 Lower The Temperature
A lot of adults prefer to sleep when the room is colder. They love the feeling of snuggling under the sheets and curling up to keep warm. It's similar to how a baby curls up inside a mother's womb. But evolutionary psychology suggests that people like sleeping in colder temperatures because humans were far more accustomed to sleeping when the sun goes down than they are today.
Newborns react better to cooler temperatures when falling asleep as well. This is because the brain signals that it's time to sleep as that's what has been ingrained on humans for millions of years of evolution.
Turing the thermostat down by a degree or two at night will help get your baby to chill out and start to be more open to falling asleep.
14 Swaddle Them
Newborns love being "baby burritos." They love it because it reminds them of being inside their mother's womb. After all, they are not yet used to having so much space to move around. Swaddling them is an easy thing to do. And it's so nice for them to be all wrapped up and snuggled like that. Heck, even adults love to feel all cozy like that. It's one of the reasons we love tucking in our sheets when making out beds. We subconsciously are replicating this womb feeling even into the latest years of our lives.
Up until the age of four or five months, babies also have an innate startle reflex. This means that they feel as if they're falling. The sensation causes a baby to wake up from even a deep slumber. But by keeping a baby swaddled, it prevents them from making a movement and thus, feeling like they're falling, and thus waking up.
13 Limit Naps
Although it may be difficult to wake a baby while they are sleeping throughout the course of a day, it can be absolutely necessary for trying to get them to sleep at night. Just like anyone, the more a baby sleeps, the less tired they are. This is especially true when it comes to those who sleep during the day and then try to sleep again at night.
A baby is naturally going to sleep more, and that's a good thing. But if a baby is napping during the day—for more than two hours at a time—it's a better idea to wake them up, even if they get cranky. This will help get them into a better sleep rhythm and also help a parent be able to get along and uninterrupted sleep.
There may be a few exceptions to this when a baby is overtired, but for the most part, this is a solid trick to get them to fall asleep when they should.
12 Pre-Bed Routines
Babies thrive on structure and routine. This is something that almost all new parents know. Predictability is a power most parents can use to their advantage when it comes to getting babies to do the things they want them to.
If a baby starts getting used to certain things a parent does before they are supposed to sleep, they will have an easier time actually falling asleep. Examples of actions that a parent could include in their routines are placing their child in a sleep sack, closing the curtains, wearing certain colors, playing or singing certain music, as well as simply making sure that a baby is in the room that he or she will be sleeping in the most.
11 Massage Them
Another thing a parent can do in order to get their kid to fall asleep or incorporate into their baby's bedtime rituals is to massage them. Most humans react really well to massages. After all, it's one of the world's oldest forms of relaxation.
According to a study done at the University of Miami Touch Research Institute, a bay who has been massaged for about 15 minutes before bedtime has a much higher chance of falling asleep than babies who haven't received a massage at all.
Using some baby-safe oil will also help them fall asleep more easily. And remember, soft strokes and gentle pressure is far better for them. They aren't ready for deep-tissue massages just yet.
10 Refrain From Eye Contact
Many mothers claim that by not making eye contact with a baby for as long as 20 minutes before they are supposed to go to sleep, actually helps their babies to drift off into a dream world. Even senior parenting adviser at Zero to Three, Claire Lerner, claims that this is actually a valid trick in getting a baby to fall asleep.
This is because a baby automatically gets wired and excited by making eye-contact with someone, especially their mother. Their brains react to eye-contact and tell them that it's playtime and not sleep time. Generally, the more interaction that a parent has with a baby before they are supposed to fall asleep, the more of a chance that a baby will actually remain awake.
9 Late-Night Feeding
Although most adults stay away from eating late at night, especially those doing intermittent fasting, babies need to be fed far more. Parents therefore usually have them on a strict feeding schedule, but tend to avoid giving them too much before they fall asleep, because they wouldn't do the same for themselves.
But another trick for getting a baby to fall asleep and stay asleep for a longer period of time is to actually feed them before they go to sleep, or right before a parent wants to go to bed.
For instance, if a baby has a hard time sleeping, feeding them between 10pm and midnight may allow them to sleep for longer stretches and not wake up due to the fact that their stomachs are rumbling.
If you're going to try this trick, just make sure your baby's diaper is securely fastened.
8 The Power Of Deep Breathing
For thousands of years, people have been practicing deep breathing techniques, like those in forms of yoga and meditation because of the power behind it. Taking deep breaths is a great way of relaxing one's mind and body, even in times of incredible stress.
There's also a copious amount of science and research behind how these techniques help relax the body's muscles and ease people into a more calm state.
Due to the fact that babies are constantly picking up on cues, as well as studying those around them, it's not ridiculous to understand why the deep breathing trick works in helping them get to sleep.
Though they're not yet capable of consciously doing it on their own, they can watch a parent do it and perhaps mimic them. Even if they don't, the sound and rhythm helpful for them in getting to sleep.
7 Altering The Motion
Most parents automatically start gently rocking their baby when they are trying to sooth them or get them to fall asleep. Though this trick can be very effective to lull a baby into a deep slumber, it's a lot more effective when varying the rocking motion.
For instance, swinging a baby back and forth should be followed by gently moving them up-and-down, versus constantly swinging them in the same direction over and over again. This is because the shift in motion distracts a baby enough for them to actually fall asleep.
So the next time you get up to comfort your baby, try gently changing things up just a little bit. You never know, it could help immensely.
6 Natural Fibre Jammies
Babies love to be all snuggled up in comfortable jammies and everyone knows this. This is why some grandparents take pride in creating jammies for their children's newborns. But some babies have particularly sensitive skin.
Having sensitive skin means that the synthetic fabrics that a lot of baby jammies are made out of can actually cause them irritation, which prevents them from sleeping. However, natural fibers, such as cotton, are a far better choice to wrap around the sensitive skin of a little newborn. Even the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are proponents of natural sleepwear for babies and young children. All in all, making sure your child is comfortable is not only going to benefit them but you as well.
5 Use Lavender
Although those who promote the use of essential oils and natural scents for treatment for mood and mental health will be disappointed, Live Science says there's actually very little scientific evidence behind how effective they are. But they will be happy to know that there isn't evidence that it doesn't help.
And a lot of people do find that scents like lavender and essential oils actually help their anxiety and general mood, and if it works for some people (and isn't proven to hurt) then there doesn't seem like there's anything wrong with trying it.
However, it should be noted that fragrances, including in laundry detergent, are absolutely NOT recommended for babies under the age of 6 months. This is because they still have very sensitive skin and exposing them to these things too early could actually cause more harm than good.
However, after about six or seven months, one could try a few drops of lavender oil on a tissue and putting near the crib while a baby sleeps. Although science is limited, it may be worth a shot.
4 Lay Them On Top Of You
There are many reasons why so many moms like sling-carriers and items along those lines. One of the main reasons is that it mimics the natural mammal experience where the young stay physically close to their mothers during the first few months of their lives.
Although, even a human baby does need a little bit of independence, a lot of mothers suggest that laying a baby on top of their bellies, or their partner's bellies, is a great way to help lull them.
The movement of the stomach when we inhale and exhale is similar to the swaying movement when cradling a baby. Additionally, skin-to-skin contact is another way to soothe a baby when in this position.
3 White Noises
On an online blog, one mother explained that her young baby absolutely loved to be dipped in the bathtub and the swimming pool. She found that the sounds of the waves were soothing to her young baby girl. After going to the pool, she also found that her baby would naturally be tired and want to sleep. This mom, therefore, found swimming pool white noises and played them for her child which actually helped her fall asleep.
White noise, in general, can be very effective when trying to get a baby to sleep. This is because when a baby was in the womb, they were constantly hearing a white noise; mostly from the sound of the rush of blood through a mother's veins. Therefore, they are actually used to the lull of this sound.
The next time your baby can't sleep, try playing some random white noise all through the night.
2 Putting Them Down When Drowsy, Not Asleep
Making sure a baby is in the right state of mind before putting them to bed can also be very effective when sleep training them. The best time to physically put a newborn down is when they are drowsy and not actually already asleep. This is because the act of putting them to bed when they are already asleep will probably cause them to wake up and have a harder time getting back to their dreams.
The key is to try and gage just how tired your baby actually is. It might take some experimenting, but finding the right moment to actually put a baby down could prove incredibly effective. Essentially, timing is everything in the life of a baby.
1 Don't Constantly Tend To Them
It's so hard for a parent to watch or listen to their baby while they are seemingly struggling. Because of this, parents have a tendency to go and tend to their newborn whenever they hear a peep out of them.
Sometimes it's far more effective to let a baby cry a little and fall back to sleep naturally. Eventually, most babies will tire themselves out. However, it's important to intervene before they escalate into a full-blown temper tantrum. This is because you'll be catching them before they get themselves too energized to actually fall asleep. Lowering the sensitivity on your baby monitor is a great way to help you find that sweet spot between a little crying and screaming.
Sources: Cafe Moms, Parenting, Military Wife and Mom, Babble, Baby Love To Know, Baby Center, Organic Baby Atlanta, Live Science