How To Get Your Baby To Go To Sleep And Stay Asleep
You can likely relate to the feeling of nap and bedtime attempts seeming like a never-ending task. You spend so much time trying to get your baby to sleep and then when you finally do, and you set her in her crib, bam she’s awake again.
It can be so frustrating when you just want to go to sleep yourself and help your baby get the sleep she needs. So how do you ensure that once your baby is asleep, she stays asleep?
There are a few different ways you can set your baby up for success by making sure all of the proper foundations are in place for her to get great sleep.
Here are five ways you can help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep:
1) Follow a consistent schedule that is appropriate for your child’s age. So often babies are not taking naps when they should be or following awake times that aren’t in-line with their development. A six-month-old for example, isn’t going to need to sleep as often as a newborn. And while setting a schedule primarily applies to babies four months and older, you still want to make sure your child is awake for an appropriate amount of time before attempting a nap, regardless of their age.
If you are trying to attempt a nap too soon, or you miss your child’s sleepy-awake window, it is likely he is going to refuse the nap all together, or only sleep for a very short amount of time.
Consistency from day-to-day with both naps and bedtime will help your child prepare for sleep and transition without too much resistance (so long as these times are appropriate).
You can find recommended awake window’s by age in this article.
2) Use white noise. It is a common myth that you need to tip-toe around the house while your baby is sleeping. In fact, your baby was so used to hearing loud noises inside the womb, it can feel odd for them once they are placed in a room that is completely quiet for sleep.
Now I’m not suggesting you vacuum the house and allow obnoxious sounds during rest. But I do encourage the use of a white noise machine or a fan to create some background noise during sleep. It can also help to block out any other sounds that are less soothing and more stimulating.
We have a few recommendations here of where you can find our favorite white noise machines.
3) Set up a healthy sleep environment. If your baby is sleeping in a room full of distractions, on-the-go, or in an inconsistent environment, it is no wonder he wakes up often. I highly recommend you have a space for your baby that is free of distraction and light and is a space specifically designed for sleep. This means not attempting naps in a swing, vibrating chair, or another area that wasn’t meant for long stretches of sleep.
While it is common for babies to fall asleep while in motion, you don’t want naps to be planned in those places. Sleep is healthiest when in an environment and space that is consistent and promoting of sleep. I always recommend crib sleep first for both safety and longevity of sleep.
4) Put your baby to sleep drowsy but awake. I am sure you have heard this a million times, and if so there is good reason. When your child is put down in the crib completely asleep, he is likely going to awake confused since his last memory was of you holding and soothing him. It is very difficult for babies to transition from one sleep cycle to the next, when their expectation is for a parent/caregiver to literally “put them to sleep”. That’s why it is best to always put your child down drowsy as opposed to fully asleep.
If you are thinking “well my baby will cry the moment I put him in his crib if he isn’t fully asleep”, then you’re not alone! This is very common, and in this case, you can still stay in the room to help soothe him back down, but you want to then try and do so while he is in his crib. Sometimes it also takes you removing yourself from the equation and allowing him to work it out on his own.
5) Find several soothing methods that work and cycle through them. If your child is waking early during naps or in the middle of the night, looking for that one “thing” to get her to fall back asleep, then she is likely conditioned to wake-up. What I mean by that is, she doesn’t understand that she has the capability of falling back asleep on her own because she is waiting for a feeding, a pacifier, to be rocked back to sleep, etc.
This habit typically forms when that one “thing” has been used as a sole method to get her back down. If this is the case you want to start introducing many different methods such as: re-swaddling (if still in a swaddle), re-positioning in the crib, encouraging a small lovely, shooshing up close to his ear, rubbing his head, or creating motion by placing your hand on his back or tummy and gently moving him back and forth.
The key here is not “giving in” to that one method that has always been used because that will only further the habit and make it more difficult for your baby down the road.
Remember that all babies respond differently, so while these five tips are a good place to start, keep in mind that not every child will respond immediately, and it will likely take some time before you see progress.
I encourage you to stick with it and continue trying different variations, so you can help your child learn healthy sleep habits and get more sleep yourself as well!