10 Tips for Getting a Newborn to Sleep
“How can I get my newborn to sleep?” is perhaps the most common question that has new parents scratching their heads. Newborns are complex little beings and almost never take to a set sleep schedule right away. The good news is that interrupted newborn sleep is perfectly normal. Your little one is learning, and growing, and doesn’t want to miss a thing. There are, however, tips and tricks you can try to make putting your newborn to sleep a bit easier.
1. Swaddle to Get Your Newborn To Sleep Through the Night.
Swaddling typically starts in the hospital and often continues through the first several months of a baby’s life. This soothing technique has been proven to help newborns sleep through the night, and babies who are swaddled tend to cry less than babies who are not swaddled. In addition to keeping your little one warm and toasty in those early months of life, swaddling also keeps your baby from being disturbed by her own startle reflex.
2. Use White Noise When Putting Your Newborn to Sleep.
If you notice that your newborn tends to fall asleep in a noisier environment as opposed to a completely silent environment, she will likely benefit from a white noise machine. White noise can drown out household sounds such as older siblings, pets, and the television. Some white noise machines even have a heartbeat setting to mimic a mother’s heartbeat, which is very comforting to newborns as they sleep at night. The volume should be just loud enough to drown out any background noise. If the sound is too loud, then the machine, itself, will become a distraction.
3. Wait a Moment.
Babies make many noises while they sleep at night and often times these sounds can resemble a brief cry. By going into your baby’s room every time you hear a noise, you may be preventing a natural sleep cycle. Give your baby a chance to “work it out” before rushing to her aid. Of course, always use your best judgment as to when to check on her, and if her cry is persistent, then you will want to intervene.
4. Teach Your Newborn to Sleep.
If you can get in the habit of putting your newborn to sleep while he is drowsy but still awake, then you will begin to teach him how to put himself to sleep. Like adults, babies go through several cycles of wakeful periods during the night. Adults can put themselves back to sleep with no issue. For babies, this is a learned skill. The sooner your baby can fall asleep on his own, the sooner your baby will sleep through the night.
5. Dream Feed Your Baby.
Another tip for getting your newborn to sleep through the night is to Dream Feed. Dream Feeding is a technique in which you feed your baby while he is still asleep, and just before you go to bed yourself. The reasoning behind it is your baby will stay asleep longer and not wake later in the night due to hunger. You can Dream Feed by breastfeeding for bottle-feeding. Gently pick up your sleeping baby, and place the bottle or breast on his lower lip. Be careful not to wake him. When your baby is finished feeding, you will want to sit him up for a few moments to allow for any burps.
6. Be Strategic with Diaper Changes.
Changing your baby’s diaper can be a stimulus for your little one, making it difficult for her to go back to sleep. If diaper changing is revving up your baby, you may want to choose to limit changes to just poopy diapers and diapers that are exceptionally wet. Lightly wet diapers can wait until the morning. The tradeoff will be longer, more uninterrupted sleep at night for you and your baby.
7. Use Night Time Rituals.
If you create a consistent, yet boring routine, it is more likely that your newborn will sleep through the night. A bath, reading a story, singing a lullaby, or rocking for a few minutes are great ways to consistently wind your baby down for bedtime.
Many babies will prefer a specific sleepwear item to provide feelings of comfort, safety, and security as they head to bed. Medical studies have shown that babies sleeping in wool sleepwear settle more quickly, cry less, sleep longer, and even feed better. Woolino products are an excellent option as they are made with the “Magic of Merino Wool,” and the benefits are countless.
Putting your newborn to sleep with a predictable nighttime ritual will also come in handy down the road when your baby begins to go through sleep regressions.
8. Be Aware of Food Sensitivities.
Exposure to different foods and flavors begins in utero, and your baby’s ability to process certain foods will develop and get stronger throughout the first year of his life. As your baby grows, he may develop one or more food sensitivity. This is especially true in breastfed babies. For example, a newborn baby may have a difficult time digesting garlic or other spices within breast milk. If your baby is crying, arching her back, and has a stiff belly, then she may be experiencing a food sensitivity. The good news is that these symptoms typically pass after a bowel movement.
Once you identify which food caused this discomfort, you can eliminate it from your diet while breastfeeding. This should ensure that your baby will sleep at night more comfortable and uninterrupted.
If your baby is at least 6 months old, and you have concerns related to how solid foods may be interfering with her sleep, please refer to "How Certain Foods Can Affect Your Child’s Sleep."
9. Stay Calm.
Putting your newborn to sleep while you are frustrated is not the answer. Babies have an amazing ability to detect when a parent is experiencing stress, and they do not like it one bit! If your crying baby has you feeling tense and anxious, your little one will likely feed off of this emotion and become even more upset. Try taking slow deep breaths as you comfort your baby. Your energy will set a peaceful tone, and your baby will feed off of your positive, calming vibes.
10. Dress Your Baby Appropriately.
Overdressing a baby can lead to overheating which has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Babies do not have the ability to regulate their own body temperature like adults do, so it’s important to make sure they’re not overheating, especially sleep at night. Babies who are too warm or too cool will undoubtedly wake up. You can avoid this issue by dressing your baby in garments made from all-natural fibers like cotton, linen, or merino wool, which are breathable and absorb perspiration.
We suggest Woolino products, as they are made with supremely breathable merino wool and have unmatched body temperature regulation properties. This means a better, healthier, and safer sleep for your baby. If the temperature in your baby’s nursery in a concern, please refer to "Keeping Your Baby Cool During Hot Summer Nights.”
It’s important to remember that although there are many different ways to put a newborn to sleep, sleep routines are very child-specific. Children will experience changes in their sleeping habits, and most of the time these changes will be perfectly normal. However, if something doesn’t seem quite right, and you are still struggling to find answers, we recommend consulting with your pediatrician.