There are few sights as heartwarming as your newborn sleeping soundly. But getting to that point at bedtime can be a struggle. Sometimes, your little one just will not want to sleep at bedtime!
It can be overwhelming trying to get a fussy baby to sleep—especially when you’re exhausted yourself. Luckily, within a few months your baby will start sleeping for longer stretches, and you’ll both fall into a comfortable routine. There’ll still be hurdles (like when your little one starts teething, or comes down with the sniffles) but bedtime won’t be the hassle it once was.
In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to help your baby get to sleep easier, and ensure he or she is comfy, safe, and snug.
Spot Sleepy Signals
Your baby has had a big day—so many new things to see!—and he or she will let you know when it’s time for bed. Look out for signals like eye-rubbing, yawning, stretching, and/or staring blankly into space. Toys won’t seem as interesting any more, either.
You might hear some “advice” from family or friends that it’s best to keep your baby awake longer—that way he or she will sleep longer, right? Sorry, that’s just not true! By putting your baby down earlier, you prevent overtiredness, allowing him or her to doze off quicker and sleep for longer. That means more sleep for mommy, too!
Clean Diaper? Check!
Check that your baby’s diaper is clean and dry before putting him or her to bed, even if you’ve recently changed it. If your baby is fussing, this could be the reason why. Just think how uncomfortable it would be to sleep in wet underpants!
Sleeping in a wet and dirty diaper can also leader to diaper rash. Most babies will develop diaper rash at least once and this doesn’t make you a bad mom, but you can help minimize the risk.
Dress for Dreamtime
The clothes you dress your little one in can help establish a nighttime routine. In the morning, dress him or her in a daytime outfit, and swap this out for some cozy pajamas before bed at night. (We acknowledge this is easier said than done with an extremely wriggly moving target.) Your baby will start associating pajamas with bedtime, so the ritual of dressing in them signals it’s time to go to sleep.
Nighttime is Sleepy-time
Keep the lights low when you stagger to the crib for a nighttime feeding. Try not to engage your baby by singing or talking (you’ll probably be so sleepy that you don’t want to, anyway!) and don’t make eye-contact. With any luck, he or she will go straight back to sleep.
By contrast, when your baby wakes from naps in the daytime, you can be excited and ready to play! He or she will start to recognize the difference, making future bedtimes less of a fuss.
Soft and Soothing Sounds
Every baby is different, but many sleep better when their room isn’t completely quiet. A noise machine, fan, or soft music can help soothe them and ease them off to sleep. You can even download free white noise apps on your phone—ideal for nights away from home.
Arms Are for Hugs, Crib Is for Sleep
It’s lovely to snuggle or rock your baby in your arms before bed. But if you let your little one fall asleep in your arms too often, it might be difficult in future for him or her to get to sleep without being close to you. As soon as he or she looks drowsy, it’s time to go in the crib!
Back to Sleep
To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), always put your baby down on his or her back. When a newborn sleeps on their stomach, they can’t always get enough oxygen and can suffocate. After about four to six months, when your baby has developed the ability to roll freely, most experts agree it’s okay to leave them if they roll onto their tummy in their sleep. Still, put them down on their backs just to be sure.
Stick to a Routine
Try to establish a simple routine like bath, boob/bottle, book, and bed. Make sure your partner is on the same page, and tell any babysitters the scoop as well. It helps baby to know the drill, so there’s no surprises at bedtime.
What works for one baby may not work for the next. Discover what helps your baby to sleep, and stick with it. Sleep tight, little ones!