Your baby is a beautiful new addition to your life. At night, your baby needs lots of sleep though, and so do you. There is often a great deal of disagreement between parents when it comes to the best ways for babies to sleep. Inexperienced parents are often desperate for guidance in this area, and experienced parents have a variety of different tips to offer. Here are just a few baby and newborn sleeping tips that may help you to develop a better sleep routine if you are currently struggling as a sleep-deprived new parent.
Develop a Regular Nighttime Sleep Routine
A regular sleep routine is important for people of all ages looking to improve their sleep habits. Try to put your baby to bed at the same time each evening or at least around the same time each evening. You can also regularly give your baby a bath before bedtime, or develop other regular routines that will help your child to realize that it is bedtime and wind down for the night. One of the best baby and newborn sleeping tips is to start getting them into a good routine from the moment you bring baby home.
Use Relaxing Music to Help Your Baby Sleep
Relaxing sounds and relaxing music are easy to find on music and video streaming apps. White noise machines and radios also offer options for a gentle sound that may help a baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. Research has been done about classical music and baby development and experts on the topic generally suggest that it is a good idea to expose a newborn to classical music, especially at bedtime.
Co-sleep Safely with Your Baby
There are many different options for new parents to select from when it comes to choosing a newborn baby bed. A crib is a classic option, but some parents find that co-sleeping helps their baby to sleep through the night better. There are beds for newborn babies that can allow both of you to sleep safely and securely without any worries if this is an option that interests you.
Breastfeed at Nighttime
A hungry baby will not be able to sleep through the night well in most cases. If you breastfeed your child, it is a good idea to do so soon before putting your newborn to bed. A full tummy will prevent him or her from waking up as quickly as to scream for another nighttime breastfeeding. The physical closeness while breastfeeding will also relax your baby. Even if you do not regularly or exclusively breastfeed throughout the day, you may want to try it at night to help with your baby’s sleep.
Read to Your Baby or Tell Stories
It is never too early to read to your baby. Babies and young children learn by example and early reading habits are best encouraged by reading to your baby at a young age. The sound of your voice is comfortable, familiar, and relaxing for your baby as well. Even if they do not yet understand the content of books and stories, these things can help them to fall asleep at night feeling positive and relaxed. Be sure to read in a gentle, calm, and even tone of voice so that you do not startle or wake a baby that is starting to doze off.
Avoid Exposing Your Baby to Digital Screen Time and other Stimuli Before Bed
It is generally considered a bad idea to put your newborn baby in front of the TV in order to get them to fall asleep. Too much screen time does not benefit the neurological or other development of a newborn baby. It is a better idea to use other tactics like calming music, gentle massage, and story time.
Joyce Kimber is an entrepreneurial writer. She always finds new ways to improve her work performance and productivity. Connect with her on Twitter via @joyce_kimber91.
Sleep training is one of those tough parts of parenthood. You either get it right or you struggle with sleep deprivation for many, many years.
Years ago, when I started researching sleep training for my first baby, there was so much conflicting information. I had no idea which method would work and so I resorted to good, old “trial and error.” Thankfully he was a pretty easy going kid who took to it wonderfully, unlike my second child. In an effort to avoid the stress of sleep training, I’ve started looking into sleep training consultants for advice with my third baby.
Sleep consultation sites like The Baby Sleep Site usually offer wide varieties of different options based on your sleep training needs, which can get really overwhelming (especially when you’re a sleep deprived parent who has no idea where to begin). And the last thing any parent wants to do is shell out money for a service that they’re not convinced is not going to be worth it.
Yes, it costs money. But for as little as $12/month – you have a valuable source of resources and information available at your fingertips. The Members Area comes loaded with e-books, articles, quizzes, downloadable worksheets and even a chat room.
One of my favorite features is the tele-seminars. They’re about half an hour long so you can listen to one while you’re cooking dinner or folding a load of laundry – perfect for busy moms who don’t have time to read through tons of articles!
Another great feature as a member is the custom schedule maker – which you can use as often as you need to as your baby grows.
The Members Area is a great tool for a parent who is just beginning to struggle with sleep training and needs some guidance on where to start.
But what if you need even more help?
What if you’ve read all the e-books and changed around your baby’s schedule 15 times just to try to make it work but they’re still not sleeping through the night?
It goes without saying that all babies are different, and some are definitely harder to figure out than others. That’s where the sleep experts come in. They’ve dealt with babies of all different temperaments and preferences before. Even a mother of three has only ever had to handle sleep training three kids – but sleep experts have handled sleep training thousands of them.
They offer both phone and e-mail consultation, depending on which you prefer. E-mail is a great option for busy moms but sometimes it really helps to speak to someone one-on-one. (They also offer an express sleep plan if you’re desperate for a good night’s sleep.)
The best part is, as a Member, you get a 20% discount towards the consultation package of your choice!
You can get more info about the other package options here but the difference is basically how many follow up e-mails you get (i.e. how much “time” you want to purchase.)
Beginning the consultation process is very simple but I would recommend setting aside enough time, free of distractions to complete the sleep history. It might also help to write down any notes about your child’s specific areas that you want to work on, what their schedule is like, and how they’ve responded to sleep training in the past.
Once you have an idea of what you need work on, you submit a sleep history assessment via the Help Desk. The questions are pretty straightforward and there are several places to elaborate further on what is happening specifically with your child.
It took me approximately 15 minutes to complete the assessment.
Prior to submitting your sleep history, there is an estimated chart of how long it will take to receive a response.
I submitted my sleep history on a Friday after 5 PM EST and received my personalized sleep plan on Monday morning!
The Personalized Sleep Plan
As a “researcher” myself, I didn’t have extremely high hopes for the personalized sleep plan. I felt as though I had read enough books and blogs, all of which had the same info, that there wouldn’t be much in the personalized sleep plan that I didn’t already know. (In the sleep history assessment, you have the option to select the level of detail you would like.I, of course, selected the highest level.)
I will admit that, upon receiving my personalized sleep plan, it exceeded my expectations. The key reason being – it’s personalized! I didn’t appreciate exactly what that meant until I received the sleep plan back from Nicole Johnson and her team of experts.
Let me highlight my favorite parts so that you can see what I mean:
Specific needs for my child based on the information I included in the assessment. For example, how much she should be sleeping or eating or napping based not just on her age but also on her temperament and history.
Daytime and nighttime routines based on her sleeping arrangements since my toddler and five year old currently share a bedroom.
A personalized mantra about my specific sleep training goals that I can repeat to myself on those rough, sleepless nights.
The day to day plan with precise steps to take each day, including how and what to prepare for before beginning the plan. (See image below)
All of these different things stood out to me in the personalized sleep plan. When I was doing my own research on sleep training, then it was up to me to create a plan based on what I learned and I truly had no idea if it was going to work for my child or not. Upon reading this personalized sleep plan, I found myself pretty confident that I could easily incorporate these changes, and more importantly, that my daughter would be comfortable with them.
The personalized sleep plan included actionable steps for me to take to correct my child’s sleeping problems, based on a number of different factors that I hadn’t even considered.
I still have my three follow up e-mails to use, which are good for 6 months. So as I incorporate these recommended changes to her schedule and bedtime routine, I will have help waiting if I encounter any problems.
Knowing that I have an expert in my corner has absolutely saved my sanity! I regret that I didn’t choose a sleep training expert when my second child was younger and I was battling such extreme postpartum depression. Perhaps it could have reduced the amount of stress and sleep deprivation I was experiencing then. But now, as a busy mother of three, sleep training is no longer an issue I need to stress about, thanks to The Baby Sleep Site.
How much would you pay for a good night’s sleep?
The largest obstacle I would see to most parents hiring a sleep consultant would likely be the cost associated. For this, it all comes down to priorities and how important the sleep is to you. In my case, sleep deprivation is a big trigger of postpartum depression relapses, and so I can’t afford to lose that war.
It’s important to keep in mind that what you are paying for is the time and service of a professional. I’m pretty sure I’ve paid the guy who fertilizes my lawn in the summer more money and that hasn’t gotten me very far in life.
So when I take all these things into consideration, the cost of a professional sleep consultant is worth it, in my opinion.
There’s a parenting image we need to get out of our minds – it’s that one where the parent puts the sleeping baby down in the crib and then does some elaborate dance to make it out of the bedroom without making a sound so baby doesn’t wake up…
The trick to sleep training is that it isn’t a trick.
In my personal experience, teaching a child how to go to sleep on their own is just as important as teaching them all the other basic life skills like brushing their teeth or tying their shoes.
Ideally children should learn to be independent sleepers and not need to rely on rocking, shushing or cuddling.
Leaving a baby to figure it out and cry themselves to sleep doesn’t teach them anything.
Part Two of the Sleep Training Guide is aimed at babies over 6 months old who tend to be more curious about the world around them and try to test their limits. Here are my best tips and advice for dealing with sleep regression, bedtime barriers, and staying positive throughout the sleep training process.
Between 4 – 6 months babies go through their first major sleep regression (and roughly every 3 months after that until they graduate from high school).
It may be related to new teeth, illness, change in environment or routine – or it could be caused by absolutely no reason whatsoever.
Trying to sleep train during a sleep regression is like taking one step forward and two steps back, so my advice would be to wait until the sleep regression is over and baby is back to their normal routine to start any major sleep training.
Check out this post from shrewdmommy.com for more information on sleep regression.
A Fuller Stomach
6 months marks the big achievement of solid foods!!! While your baby will be eating an array of new foods, keep in mind that they will still be very dependent on milk for the next few months so don’t expect a “fuller stomach” to suddenly help them sleep longer at night.
Adding new foods to your baby’s diet can also cause changes in their activity levels and bowel habits which could alter your routine as well.
Your baby will be much more efficient at eating and may not need that middle of the night feeding anymore.
An Overactive Brain
Baby is discovering so many new things and will be much more active during the day. They will learn to (if they haven’t already) fight sleep in order to stay awake and play longer.
Over and under stimulation can affect how your baby sleeps at night.
Unlike newborns who can sleep in any conditions, older babies tend to wake easier and may be particular about where and when they sleep.
Distractions can work for you here. Try a projection night light, sound machine, stuffed animal, blanket, book or anything that will take your child’s mind off the fact that they are deliberately fighting sleep. Try not to cuddle, rock or feed baby to sleep. The idea is that it should be something that can soothe them when you are not around.
The older your baby gets, the less sleep they will need during the day. Make sure that they have been awake for at least 2 hours before bedtime (and longer as they get older).
It’s important to give them enough stimulation and exercise throughout the day (fresh air always works wonders to help children sleep better).
You can spread out their naps during the day but you don’t want your child to be overtired. An overtired child is a cranky child and a cranky child is an uncooperative child. And trust me, you’re going to need their full co-operation at bedtime!
The Bedtime Protest
You want your baby to watch you leave the room and be OK with it. You can give baby a little rub on the belly and say good night and then walk out of the room.
Do not try to sneak out of the room. We don’t want to trick baby into going to sleep on their own. And the last thing we want is for them to suddenly realize that we’ve left them and then freak out.
Do not feel sorry for them because they are alone. Sleep is a natural part of life and their bodies know this. They will follow your lead so if you seem stressed or feel sorry for them they will sense that.
If they instantly start to cry,wait a minute or two to see if they settle down on their own.
If their cry intensifies, then go back into the room and assure them that you are there and that it’s bedtime. Try not to pick baby up right away, instead try another distraction.
If they seem very distraught and upset then pick them up, console them and once they are calm you can try again. You want to make sure that both you and baby are calm when you put them to bed. If you have to, nurse them again or read a short book but don’t force them to stay in their crib if they clearly don’t want to.
If you and/or baby start to feel overly stressed out by this routine then try again another night. We don’t want either of you to associate any negative feelings with bedtime. If this has gone on for 2 or 3 nights in a row then take a week off and try again.
Night Time Waking
If baby wakes up in the middle of the night – wait 1 -2 minutes and really listen to their cry before going to them.
If they are just fussing and still sound half asleep, continue waiting.
If they suddenly let out one loud cry or scream, wait a few seconds to hear if more follows.
If their cry starts to escalate then go in and reassure them, offer a distraction and leave the room again.
If they seem very distraught and upset, then pick them up, console them (feed them if necessary) and once they are calm you can try again.
The listening and waiting can be key to helping your baby go back to sleep on their own. Oftentimes babies cry in their sleep. I remember many nights where I lay in bed listening to my baby’s cry on the monitor, finally deciding to get up and go to them and as soon as I put my hand on their bedroom doorknob they went back to sleep. I learned to wait an extra 30 seconds the next time. Download the Baby Monitor 3G app if you have two compatible devices – a great option for travelling!
Bedtime battles can be so frustrating. Staying positive is so important, but it’s easier said than done. If babies and kids sense frustration or negativity at bedtime they will think of it as something to fear and they will fight you every time.
Consistency is key. Sticking to a bedtime routine means baby will know what to expect and when. Eventually, it won’t be so scary anymore – it will just be something that’s done every night.
Don’t pressure yourself if it isn’t working. Stress and sleep deprivation make for a bad combo. Take some time away from sleep training to get your positive energy back.
Sites like The Baby Sleep Site offer personalized sleep plans designed specifically for your child and focused on the areas that you need help with. Even if you choose not to purchase a sleep plan, you can become a member and access tons of great tools and resources available in their Members Area. Read my review of The Baby Sleep Site to get a sneak peek at what’s included in the Members Area and find out more information about their consultation packages..
Have you read PART ONE yet? Even if your baby is older than 6 months, you can still get some important tips and advice on sleep training!