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How to Get Your Baby to Sleep and Stay Asleep

You may know the feeling: you put your baby in his crib, get settled into bed, and are hopeful for a good night’s rest. And before you know it, you awaken to the sound of your crying infant. Sometimes it seems like your baby won’t stay asleep no matter what you do. Sleepless nights are to be expected, but it shouldn’t have to be every night. If your baby won’t stay asleep– or even if baby falls asleep easily but then won’t stay asleep– read our guide below for a few tips that may help. Learning how to make your baby sleep easily at night can be a tricky process, even with the sleepiest babies. Try some of these methods out and see if your little one drifts off to dreamland any easier. 

Babies don’t really sleep through the night until they are about 6 months old. “Sleeping through” can be defined as staying asleep for 8-12 hours at a time without waking up to be fed. That being said, every baby is different, and it may take more or less time for baby to stay asleep for long stretches of time (BabyCenter, 2014). If the baby doesn’t stay asleep for 8-12 hours every night, don’t worry– a little fluctuation is normal. 

To get your baby to fall and stay asleep, you want to create the perfect sleeping environment for him. Newborns haven’t quite adjusted to life outside of the womb, so it is important to make this transition as smooth as possible. Typically, a baby won’t stay asleep if there’s anything causing her discomfort, from the wrong swaddling method to being hungry. While you’re trying to decode your baby’s sleep habits, try experimenting with these tricks to see what works.

White Noise Sounds

A common assumption is that babies should be sleeping in complete silence, but this isn’t the case at all. Newborns are used to lots of noise in the womb, so silence for them is strange and unpleasant and may be part of why your newborn won’t stay asleep. When you are holding baby and trying to soothe him, make a loud “Shh-ing” noise in his ear. Babies want to hear something close to what they experience in the womb, which is why this method is so effective. Since you probably won’t be able to do this all night, try using a white sound machine or a fan. There are even apps or videos online that recreate these sounds.

Once your baby is sleepy, place him on the Baby Brezza Soothing Mat, which mimics the movement and noise in the womb. You can move your mat to the crib and leave it on while your baby sleeps, thanks to the automatic shut-off feature. If your baby doesn’t stay asleep after trying the Soothing Mat, feel free to try more of the tips below.

Scheduled Awakenings

The amount of sleep that babies need depends on their age. The younger they are, the longer and more frequently they have to sleep, so getting a baby to stay asleep as a newborn is extra important. Babies still haven’t developed a sense of a natural sleep schedule because their brains haven’t fully matured (Rabbitt, n.d.). And babies don't develop their own melatonin (the sleep hormone) until month 4, meaning there’s a higher chance babies won’t stay asleep in the first few months.

Although this seems counterintuitive, try waking up your baby at specific times each night. You should do this by tracking what times during the night baby wakes up. To get a good sense of these times, aim for a week of tracking these specific times.

Once you find out these times, wake your baby 15 minutes before his regular awakening time. You want to increase this time by 15 minutes after a few days, so then you will wake your baby at his regular awakening hour. A few days after, wake him up 15 minutes after this time.

This works because your baby will then wait for you to wake him rather than wake up on his own. Increasing the waking period by 15 minutes each day will teach him to sleep for longer stretches of time. It may take up to 3-4 weeks for this process to help your baby stay asleep  (Frank, n.d.).

Consistent Bedtimes

To help your newborn develop a sense of when he should be waking and sleeping, put him to bed at the same time every night. Even if baby doesn’t fall asleep when you put him to bed, this process will still help to regulate his sleeping patterns. You should also wake your baby around the same time every morning. If baby is awake before his regular wake-up time, keep him in the crib until then (DeJeu, n.d.).

In addition to consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, schedule in specific nap times for your baby. Schedule these times according to your baby’s age and natural tendency to get sleepy during the day. Once you’ve observed the time that your baby gets sleepy, put him to bed for a nap at this same time every day (BabyCenter, 2015). Learning how to make a baby stay asleep can be tricky– but keeping an eye out for these downtimes can help dial in the right sleeping schedule for a well-rested little one. 

Before setting a schedule, keep your baby’s age in mind and how much sleep he should be getting. Newborns under four months should get 8-9 hours of sleep each night and take 3-5 naps a day for a total of 7-9 hours. Babies that are four months to a year old should sleep 9-10 hours a night and sleep 4-5 hours during the day in the form of 2-3 naps (Gelman, 2008).

Avoid Excessive Contact

When you are trying to get your baby to sleep, avoid looking him in the eye. This is a very stimulating experience for babies and may excite them because they think it’s time to play– babies won’t stay asleep if they think it’s time to have fun!

You should also avoid soothing your baby too long, especially if he is easily excitable and would rather move around and try out some new skills he learned, like crawling. Remind your baby that it’s time to sleep and leave the room if he wants to play with you. Although he may be upset by this at first, he should learn to keep himself entertained and eventually fall asleep. Learning how to make your baby sleep easily at night can be emotional for parents and babies alike, but babies being able to go to sleep on their own is important.

Crying could indicate separation anxiety, so soothe your baby for a few minutes before leaving him to fall asleep on his own (Warnick, n.d.).

Use Light to Your Advantage  

Since babies have not established a natural sleeping rhythm, exposing them to light and darkness at appropriate times can facilitate this process. When your baby first wakes up, feed him in a bright, well-lit room. As the day goes on, expose your baby to dimmer light. You can do this by installing a dimmer in his bedroom, as well as the rooms you often spend time with your baby in. This should make your baby sleepy since darkness triggers a natural need for sleep. By keeping your baby’s environment light during the day and dark at night, he will gain an understanding of when it’s time to sleep and will help baby stay asleep through the night. You can keep your baby’s sleeping environment well-lit during nap times, just as long as it doesn’t keep him awake (BabyCenter, 2016).

These tips should give you a good idea of how to soothe your baby and get him to sleep for longer periods of time. It is important to keep in mind that every baby is different, and what works for one baby might not work for another. Your baby’s sleeping patterns will change as he gets older, and you may need to try out different things to get him to sleep again. If your baby doesn’t stay asleep chronically and is colicky throughout each night, no matter what you try, it may be best to consult your pediatrician.

References

BabyCenter. (2014). When can my baby start sleeping through the night? Retrieved on October 24, 2017 from https://www.babycenter.com/404_when-can-my-baby-start-sleeping-through-the-night_1368534.bc

BabyCenter. (2015). Naps: the First Year. Retrieved on October 24, 2017 from https://www.babycenter.com/0_naps-the-first-year_1506357.bc#articlesection2

BabyCenter. (2016). Expert Sleep Strategies for Babies. Retrieved on October 24, 2017 from https://www.babycenter.com/0_expert-sleep-strategies-for-babies_1445907.bc

DeJeu, E. (n.d.). 3 Easy Steps To A Better Baby or Toddler Sleep Schedule. Retrieved on October 24, 2017 from https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/better-baby-toddler-sleep-schedule-3-easy-steps/

Frank, C. (n.d.). How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night. Retrieved  on October 24, 2017 from http://www.parenting.com/article/how-to-get-your-baby-to-sleep-through-the-night

Gelman, L. (2008). Baby and Children Sleep Chart. Retrieved on October 24, 2017 from http://www.parents.com/baby/sleep/basics/age-by-age-guide/

Rabbitt, M. (n.d.). Why Babies Don’t Sleep Through the Night. Retrieved October 24, 2017 from http://www.parenting.com/article/why-babies-dont-sleep-through-the-night

Warnick, M. (n.d.). 5 Sleep-Through-the-Night Strategies. Retrieved on October 24, 2017 from http://www.parents.com/baby/sleep/issues/5-sleep-through-the-night-strategies

Sleep & Soothing

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