Getting a baby to sleep soundly can be a challenge for new parents. Babies often protest when being put down for sleep, and they may wake up crying shortly after falling asleep. However, there are strategies that can help improve your baby’s sleep and provide both you and your baby with better rest. Here are some tips for putting your baby to sleep:
- Start a Bedtime Routine: Establishing a bedtime routine is essential for helping your baby sleep. About 30 minutes before bedtime, create a calming environment by reducing noise and dimming the lights. This helps your baby’s internal clock associate darkness with sleep. Incorporate calming rituals such as a warm bath, nursery rhymes, lullabies, and softly spoken stories. Consistency is key to help your baby understand what to expect.
- Don’t Rely on Soothing Methods: Aim to put your baby down drowsy but awake. If you consistently put your baby to sleep while they’re already asleep, they may struggle to self-soothe when they wake up during the night. Gradually reduce soothing habits to help your baby learn to fall asleep independently.
- Don’t Feed Them Back to Sleep: While it’s common for newborns to fall asleep while eating, relying on this to soothe your baby can lead to them associating feeding with falling asleep. Gradually move the feeding earlier in the bedtime routine and encourage self-soothing.
- Stick to an Early Bedtime: Establish an early bedtime between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Babies have a rise in melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone) around sundown. Keeping them up late can overstimulate them and make it harder for them to fall asleep.
- Eliminate Daytime Snacking: Ensure your baby feeds efficiently during the day, so they can sleep for longer stretches at night. Keep track of their feeding patterns and try to space out their meals to prevent snacking.
- Take Naps Seriously: Regular daytime naps are essential for helping your baby sleep better at night. Be mindful of your baby’s awake times and focus on creating a nap schedule.
- Set Napping Guidelines: By 3 to 4 months, work toward a nap schedule with one in the morning, one in the early afternoon, and a short late-afternoon nap if needed. Naps provide an opportunity to practice putting your baby to bed drowsy.
- Let Your Baby Work It Out: Avoid immediately rushing in to soothe your baby at the first sound of fussing. Give them some space to self-soothe and gradually intervene if necessary.
- Stop Overthinking Sleep: Trust your instincts and choose a sleep strategy that works for you and your baby. Consistency is key, and your baby may need time to establish good sleep habits.
Remember that every baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s important to be patient and flexible while helping your baby establish healthy sleep patterns.