Want tricks to get your baby to sleep faster and for longer?
Let’s be honest, there is no magic wand or one-size-fits-all method to getting a baby to sleep.
Newborns are especially difficult as their sleep patterns are all over the place and they will be waking often to feed.
In the first few weeks you will notice your baby easily nods off anywhere, although they probably prefer your arms.
Once your baby gets to around three weeks their sleep habits change and they need help getting to sleep. During this stage they are learning how to get themselves to sleep. It seems bizarre a human is born not knowing how to get to sleep, but its true!
They may be crying for hours in the evening, fighting sleep with all of their tiny might. Or they might only want to sleep on you.
Whatever your baby’s sleep issues, there are lots of things you can try to help!
Here are some tricks to help you get your baby to sleep. This handy infographic will give you an idea of how much sleep your baby should be getting by age in the first year.
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1. Use white noise
A silent room is actually not a great sleep cue for a baby. The womb was not a deathly silent place, so you can help to replicate it with white noise.
You can find white noise tracks on YouTube if you don’t want to spend any money.
Alternatively you can try a white noise machine. Ewan the Dream Sheep is really popular as he offers a range of sounds or music and glows red, which is supposed to remind your baby of the light in the womb.
You could also try a white noise machine that projects light onto the ceiling. There are several that project stars or other light shows. This is great for older babies. Newborn babies don’t have great sight so won’t fully appreciate the colourful show.
2. Feed baby to sleep
Somewhere out there a baby sleep consultant fainted from sheer horror. Advocating feeding to sleep? Whatever are you thinking???
Honestly, in the early months it is all about survival. If your baby wants to feed to sleep, it’s because they’re either hungry or they just want to be close to you.
If you are happy to feed your baby to sleep, and it’s working for you, then do it.
Get your baby to sleep by any means necessary. You can worry about sleeping through the night and self-soothing at a much later date. All children nod off without being breastfed to sleep eventually!
3. Try a bouncy walk
Hold your baby close to your chest, while supporting their head, and bounce along on your tip toes as you walk around your house.
Try different rhythms to see what your baby prefers but keep it nice and gentle. Babies love this kind of regular steady movement.
4. Use a readymade swaddle
Putting your baby in a swaddle using a square blanket is a tricky skill to master.
Make your life easier, and make it easier for you to get them changed in the middle of the night, by getting an easy swaddle.
There are lots of choices on the market, but I like the ones with a zip up the front.
5. Get rid of the light
Your baby needs less stimulation if you want them to drift off to sleep. Try blackout blinds and low lighting to help let them know it’s time for sleep.
6. Avoid changing the nappy
If there has been a poo explosion, of course you will need to change your baby’s nappy. However unless the nappy has leaked, avoid changing them in the night as it will just serve to wake them up more.
Do change them if they have done a poo, as if this is in contact with the skin for too long it can cause nappy rash.
With wee, most nappies take the moisture away from the skin so your baby will be fine without an overnight nappy change.
7. There’s no such thing as too much cuddling
You cannot cuddle your baby too much! If your baby wants to be cuddled to sleep every single night, then just surrender to it.
Of course you eventually may get tired of having to rock or snuggle your little one to sleep. If you do, and your baby is six months and over, you can start to gently help them to nod off in their own bed.
8. Get a cute dummy
These cute character dummies are easy to find if they get lost in the bed and your baby can clutch them easily.
They come in so many adorable versions as well!
9. Put your baby in the car
Nothing puts a sleep resistant baby to sleep faster than a ride in the car. A really tired baby will nod off in the car within minutes of you starting the engine.
Safety guidelines suggest you should not leave a baby to sleep in a car seat for longer than two hours. This means it’s not a good idea to get your baby to sleep in the car, then bring the car seat into the house and leave them to sleep there overnight.
Babies need to sleep flat on their backs. This is not only the safest position for them to sleep in terms of protecting them from cot death, but it’s also best for their developing back and spine.
Some research suggests letting a baby sleep for too long in a car seat can restrict their breathing.
Do not let this panic you! The solution is to let your baby nod off in the car, then transfer them to your arms or their cot.
10. Baby massage
The I L U massage is easy to perform and it helps babies to relax to sleep.
Simply use a little baby oil or baby-friendly moisturiser to make your hands slick and gently but firmly spell out I L U on your baby’s tummy and chest.
You can also rub their feet and toes gently. Your baby will love it and it will relax them. This is great to do after bath time.
11. Get the temperature right
You can’t get to sleep if you are too cold or too hot and babies are exactly the same. Get a room thermometer to give you an idea of how you need to dress your baby to keep them comfortable at night.
Dress your baby in light, cotton layers and cover them with light blankets. It’s better to add or remove layers of soft cellular blankets to help control temperature through the night.
Sleeping bags are an absolute lifesaver when it comes to helping babies sleep! You can use them from around six weeks. They come in a variety of tog ratings so you just pick the right one for the season and average temperature of the room your baby will sleep in.
12. Bounce your baby to sleep
Babies who go through sleep regressions, growth spurts or just fussy phases can be really tough to settle.
A baby bouncer can help to soothe your baby to sleep while leaving you hands-free.
You can either bounce it with your foot or if you get a vibrating one, it does the hard work for you.
Just a warning though, don’t leave your baby to sleep in a bouncy chair unattended, overnight or for long periods of time.
It’s good for soothing a screaming baby for a short, supervised nap, or before transferring them to their bed.
13. Try baby wearing
Wear your baby in a sling to satisfy their need to be close to you and give you back the use of your arms.
You may find you need to try out a variety of slings to figure out what works best for you. Cloth slings are great for around the house as they are soft and comfy, but you may find the more padded slings more comfortable.
14. Stroke your baby’s face with a tissue
This genius video has done the rounds on Facebook millions of times. It’s seriously impressive, but be warned it doesn’t work on every baby. It just annoyed my two!
15. Get a dummy that feels like mummy
Some dummies are designed specifically for breastfeeding babies to mimic the shape and feel of mama’s nipples.
These can be a great option to help your baby soothe themselves to sleep at night while giving your poor boobs a break.
16. Double layer the bedding
Babies spit up and have nappy explosions all of the time. This means that not only do you need a lot of spare sheets, but you might be changing their bedding multiple times a day.
Make your life easier by placing down a waterproof mattress cover, then a cotton sheet, then another waterproof mattress cover and a cotton sheet. This way if there is an accident in the middle of the night, it’s a quick job to make it clean.
17. Floppy arm sleep test
Ever manage to rock your baby to sleep, then go to put them down and they immediately spring awake?
You need to try the floppy arm test! If you lift up your baby’s arm, let it go and it immediately flops down with now resistance or attempt to hold it up, your baby is in a deep sleep and you should be OK to put them down.
18. Get out the vacuum cleaner
This is the best white noise solution ever. Not only will your carpets sparkle, but your baby will be snoozing away in no time.
Many people find that this little trick works on their baby within minutes. Give it a try.
19. Try a dream feed
Many parents swear by a dream feed. This is an extra feed offered at around 10pm (just before you go to bed) to help your baby sleep for longer spells.
The idea is that you lift your baby up, pop the bottle or nipple into their mouth and try your best not to wake them up while they take the feed.
Then you settle them back to sleep and that hopefully prevents any 1am milk parties at your house. It works wonders for some, so give it a try.
20. Get a decent night light
Feeding your baby in full, bright light at night is not going to help get them to sleep.
Get a night light that provides you with just enough light not to stub your toe on the furniture, but not so much that your baby is wide awake thinking it’s time to go out for the day.
21. Skin to skin contact
If a baby is inconsolable in the evenings, stripping them right down to a nappy and getting yourself naked can actually be very calming.
Skin to skin contact is very soothing for a baby, so try it sitting up on the sofa, or lying down in bed.
If you do want to co-sleep with your baby, this can really help them to nod off. However, do remember to follow safer sleep guidelines and never do this on a sofa.
22. Try a baby lounger
These snuggly baby beds are cozy and provide your baby with a feeling of being surrounded, which reminds them of being in the womb.
You can also transport them all over the house, and if you’re out at a friend’s house for the day, as they are light and portable.
23. Start a relaxing bedtime routine
A bedtime routine is one of the absolute best things you can do to help your baby get to sleep at the same time every night with minimal fuss.
For newborns, a bedtime routine probably won’t make much difference, especially if they are in a growth spurt and feeling fussy.
But it’s never too early to start a simple bedtime routine. The point of it is that your baby gets the message that this is bedtime, a time of quiet and relaxation and they should try to shut their eyes to rest.
Once your baby gets used to and recognises the cues for the routine (bath, quiet book, nursery rhyme) then you’ll see they eventually start to rub their eyes the second you turn down the lights.
24. Don’t rush to your baby when they cry
This is not a advocation for cry it out. But sometimes babies may cry out in their sleep, or have a little fuss after being put down for sleep.
A minute of crying might seem like 100 years, all parents feel that way. But crying in sleep is very normal for babies. It doesn’t mean they’re in pain and they will often stop within a few seconds.
Babies fuss and cry a lot, because it’s their only way of communication. You aren’t traumatising them by giving them a few seconds to get used to being in their bed.
Of course pick them up if you want to, we’re not supporting child cruelty here! But just give your baby a little time to soothe themselves. Sometimes they will just nod off.
25. Whatever it takes!
We’ve touched on rocking and feeding to sleep. You need to find what helps your baby get to sleep and just go with it. The first six months to a year can be absolutely brutal.
Get the respite where you can, try new things if what you’re doing doesn’t work out after two weeks, and stay calm. All babies sleep through eventually.
I hope these tips were useful and you find something that works for you!
Are there any tips that have helped your baby to sleep?