As a new parent, you may find yourself struggling to get your newborn baby to sleep. It’s no secret that newborns have erratic sleep patterns, and this can make settling them down for the night and for naps a real challenge. However, by implementing simple technique, and by creating a calming sleep environment and starting to establish a bedtime routine, your baby will be sleeping better in no time.
Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns
Before we dive into how to get your baby to sleep, it’s essential to understand newborn sleep patterns. Newborns typically sleep between 15 and 18 hours a day, but they don’t sleep for long stretches at a time. Instead, they sleep in short bursts of around 30 min to 3 hours at a time. This means that your little one will be waking up frequently throughout the night and will need to be fed and changed regularly.
It’s also important to note that newborns don’t yet have a sense of day and night quite figured out yet. This is why establishing a bedtime routine and creating a calming sleep environment is so important. By doing so, you can help your baby understand that it’s time to sleep.
Creating a Calming Sleep Environment for Your Newborn
The first step in helping your baby sleep better is creating a calming sleep environment. Start by setting the temperature in your baby’s room between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. (65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit). This temperature range is ideal for newborns and will help them feel comfortable.
Next, consider the lighting in your baby’s room. During the day, open the curtains and let in natural light. This will help your baby understand that it’s daytime and will encourage them to be more awake and alert. At naptime and night, close the blinds and use dim lights only to change and feed your baby..
Finally, consider the noise level in your baby’s room. If there is a lot of environmental noise, consider using a white noise machine away from their sleeping space to drown out the noise.
How to Get a Newborn to Sleep – Establishing a Bedtime Routine
Establishing a bedtime routine is crucial for helping your baby sleep better. Start by choosing a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. This will help your baby develop a sense of routine and will make it easier for them to fall asleep at night. You might be thinking they are a bit young to have a routine, but doing something short and sweet, consistently can help to set the scene for bedtime.
This routine might include a warm bath (when they are ready), a massage, reading a short story, and singing a lullaby. By following the same routine each night, you’ll help your baby understand that it’s time to sleep.
Technique for Putting a Newborn to Sleep
Now that you’ve created a calming sleep environment and established a bedtime routine, it’s time to focus on a technique for putting your baby to sleep. Often parents come to me with the common issue that every time that they lay their baby down, they start to cry, resulting in the parent picking up the child and reverting to a stroller walk, a carrier nap or a nap on them. First, we want to make sure that we are following safe sleep guidelines. So placing our baby on a flat surface, with no other objects in the sleep space. Next I want you to try the Pick Up, Put Down Method.
- If your baby starts fussing when you place them down for sleep, pick them up and hold them until the stop fussing, not until they fall asleep.
- Put the baby back down in the sleep space.
- If the fuss or cry, repeat by picking them up until they are just calm, and placing them down again.
- Continue until they fall asleep in their sleep space or are calm in the sleep space.
More Newborn Sleep Tips
In addition to the technique mentioned above, there are a few other things you can do to help your baby sleep better:
- Be patient: It can take time for your baby to settle down and fall asleep, so be patient and don’t get discouraged if it takes a while.
- Be consistent: Following a consistent bedtime routine each night can help your baby understand that it’s time to sleep.
- Be flexible: Remember that newborns have erratic sleep patterns, and it’s normal for them to wake up frequently throughout the night. Be prepared to adjust your routine as needed.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Get Your Newborn to Sleep
There are also a few common mistakes that parents make when trying to get their baby to sleep. These include:
- Keeping your baby up too long: An overtired baby can be more challenging to settle down. Watch for signs of sleepiness and put your baby down for a nap or bedtime before they become overtired. Here is a quick reference to help you stay on track with your awake windows and schedule:
Birth to 6 Weeks: 4-6 naps per day that are 30 min to 3 hours long. Time awake between naps: 45 min- 1 hour. Bedtime between 8-10 pm.
6 Weeks Old – 10 weeks: 3-4 naps per day that are 30 min – 2 hours long. Time awake between naps: 1 hour – 1 hour 15 min. Bedtime between 7 -9 pm.
- Rushing in to soothe your baby: It’s normal for newborns to fuss and cry, but this doesn’t always mean that they need you to rush in and soothe them. Give your baby a chance to self-soothe before intervening.
- Overstimulating your baby before bedtime: Avoid overstimulating your baby before bedtime. Instead, opt for calming activities like reading a story or singing a lullaby.
Conclusion: Helping Your Newborn Sleep Better for a Peaceful Night’s Rest
Getting your baby to sleep can be a challenge, but by understanding newborn sleep patterns, creating a calming sleep environment, and establishing a bedtime routine, it’s possible to help your little one sleep better. Remember to be patient and consistent, and don’t be afraid to adjust your routine as needed. With a little effort, you can help your baby get the rest they need for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Do you have any other tips for getting a newborn to sleep? Share them in the comments below! And if you found this article helpful, be sure to share it with other new parents who may be struggling with getting their baby to sleep. Need more support? Sign up here for my Free Baby Sleep Goals and my newsletter, and check out my newborn sleep support package here.