Part of the most nerve-wracking things about being a new parent is trying to help your newborn get the sleep he or she needs. It sometimes feels like handling a time bomb.
And while there are no easy answers, we can make some suggestions.
9 ways to help get your newborn sleeping
There’s no one trick to get your newborn to sleep. Sometimes babies will respond to one thing one day and another the next. It just depends.
That being said, here are some ideas to try out with your baby.
- Give them a bath
- Eliminate distractions for the baby
- Accept help
- Take turns
- Eliminate distractions for you
- Feed your baby
- Let them figure it out
- Recreate the womb
- Don’t overthink it
Baths are great for many reasons. First, they’re helpful because they help keep your baby clean, and a clean baby is a healthy baby. Second, baths are great because they help create a regular routine that a child will notice. That means your baby will start to subconsciously prepare him or herself for sleep during the bath.
The other reason why baths are so great for babies has to do with body temperature, Humans sleep cold. Meaning our body temperature lowers a bit when we fall asleep. When you take a hot bath or shower, your body gets warmer than it is normally. So when you give your baby a bath, they warm up because of the bathwater, and that forces their little body to cool itself down to reach normal levels. That cooling effect can help trigger certain brain chemicals that’ll encourage sleep.
There’s nothing wrong with a gentle nightlight, but flashing or blinking lights may break the sleepy haze your baby has just before falling asleep. Noisy toys may be fun to play with during the day but they may startle your baby awake while he or she is tossing and turning at night. You may want your baby to sleep in your room, but bumbling around in the dark when you finally decide to go to bed might do more harm than good.
You can’t account for every noise, light, and possible sleep distraction that might pop up, but you can try your best to make a calm, peaceful space for your baby to sleep in. Leave the toys for daytime play and let sleep be your baby’s only focus at night.
Sometimes babies don’t sleep. It’s not because of their diaper or their stomachs. It’s not because gas is making them feel uncomfortable. They just don’t want to. But you need to sleep in order to be the best parent possible. That’s just a fact. It’s also hard to get the sleep you need when your baby doesn’t want to fall asleep even though nothing is wrong.
The fact is, sometimes you just need to ask for help. Hire a babysitter, get a family member to watch your child, or do something else so you can get a few hours of sleep. Too often parents feel the need to do everything by themselves and you absolutely shouldn’t feel that way. You need to do what’s best for you and your baby and that’s more important than imitating your favorite Instagram mom.
Besides, you never know, maybe someone might have that unexplainable magic touch that puts your kid to bed when everything you tried hasn’t worked yet.
Not everyone has a spouse or partner to help, but if you do, you should definitely be taking turns doing baby duty. It doesn’t matter if one person stays at home with the baby and one person works or if both people work or if both are at home. Everyone needs a break from time to time and that means everyone has to chip in and do their part to take care of the kids.
Alternating nighttime feeding shifts or taking over with the kids so each of you can have a couple of hours of “me time” during the day can be the difference between losing your sanity and being the parent you hope to be. Make sure everyone is taking turns helping the baby fall asleep.
Aside from being a good idea for the parents, it’s a good idea for your baby to get some sleep-related bonding time with both of you.
Distractions might make it harder for your newborn to sleep, but they can also make it harder for you to be a comforting force that helps put them to sleep. The blue light coming from your phone as you rock your newborn to sleep may distract them from falling asleep. Your baby will pick up the nervous energy you give off while thinking about the work you still have to do after you put them down for a nap.
No one can really make your schedule that much easier. But you can just put the phone to the side while you’re getting ready to put your baby down for a nap. Be present and calm and your baby will notice and follow your example.
Babies don’t have a lot of life experience. And they can’t do much of anything by themselves. They mostly have to lie there until they develop the strength to move around. So any small thing is super easy to hyper fixate on. That includes hunger.
If your baby is having a hard time sleeping, it’s possible that they have a case of the tummy rumbles. Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, you should be able to whip out a quick bottle to “top off” your baby before bedtime. A full stomach is just one less thing that can distract your child from peacefully falling asleep at night.
Oftentimes, parents feel the need to rush to their child’s aid when they encounter a problem. But kids need to learn and grow just like everyone else. It’s no different for babies. Sometimes, you have to let your baby cry it out for a bit and let them learn how to self-soothe and put themselves to sleep.
Not only is this a good thing to do immediately-speaking, but it’s also a good thing to do for the long-run. The sooner your kids learn how to manage themselves and put themselves to sleep the better it is for everybody who lives in the house.
If your child is only a few months old, they may be still getting used to the outside world. They’re used to tighter, warmer, darker spaces, and laying on a crib in the open air is just so different. Your child will eventually get used to their new environment, but it’ll take some time to get there.
While they adjust you can use a sleep sack or some other wrap to help them feel nice and secure during bedtime. Don’t bother with nightlights until they’re older. Additionally, there are plenty of affordable white noise machines if you want to give them something calming to listen to.
This one is easier said than done. It’s really easy to tell parents not to overthink sleeping. But it’s another thing to do it. Just remember this, everyone falls asleep when they get tired enough. And while there are tips, tricks, and baby gear you can use to help your baby sleep better, there is only so much you can do.
Nobody likes seeing their baby struggle with sleep, but just know that, like everything else with parenting, this is just a stage and they’ll figure out how to sleep peacefully through the night soon enough. Tomorrow will come, so just do what you can tonight.
You and baby both need sleep
You and your baby need sleep. You might think you can go without sleep, but everyone needs a full night eventually. The right mattress can help you make the most out of the sleep you get. If you’re looking to upgrade your mattress, look at the many options we offer at Tuft & Needle.
We know you’ll sleep better if you do.
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