How to Get a Newborn to Sleep

In the early stages of motherhood many mamas come to find that getting their newborn to sleep can be a huge challenge! But I promise you, your baby is not out to torture you with lack of sleep. Babies like their sleep just as much as you do!

Here you are going to find a gold mine of tips on how to get your newborn to sleep so that you can get some rest too. 

How to get a newborn to sleep


What is a newborn’s sleeping pattern?

First, let’s look at some helpful information on just what a newborn baby’s sleep schedule looks like.

Babies have been in their mother’s warm cozy dark tummy for 9 months. They are not born with the concept of night and day. That’s one of the reasons why newborns sleep around the clock and are up and down at all hours of the day. Also, their tiny bellies cannot hold that much milk. This causes them to wake frequently for feedings whether it be day or night.

Even though you feel exhausted to no end, newborns actually sleep a heck of a lot. According to the National Sleep Foundation, newborns sleep 14-17 hours in a 24-hour period and sometimes up to 18-19 hours! The lack of sleep and exhaustion for parents comes from the fact that newborns wake up every couple hours to eat. Bottle-fed babies tend to eat every 2-3 hours while formula few babies 3-4.


How do you get a newborn to sleep?

The first trick to caching some Z’s is by finding a way to manage your baby’s sleep rhythm. Honestly, there may be no pattern at first as your baby will wake up whenever it’s time to eat. But, over a couple of weeks you will begin to notice that your baby will sleep longer periods. They will also be able to stay awake longer amounts of time. Hallelujah right!

Even with a newborn you can begin to shape your baby’s sleep patterns straight from the womb! It’s all about consistency, patience and using the right techniques. Using the tips below will help you and your baby have a lifelong healthier sleeping pattern. Let’s dive in!

  1. Develop a consistent bedtime routine. It’s important you do consistent activities that lead up to bedtime, that way your little one will start to recognize it’s time to go to sleep. The routine is totally up to you mama! Calming activities can include rocking, singing lullabies, bathing, getting into jammies, reading a book, swaddling, and things of that nature. Keep the nighttime routine as calming and quiet as possible.
  2. Put your baby to bed when they are drowsy. When your baby starts to show signs of tiredness it’s time to head to the bedroom. They will then begin to associate the drowsiness they feel with going to sleep. Avoid over-tiredness as it makes them cranky, and it will actually make it harder for your baby to fall asleep! It may take some time for you to recognize your baby’s sleepy ques, but once you do its critical to act on them.
  3. Give you baby time to settle down. Your baby may cry and fuss, but you don’t always need to rush to their side at the first sound of a peep! Make sure all your baby’s needs are met then give your baby a few minutes before you go check on them. Babies who can self soothe have been reported to sleep for longer periods and have total longer sleep time at night!
  4. Try swaddling your baby. Your baby was in a snug environment for nine months so swaddling may be comforting to your baby! Some babies like it and others don’t. It never hurts to give swaddling a try as long as they are not able to roll over yet. It can take some practice to get the swaddling gig figured out as every baby is different and may like to be swaddled in a certain way. Some babies like to be swaddled tight and snug while others may like to be swaddled loosely with their arms out. Swaddling is a trial-and-error game, so don’t get discouraged mama!
  5. A pacifier might do the trick. If your baby does not have a wet diaper or isn’t hungry then a pacifier may be the answer you’re looking for! Sucking is naturally comforting to a baby so a pacifier may help to soothe your little one if they are having trouble sleeping. A helpful trick for mamas is to put multiple pacifiers in their crib in the same spot so that they are easy to find in the middle of the night. Pacifiers are also linked to helping reduce the risk of SIDS.
  6. Baby massage. Massages can literally soothe anyone, including your baby! Gently rub their forehead, bridge of nose and head with your fingers. Use lotion and softly rub your baby’s back and joints to get them relaxed and ready for sleep mode.
  7. Take turns. If you have a partner take turns during the night with your baby. You heard right mama. You are allowed to catch some much needed Z’s too! If you breastfeed your partner can help by putting the baby back to sleep or assisting in diaper changes. My husband and I rotate days on who is on night shift, and it has been out of this world beneficial. Both of you need to get equal amounts of sleep to be functional and present for the day ahead!
  8. Simplify the diaper changes. Diaper changes all in all can be a pretty active event. The goal is to keep the diaper changes as least stimulating as possible! Your baby does not need to be changed as frequently during the night as during the day. It is okay for the diaper to be a little wet as long as it is not overly full to cause leaking. If you have to change your baby’s diaper during the night try doing it before you feed them. That way they have a chance to fall back asleep during the feeding. Keep diaper changing materials close by to avoid having to turn any lights on or make noises fumbling around. Lastly, make sure you use a waterproof pad, keep an extra sheet nearby, and have an outfit ready to change into in case your baby’s diaper leaks.
  9. Keep the bedroom at a cooler temperature. Just like adults, babies sleep much better if you keep the temperature in the room at a cool temperature. Adjust the thermostat between 68- and 72-degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid over bundling your baby and try dressing them in layers instead. That way you can easily regulate your baby’s temperature by removing or adding layers as necessary. Keep their crib away from windows and vents as these factors may increase or decrease the consistent temperature you are trying to create for your baby. If your anything like me, I always worried my baby was too cold! If that is a concern for you if your baby’s chest feels warm, then they are not cold.
  10. Create an optimal sleep environment. Before putting your little one to bed its extremely helpful to set the mood for sleep. Dim the lights or cut out the lights completely. Invest in some blackout shades if necessary. Lowering the lights at bedtime will help your baby begin to associate light with being awake and dark for sleep. A white noise machine is also a must for creating a sleepy environment for your baby. The white noise will help to cancel out other noises that can interrupt sleep such as cars passing by, you fumbling around in the kitchen or hubby watching T.V., etc. Soon enough your little one will start to associate the white noise with sleep as well! You can also try soothing lullabies or nature sounds if your baby prefers those. I highly recommend purchasing a portable white noise machine. That way you can create a sleepy environment even when you’re away from home.


Make sure to take care of yourself too mama!

Mamas by nature want to do it all and be it all for everyone. However, bringing home a new baby entails waves of challenges that can feel downright exhausting! Normal tasks once easily mastered like cooking, cleaning, showering, etc. can now seem almost impossible as your overcome by exhaustion mentally, emotionally, and physically.

It’s important to get all the rest you possibly can to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the normal day to day activities. If a mama is overly exhausted and cranky then her attitude is going to rub off on everyone in the household, including the baby.

Stretching yourself to almost nothing does nobody any good. Ask your partner, family, or friends to help you in any way that you can find! Look for chores that can be done by someone else so you can scrape some tasks off your plate. These can include, cooking, household cleaning, laundry, walking the dog, and tasks of that nature. You’ll be amazed the relief you feel once these mundane tasks are taken off of your shoulders. So do not be afraid to ask for some help!

If you are comfortable with the idea, ask someone you trust to watch the baby for a few hours. You can get a peaceful nap or get out of the house for some personnel time.

Conclusion

Training your baby to sleep through the night, or even more than a couple hours, is a tricky skill to learn. It takes time and a hell of a lot of patience, let me tell you. Some days are filled with tears as you wonder if you’ll ever get a peaceful night of sleep again. Some days you’ll feel on top of the world that your baby only woke up once during the night!

Remember mama, you and your baby are both learning and getting to know each other. This sleep game takes trial and error, patience, and persistence. Most importantly, you are not alone. Keep going mama, I promise you better sleep is in your future!

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