Sleep is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? Before kids, we take it for granted and act as if we’ll always be able to get sleep. After kids, we learn that sleep is an essential part of life and is a coveted thing! We all know that babies don’t come out of the womb sleeping 12 hours (if you didn’t know this, I’m sorry to be the one to burst your bubble), so what do we do? How do we get our newborns to sleep? Even if it’s just for a couple of hours at a time?
In today’s world, there is so much technology out there and so many new contraptions that all swear to help your baby sleep. However, the ugly truth is that not every child is going to sleep easily. Not to mention, all children are going to sleep differently. Some newborn babies might come out sleeping perfectly in their crib alone on their back, other babies might come out only wanting to sleep while they’re nursing. Ugh, been there, done that! When it comes to figuring out how to get your baby to sleep, you need to first learn about your baby and learn what they like.
How to Get Your Newborn to Sleep
There’s no magic wand to wave or secret parent code that gets passed down from generation to generation. Getting babies to sleep through the night is all about repetition, routine, and a safe, calm and comfortable sleep space.
Before reading on, be sure to check out the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for sleep safety. These are first and foremost the most important guidelines to follow along with tips from your own pediatrician.
Establish a Routine
One of the first things you want to establish with your newborn is a routine. Remember, this is a routine more so than a sleep schedule. Our newborns don’t need to be on a schedule quite yet! However, we all like a good routine, and kids and babies love them more than anyone else. They crave the consistency that routines bring because it gives them comfort in knowing what comes next.
Your baby’s sleep routine should be the same every single night. Do what works for you and your family but a good sleep routine should be as calming as possible. You could start by dimming the lights in the house. Also, turn the volume on the tv or radio down low. Soft lighting and sounds set the mood for a calm evening.
Bath Time to Soothe Your Newborn to Sleep
Next, you could give your baby a relaxing bath. There are so many different baby shampoos out there and many of them have added calming agents like lavender or chamomile. These two things are naturally known to help ease the mind and body and help people to sleep better. After a nice warm bath, you could read a story in the baby’s nursery or wherever it is that your baby sleeps at night.
Read to Your Baby
Reading to them where they sleep lets them know that the room is a calm place and that it’s a place of rest. When you are reading to your baby, be sure to use a calm voice and dim the lights. This is a tradition you can carry long into their childhood and it makes for some really special moments.
One Last Feeding
After reading a short story, feed your baby. You want your last feed of the night (where they get the biggest stretch of sleep) to be their biggest. This feeding should also be done in the room where they sleep. This too signals that it is a safe and relaxing space. You can nurse your baby or bottle-feed them. If you nurse them, make sure that they are actually eating and not just using you as a pacifier. The idea of this last feed is to fill them up so that they are nice and full and drowsy.
Cross Your Fingers for the Best!
Once you feed your baby, be sure to burp them and then lay them down on their back for a peaceful rest. This simple routine may work for some babies, and it may only kind of work for others. However, setting a routine is a key component to getting your newborn to sleep and you will thank yourself down the road.
If your baby likes the routine but still needs a little help, there are a few things out there to help your little one settle in for the night.
Swaddles to Help Your Newborn Sleep
Most babies love swaddles. When they are in your womb, they are tucked in there so tight. Then, they come out into this world and they have all of the room they could possibly imagine, which can be scary for a newborn. Swaddles make your baby feel cozy and like they are still snug in your womb. What often wakes baby’s at night is their startle reflex which causes them to “jump” or throw their arms up, oftentimes hitting their face. This is where the swaddles come in. You can find swaddles in so many different shapes and sizes these days. There is the classic swaddle blanket or the velcro swaddles that make wrapping your little bundle up like a burrito so much easier.
My kids were movers at night and did not do well with the swaddle blankets. They could bust through those like it was nobody’s business. That’s when I first found the SwaddleMe swaddles. They are made with stretchy material and have Velcro tabs to secure the swaddle in place. These swaddles are great for newborns who love the secure feeling and who have a strong startle reflex.
If your baby likes the swaddle feel but doesn’t like their arms being down (maybe your baby likes to have their hands up by their face when they sleep) try the Halo Innovations Sleepsack Swaddle Wrap. This option allows the baby’s arms to be free while also giving their body the “hug” of a swaddle.
Swaddles for Houdini Babies
Other good swaddle options are the Love to Dream Swaddle Up, the Nested Bean and the Happiest Baby Swaddle. The Love to Dream Swaddle Up was a lifesaver for my son (and me, let’s be honest) because it allowed him to sleep with his arms up by his head but secured him so that he wasn’t hitting himself in his sleep. The Nested Bean is a swaddle that has a lightly weighted bean on the chest and sides to mimic a loved ones touch so they feel secure. The Happiest Baby Swaddle looks like the ultimate baby swaddle. If your baby loves a snug swaddle but can break out of all of them, give this one a try!
While swaddles are great, try pairing them with a sound machine to lull your newborn to sleep. Your baby had constant “white noise” while they were in your womb. Because of this putting them to sleep in an ultra-quiet room may be frightening. There are so many different white noise machines out there to help your little one sleep well. The main thing you should look for on your sound machine is the types of sounds they make, if they can go all night, and if they have a night light.
Hatch Baby is a top contender for many families out there. This sound machine has it all. It has a night light, makes many different sounds, and it has a “rise and shine” function that your child can use later. The Dream Egg is another great option. It has a variety of different sounds, a night light and it has a timer option. This sound machine is a more cost-effective sound machine than the Hatch Baby, but both are great.
You can check out a detailed review of our favorite sound machines for babies here!
Another key component to helping your baby sleep is to make sure their bed or bassinet is super comfy. Bassinets are best for newborns because they give your baby a sense of comfort. The crib can often be too big for your baby and your baby may feel lost in their bed. A bassinet gives them a much cozier feel.
There are so many different types of bassinets out there, the question you need to answer is, how much money are you willing to spend for sleep? You can go for a traditional bassinet such as the Delta Children’s Classic Bassinet that costs about $35 or you can get all techy and go for the Snoo Smart Bassinet which will run you a cool $1,295. The Snoo is insanely expensive to buy so they now offer a rent option that is about $3.70 a day or $112 a month. If you plan on only having one child and only plan on having them sleep in your room for a couple of months, the renting option would be a great fit!
Parents are always desperate for sleep, so luckily there is a whole market out there dedicated to products to fit every lifestyle and budget. The 4moms Momaroo is similar in tech to the Snoo but much more cost-effective. If you are wanting a bassinet that has some tech but is easier on the wallet, try the Ingenuity Dream and Grow Bassinet.
Sleep will come…. someday
If you have tried everything mentioned above but your newborn still isn’t sleeping well, just know that it will eventually happen. Some day your baby will sleep. The best thing to do to help your baby sleep sooner rather than later is to establish a bedtime routine and stick with it. It can be so tempting to keep trying something new if things don’t work right away, but you need to give your baby a chance with the routine and techniques you are using. Make a plan and routine and stick with it. Eventually, your baby will adjust to your routine and will fall into its rhythm. Hang in there! Rest assured, your baby will sleep. (Did you see what I did there? A little sleep humor for you.)
Don’t forget, our Rookie Moms Facebook Group is open for questions! There’s even a sleep expert who comes on to chat!