Becoming a new parent can be overwhelming. It’s a beautiful experience in every way but things can quickly take a turn when your baby stops sleeping at all at night. No book or class can prepare you for what is coming your way. They can be up, literally all night, wanting to be held. This can go on for months, and then next thing you know you don’t get to sleep more than two hours a night. Things can become quite exhausting and frustrating at this point.
Caring for an infant can be challenging. To help you get through this stage, we have compiled a list of tips that will help your baby sleep through the night.
- Early Bedtime: Pushing your baby’s bedtime in does not help them sleep in longer the next morning! An early bedtime is anywhere from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and no later than 9 p.m. The idea is that, you don’t want your baby overtired when you put them down, otherwise they will fight going to sleep. You also don’t want to give a late nap so that your baby could stay up longer. You are better off giving less naps, so that there can be more nighttime sleep, and so your baby can be in bed between 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
- Consistent Bedtime Routine: This is crucial. Your baby likes predictability and a routine. The more your baby knows what’s coming, the more likely they will accept it. Make sure it’s the same routine every night, at the same time. The routine doesn’t have to be anything complex. It can be as simple as bath, bottle, book, and some cuddles.
- Play White Noise Sounds: Use a white-noise machine or a fan to create a gentle hum that masks other sounds. If you turn it on as part of your baby’s bedtime routine, it’ll cue your baby to relax and go to sleep.
- Avoid Soothing Baby Too Long: If your infant is going through a developmental growth spurt, like learning to crawl, the baby may be too excited about practicing her new skill to quickly fall back asleep. Be firm about the fact that nighttime is not the time to play. If your baby is chatting and cooing, ignore her. But if she’s crying, your baby may be experiencing separation anxiety, which usually comes with new motor development. When this happens more than 30 minutes before her typical wake-up time, soothe her for a few minutes, tell her you’ll see her soon, then leave the room.
- Put your Baby Down Sleepy but Awake: You want your baby to learn the skills to fall asleep on her own, and the only way she will do that is if you allow her, by putting her down awake. Parents that sneak their babies quietly in their cribs after they have rocked or nursed them to sleep, usually have babies that wake frequently at night. This is because that baby has no idea how to fall back asleep on her own.
- Give Up Nighttime Feedings: 90 percent of 6-month-olds can sleep through the night without snacking. Once you get the green light from your pediatrician to cease night feedings, you can slowly reduce them. If she’s getting multiple bottles, eliminate one at a time over a four-day period. You can also try decreasing the amount of formula in each bottle. When she realizes that milk is no longer on the menu, your baby will stop angling for it during the night. Once your baby is old enough not to need a night-time feed, she can learn to be comforted by your partner. She may stop needing anyone when she learns there’s no food involved.
- Wait Before Going In: If your baby wakes at night, wait a few minutes before going in. Many parents run in at the first sound of their baby’s whimper. Sometimes babies need to fuss and whine a little bit in order to learn how to fall back asleep on their own. We understand you worry about your child’s safety, and we strongly believe being safe is very important. But if you know they are crying only because they woke up in the middle of the night and they are alone, running in too quickly will rob them of the chance to figure out how to self-settle. So let them just fuss a little. You might be pleasantly surprised when your baby just goes back to sleep on her own one night.
We hope these tips and tricks help your baby sleep through the night. You can use the same tips for your toddler and see how they respond. Using these techniques at an earlier age will help them develop these habits more quickly.