Figuring out how to get a baby to sleep is hard work! When you’re a FTM you’re completely exhausted and barely have any idea of what to do. I did what I could to survive and get my baby to sleep, which at times is all you can really do, but as I learned more about baby’s sleep I wish I had implemented some of these tips earlier on. If you’re new in your journey, good for you to looking into this already, you’re totally ahead of the game! If you’re like me totally bleary-eyed searching for some sort of relief to get some sleep then I totally feel for ya, I’ve been there! No matter what your situation I’m sure you’ll find some of thse tips helpful. I don’t pretend to be any kind of sleep guru, but these tips worked really well for us so I want to share them with you in hopes that they will work really well for you too.
#1 Make Sure Baby Stays Warm When You Put Them Down in Their Sleep Space
I would get so frustrated when I would put him down after rocking him for 20+ minutes only to have him instantly wake up when I put him in the bassinet. That’s when I figured out this little trick. Many people use electric blankets or bottle warmers, but I found that to be just another thing to remember and awkwardly do while holding a newborn baby, instead we used receiving blankets to our advantage.
Put a receiving blanket under babe before you are going to put them down to sleep. Keep it under them when you do the transfer into their sleep space. That was they still have the warmth from the receiving blanket, rather than their cold sheets, and they can still smell your scent.
#2 Put Baby Down Drowsy But Awake
You may be thinking, “Ha! That’s a funny one, there’s no way I can do that without my babe screaming his head off!”. I was one of those people too, but after so much time spent rocking my babe to sleep as he got heavier and heavier in my arms I knew I had to change things up. I decided to take a gentle approach as he was still way to young to sleep train, and with consistent hard work it paid off. Here’s what we did:
- Rock babe until their eyes close, and then continued to rock while slowing down for 1 – 2 minutes before putting them down to bed. If they start to stir try to comfort them in their bed. Only pick them up as a last resort and repeat the process.
- Continue for a few days until this becomes easy to do, then slowly decrease the amount of time you rock them until you are putting them down just as their eyes start to flutter.
Related Post: 5 Helpful Breastfeeding Tips
#3 Wrap That Baby Up Tight
Some babies, including ours, have a strong startle reflex. It became just another thing that would instantly wake him up after finally getting him to sleep. Swaddles work great at keeping baby nice and cozy with limited room to move. There are lots of great swaddles that take the guesswork out of the crazy folded method and allow you to instantly swaddle your baby up with a few buttons or zippers.
If your baby is like ours, they may begin to hate being swaddled up while they are still awake, talk about frustrating! I wasn’t going to swaddle him up just as I got him drowsy and how to wind him back down again so we decided to tuck him in really tight. We would make sure his arms were down when he would go into his bassinet and we would tuck his blanket underneath the edges of his bassinet mattress so it would be taught across his chest and arms. He would slowly get out of it at night, but I found it a great way to gradually get him used to not being swaddled up.
Once you find what works for you, you will likely get quite a bit of additional sleep just from wrapping your baby up tight. When swaddling or tucking in your baby it is important to make sure they aren’t getting too hot which can be a cause for SIDS. Make sure your room temperature isn’t too high and you aren’t layering on too many layers. Pay attention to your baby and you’ll find what works for you.
#4 Establish Consistent Routines
Nighttime routines and nap routines make life so much easier. I became strict with nighttime routines and nap routines and it greatly reduced the time it took him to fall asleep. I was shocked at how quickly routines made a difference. In just one week there was a drastic change and I could say buh-bye to 30 minute + battles of trying to get him to sleep.
Our nighttime routine consists of bathtime, lotion, jammies, shutting off the lights, nursing, and cuddles as he goes sleep. Our nap routine starts with a short book followed by some cuddles before he falls asleep. Your routine can be anything that works for you, but try to keep the night routine to 45 minutes or under, and the nap routine to under 10 minutes.
#5 Create a Sleep Cave
Create a sleep cave and put him to sleep in the same spot as much as possible. Use blackout curtains, and loud white noise. The white noise should be as loud as a shower so it can cancel out any external noise and keeps your baby sleeping. I also put him to sleep in the same place whenever we were home so he would know that that is his sleep spot.
Be mindful when choosing white noise. We went with a cute lullaby chime with the sound of water in the background. It seemed like a great idea at the time for something cute for him to listen to. Later we realized how annoying that chime lullaby can be listening to it practically all day and night during all of his naps and bedtime. If I could do it over again I would definitely not include the chime lullaby and kept the white noise to something simpler that’s slightly less annoying to hear through the baby monitor.
Related Post: Dealing With a Colic Baby
#6 Sleep Cues
Pay attention to sleep cues, rather than specific time frames for getting your baby down to sleep. As I talked about in my Battle for Sleep post, I began clinging to a certain system without realizing it could be so hard to put him to sleep because he wasn’t actually tired enough yet. When you pay attention to sleep cues rather than specific times you’re more likely to find the sweet spot that allows for a quick and easy put down for sleep.
Some sleep cues to look out for are:
- Rubbing their eyes
- Becoming cranky
#7 Fall Back on Babywearing
If you’re really struggling and you just need to get baby to sleep try babywearing. Babywearing was such a lifesaver for us. Baby wraps seem to come laced with magic sleep dust that instantly puts any baby to sleep in just minutes. Added bonus it leaves your hands free too! Stay tuned for a full blog post on babywearing!
If you’re dealing with trying to get a newborn to sleep I wish you all the luck in the world. It’s full of lots of ups and downs, but it will get better. There is no right way of doing things, just do what seems right for you and your little babe. <3