After going through so many challenges with our first born’s sleep (read about sleep training a toddler) I knew I didn’t want to repeat the same thing with our daughter. Luckily I learned a lot through the process and we had some help from a sleep consultant. With a lot of hard work my daughter Addi has been sleeping through the night since she was 8 weeks old. Every baby is different, but with both my children I have seen how these tips can make a huge difference with your child’s sleep. I really wish I knew about them sooner, but hopefully they can help you get the rest you need.
I should note that it is really important there are no medical concerns with your newborn before you try to get them to sleep long stretches through the night. If there are weight gaining issues, or anything else, make sure you are following your doctor’s or midwife’s advice and waking them to feed if neccessary. I am not a medical proffessional, just a mom of 2 under 2 who has been able to get both my children to sleep well through the night.
How to Get Your Newborn to Sleep Long Stretches at Night
Set Up a Good Sleep Environment
Their sleep space should be dark and free of distracting noises. I highly recommend investing in blackout blinds and a white noise machine. 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 my babies to sleep in the same place whenever we were home so they know that is their sleep spot.
Feed That Baby As Much As Possible
A baby that is well fed during the day will be nice and full throughout the night. They need to get a certain amount of calories in a 24 hour period. If they’re not getting them during the day, the will wake up to get them during the night.
Follow Proper Awake Times
Many people have issues with their baby’s sleep because they’re overtired from staying up too long during the day. Our sleep consultant Sierra was able to help guide us with age appropriate awake times. As soon as we started following those consistently, bedtime went from taking 1+ hours to a quick and simple process where she would fall asleep and stay asleep.
Don’t Let Them Sleep for Long Stretches During the Day
This may seem counter intuitive because you don’t want to wake a sleeping baby, but trust me it helps. Generally you want to cap your baby’s sleep at roughly 2 hours. If you use this rule of thumb you’ll be able to quickly switch your baby’s days and nights and get them on track for good night sleep with long stretches.
Pay Attention to 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 from when we had our first, 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
Set Up Consistent Routines
When you set up consistent routines you help your child learn that it is time to fall asleep. A simple routine that we’ve used for both of our children is bath, lotion and massage, jammies, feeding, quick book, and to sleep. If you feed them right before bed like I do, it is very important that they remain awake during feeding so they can fall asleep easier when you put them in their bed. Your routines should take anywhere from 20-45 minutes, and be on the shorter side when they are younger with smaller awake times.
Give Them a Chance to Work Through Things Themselves
As new parents we want to rush in and fix everything right away. Give your little one time to try and sort things out on their own. They may make noises and fuss a bit, but they may surprise you by falling back to sleep completely on their own. Obviously if they are quite upset you should go in and check on them, but try to give them some time.
Don’t Always Jump to Feeding for Night Wakings
Just because your baby wakes during the night doesn’t mean that they’re hungry. They can wake for other reasons like a dirty diaper or their tummy bugging them. Quite frequently my daughter would wake from her tummy bothering her and all I had to do was bicycle her legs for 15 or so minutes and she would fall asleep again. If they’ve slept a 7 hour stretch for a few nights, and wake up after only 3 or 4 hours, it’s likely that their waking up for a reason other than food. Use your judgement and try not to feed them for similar stretches at night. Generally these stretches will gradually increase as they get older and their tummy’s get bigger.
Teach Them How to Fall Asleep Independently
This is the most important tip, and can be the hardest as new parents. If you want long term sleeping success with your baby you absolutely need to teach them to fall asleep on their own. I highly recommend speaking with a sleep consultant who can give you tips so you can avoid sleep training all together. Sierra from Sweet Sleep has helped us immensely with her newborn and toddler programs. I highly recommend talking to her about her Newborn Sleep Shaping Program so you are able to teach your little one how to fall asleep independently and set them up for success.
Those are the tips that helped us immensely and I know they can help you too. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me through Instagram dm or in the comments below, and you can join Sierra’s Sweet Sleep Parenting Community on Facebook.