The Basic How To’s of Putting Your Baby to Sleep
Once you are aware of the basic How To’s of how you should be putting your baby to sleep, establishing sleep training for them will be a much easier process due to you and your baby already having established and effective sleep habits.
This will be your one big shot at getting a wonderful night’s sleep, despite the fact that you have another member of your family to take care of. A baby who gets a good night of sleep or even a nap, is an overall better baby due to them being more patient, engaging, and having a better mood in general due to not feeling tired.
Trying to get the newest member of your family to sleep peacefully throughout the night or even nap at all is especially difficult for new parents.
My daughter is about 19 months old at the time of this post, and she’s always had a rough time with the subject of sleeping, winding down for sleep, and staying asleep.
The journey of being a parent, and trying to get my daughter’s sleep in check is one of the main reasons why I made this website. I wanted to share everything that I learned along the way of being a parent, as well as myself hoping to prevent lots of potential headaches for new parents too. If I can give tips that are helpful to just one parent, I’ll be ecstatic!
My daughter is still going through her 18th month sleep regression period and I’m counting down the days until she’s finally through this tiresome phase!
Sometimes, as a fellow exhausted, tired, and impatient parent and mother, sometimes I cut corners just so I can get my daughter asleep so I can have some time to get my thoughts together.
Sometimes, I even take naps when I have the opportunity. Okay, I’ll be honest…I take them a lot. If she’s napping, then I can nap too. I’m even guilty of bringing my daughter back to my bedroom, so that I could take a shortcut to sleeping at night. Although it isn’t fair to either of us, sometimes it’s okay to take the easy road some days simply because you just don’t have the energy to do the correct or “proper” thing.
My daughter has her own room right across from mine, so I can’t really ignore her regardless because she’s so close to my room. So, when she calls for me, (more like screams) it makes it hard for me to not immediately go and check up on her. Plus, I thought that once I got my daughter her own bed and sleep trained her in that, that she wouldn’t want to sleep in my bed anymore. Boy, was I wrong about that! She would probably sleep beside me every night if she had the opportunity!
Being a light sleeper definitely has its struggles. Every single sound that my daughter makes, regardless of how loud or not, is enough to wake me up. Although this may be beneficial in the event that I catch something that my husband doesn’t, the fact that it still wakes me up is a negative anyway.
I’ve cut corners a lot just to get some sleep, even some of them I’m not proud of! Sometimes when my daughter’s crying, I’ll give her a little bit of milk in the night, just to get her to sleep quicker. This is a big no-no, because at this stage, my daughter should start being weaned off of night feedings! Yet, I try to cut corners and take the easy way out when in reality, it’s only causing temporary relief for me and my daughter. And I do all these things… Just because I want to go back to sleep.
Here’s a tip: try not to cut corners or take the easy way out when it comes to your baby/child and their sleep. You might end up doing more harm than good in the long run, despite if you get short-term relief or not.
Some Basic Tips on How You Can Put Your Baby to Sleep
Thankfully, with the help of my husband, we are able to take turns and give each other some rest when need be. For all you single moms out there, I truly commend you. You moms don’t even have the opportunity to switch turns with checking up and feeding, plus, just about every task is that much more difficult for you because you don’t have the same level of support that couples have. Communication is key with your partner, and make sure that you’re both on the same page for everything regarding your baby/child.
Whatever you do try doing, remember to keep it as consistent as you can. Consistency is the key to getting your child to sleep by learning the ins and outs of what you should and shouldn’t do. Below is a list of everything that I’ve tried, what worked best, and was most effective for me.
Understanding How Babies Sleep
In the beginning, I figured that if my daughter was more tired and appeared more exhausted, that she would sleep longer, and stay asleep more. I especially thought that keeping her awake longer than usual would be a great way to achieve this. However, there are far few benefits to this in reality.
What you really end up doing is overstimulating your baby which will in turn give them a much harder time to fall sleep and stay asleep. Babies who are overtired do not sleep well, and are usually crankier the next day.
It’s suggested that you restrict their day time naps so that they can benefit the most from nighttime rest. Make sure they are well fed throughout the day so that you can avoid as many nighttime feedings as possible.
Restricting Nap Time Throughout the Day
I know that waking your baby up from sleep might seem counterintuitive, but in reality, when they sleep too long during the daytime, their nighttime sleep will usually suffer from it.
A good rule of thumb is to wake your baby up after they sleep for about two hours so that you can feed them, keep them awake for a little bit after, and then put them down so that they can nap once again.
If you do feel that your baby naps too long, you always have the option to shorten their nap time so that they don’t sleep for more than 2.5 hours. The same can be said in the opposite situation. If you think that your baby doesn’t nap long enough, aim for that same 2.5 hours. By carefully crafting their daytime sleep periods, you’ll be able to help them sleep better when it comes to nighttime.
Dreamfeeding Your Baby
What dream feeding essentially is – feeding your baby right before you go to bed for the night in order to prevent them from waking up a few hours later due to them being hungry.
Even if they are already asleep, you should still gently wake them up at around 11 PM and try to feed them once more before you head to bed.
Research actually shows that if you can feed your baby between 10 PM and midnight, it can reduce the chances of night time awakenings due to hunger for babies that are 3 to 6 months old.
Dream feeding can also be helpful in helping your baby stay asleep longer!
Swaddling Your Baby
The science behind swaddling your baby is that babies typically have a startle reflex the makes them feel as if they are falling. They experience this from as early as birth to about five months old. Swaddling is supposed to help them because by tightly wrapping them, it helps them from being startled awake from these reflexes. Plus, it helps them sleep better and longer.
Remember that your baby spent nine months in your womb all cramped up in a fetal position, so this is a familiar feeling to them.
Using White Noise
If you live in a noisy neighborhood or household, even the most minor sounds can wake up your baby. By using white noise, you’ll be able to help them distract themselves and focus on that white noise. By doing so, they’ll be able to stay asleep with less interruptions.
You can use something as simple as a fan, download some white noise MP3s, or even use a white noise machine. White noise is also a great choice if you need to get your baby to sleep in a louder environment. This is especially useful when you’re traveling somewhere and might be in an unknown or less than ideal place that’s louder than your home environment.
Utilizing the Eat, Wake, Sleep Cycle
What this cycle involves is self-explanatory. It involves waking your baby up, having them eat right away, followed by having them stay awake to play for a set amount of time, and then getting them right back to sleep.
The goal the cycle is to achieve full feedings for them, by having your baby eat right after they wake up. By doing so, your baby will have more energy after waking up so that they’ll be much more willing to wait before being fed again.
By feeding your baby after they sleep rather than instead of before they sleep, it will keep them from associating sleep with food.
Using Routines Throughout Your Day
Because babies have been known to be very susceptible to predictability, routine, and repetition, creating a consistent routine is one of the best things you can do for them.
Their routine can be many different things. It can be very simple, or can have a bunch of steps and pieces to them. Before the nap for example, you might want to take your baby into their room, give them their blanket or sleep sack, sing them a lullaby, cuddle with them for a little bit, reassure them, or maybe even turn the white noise machine on.
Their bedtime routine might be a little longer and slightly different. You might want to give them a massage, a bath, read them a story, feed them, swaddle them, or use white noise.
Regardless of whatever you do choose to do, keep the routine as consistent as possible so that your baby can pick up these little things and start associating them with sleep and naps.
Sleep Training Your Baby
Babies are considered ready to go for sleep training once they are about four months old. At this time, your baby should begin to start sleeping for longer periods of time, and should be at a prime age where they are more susceptible and responsive to various sleep training techniques that you can use on them.
There are several sleep training methods that you can read up on. Choose one that best fits your baby & your lifestyle. Read about the different types of sleep training methods here in my other post.
Being Smart About Diaper Changing
When your baby wakes up, make sure that you change their diaper and swaddle them right after a night feeding so that you can help prepare them for sleep once again.
By not changing their diaper after feeding them, you’ll avoid making them over-alert, which will give them a much harder time to fall back asleep.
It’s very annoying and frustrating to realize that you just woke your baby up essentially for no reason when you could’ve left them alone.
Good quality nighttime diapers are a godsend! If you can, get the ones with gel inside so that it keeps the moisture away from your baby’s delicate skin. Essentially, unless it’s an emergency or a lot of poop, save both you and your baby some hassle and sleep – change the diaper in the morning instead.
Regardless of What You Do, Sleep Regression WILL Happen
Even if you successfully sleep train your baby and everything is absolutely perfect, there eventually will be a point where they start waking you up in the dead of night once again.
Although it might be frustrating, sleep regression is perfectly normal and natural, and signifies that your baby is experiencing so many different developmental milestones. If anything, you can look at in a positive view, it’s a sign that your baby is well on their road to developing.
When sleep regression happens – and it will, it’ll be at the 4 to 9 month mark right around the time when your baby’s sleep patterns change, or even when they experience separation anxiety. Fret not parents, you can easily get through this by going back to the basics of what you know and have taught your baby. If you’re unfamiliar with sleep regression, feel free to look at my post here and learn all about it.
Keep Consistent with Your Routines – Both Day and Night/Bedtime Routines
If you’ve been using one sleep training method this entire time, consider switching to a different one and giving that one a try.
My daughter’s current sleep regression is an absolute nightmare. She wakes me up at around 1 AM to 2 AM several times throughout the week, just to get my attention!
I even try to pretend that I’m still asleep, and hope that she’ll try to put the puzzle pieces together and soothe herself to sleep.
However, when she’s up, she clearly wants me to intervene. She’ll even start crying, then screaming. Eventually, there’s nothing I can do to ignore it until a certain point when me or my husband will have to get up and appease her.
Although, sometimes she does give up and I do manage to get some sleep again.
If she doesn’t, I’ll eventually cave in and get her a bottle which usually ties her over until she falls asleep again. I know this is sort of cheating, but some nights, me and my husband are both so exhausted and it’s incredibly difficult to push through, especially when I’ve been dealing with it for so long now.
The good news is that you probably have a decent idea of your baby’s sleep needs – as well as their likes, dislikes, rhythms/patterns, etc. too. Although everything changes as they age, you as a parent have the best instinct on what you think would be most effective for your baby.
The seemingly limitless amounts of do’s and don’ts, books, videos, science, and blogs behind babies and their sleep is honestly enough to make anyone’s brain explode!
When you think about it and get down to the nitty-gritty, there really isn’t a one single thing that gets your baby to sleep. Usually, by this stage, you’ll realize that it’s a little bit of everything, and a learned intuition on understanding what works best for your specific little bundle of joy.
I hope that some of these tips are able to help some of you utilize them and get some better sleep for both you and your baby. Regardless of all the twists and turns, the best thing you can do is stay as consistent as you can and try to develop healthy sleep habits that are beneficial for your baby.