Are you at your wits end? Don’t worry, I was in your exact same situation I decided to research everything that I could to save you (and myself) some time, sleep, and give all of you parents out there some well-deserved peace and quiet.
I’m going to give you tips to ensure that your baby will be able to sleep better throughout the night, especially if they are waking up every few hours.
Babies have a different sleep schedule than adults and other children. It can really be frustrating if you realize that your baby is not sleeping when they should. Trust me, as a fellow parent, I know how it feels. However, that’s why I’m here. Let’s dive right in to understand how to achieve a steady sleep schedule for your little one.
Let’s start by order of elimination and knock out the potential simple problems that could be causing your baby to wake up every 2 hours or so.
Two reasons you might have overlooked as to why your baby isn’t sleeping include something as simple as too much sleep during the day or possibly too little sleep during the day.
These two simple factors can drastically affect the way your child is able to sleep throughout the night. It’s very important that your child has a sleep schedule that is consistent. If your child is taking naps throughout the day and afternoon and vary from day to day, this could be one reason why your baby is suffering from sleeping issues.
Another reason why your child may be restless could be that they are just simply hungry! Although, if your baby is over four months old they probably won’t need to be fed overnight.
One important thing to realize is that if your baby only awakens to suck a few times, then it’s probably likely that they aren’t actually hungry. If they were hungry, then this would prolong for much longer, and they would very likely be crying as well.
To make your baby stop waking up every two hours, you should encourage him/her to sleep at the start of naps as well as bedtime. The night restlessness should subside if you consistently follow these steps.
Here are a few tips to get your little one to sleep before bed time or even nap time!
Some of these tips might improve your baby’s sleep, but not all babies are equal and some may react differently than others. Every baby in this world is truly unique!
Once they’ve had their bath and are ready for bed, you can try to read a story or sing a lullaby, give them a calming massage, put on some relaxing music, etc. There are so many different things you can do before putting your child to sleep to help prepare them for bed.
Whatever you choose to do, the most important thing is to keep a consistent bedtime routine. This will tell your baby that “Hey, it’s time to get some sleep soon”. Make sure that you finish your bedtime routine in the same room that your baby usually sleeps in (it’s recommended to sleep in the same room as your baby for the first 6 months too.)
The entire bedtime routine should not be longer than half an hour.
For parents with a baby over six months old – you can give them a security object. This includes:
Never give your baby a comforter or soft toy if he/she is younger than six months. Doing so increases their chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Before you put the toy in the crib, keep it around you for a little bit so that it can have some of your scent on it.
A better option – if you’re breast-feeding, you can put some milk onto a small piece of cotton cloth. Babies have a wonderful sense of smell, so if he/she wakes up startled, then your familiar scent could calm them down.
Every time you do this, check to see if your little one starts to fall asleep on their own. At about the 4 to 5 month old range, they should need less feedings at night. Hopefully, by then, they should be sleeping longer.
If your baby starts crying right when you put them down, listen for just a few seconds before you rush to him or her (even if you want to rush straight to them.) If they need more time to settle, then waiting a moment might give them just enough time.
If they keep crying, you can pat them but remember to signal or tell them that it’s time for bed. You can try leaving the area and waiting a few minutes before checking on them again.
If you’ve tried several times and you feel like you’re getting nowhere, you can pick them up and make sure nothing else is wrong and simply try again.
I know how hard it can be when you’re hearing your baby call for you and you don’t go and immediately check on them. But remember, you’re trying to figure this out so that you get them to sleep on their own, which in doing so, you’ll finally get a wonderful night’s sleep that you deserve.
Have any of you ever heard of The Smart Sleeper? The Smart Sleeper is a neat, yet intelligent bassinet equipped with AI that knows when your baby is crying. When your baby wakes up and needs to be put sleep again, the Snoo Smart Sleeper will vibrate and play white noise until your little one is asleep again. If your baby is crying because they’re hungry, The Snoo will alert you to feed your baby. Isn’t that awesome?
You can buy or even rent The Snoo. If you are interested, read my in-depth review of The Snoo – Smart Sleeper here.
If you’re one of the parents that mostly rocks your baby or feeds them to sleep, then you know how frustrating it is when these methods don’t work sometimes.
If you don’t know any other way to put your baby to sleep, don’t fret. Believe it or not, sleep training does exist. This is how you let your little one essentially teach themselves that they are in fact capable of falling asleep without your help.
Babies older than six months have an easier time falling asleep if they’ve been taught to soothe themselves to sleep.
It’s 100% worth trying.
This varies based on your child’s development. Typically, this is between 4 to 6 months for your baby.
Around this time frame, babies are ready to begin learning how they can fall asleep completely by themselves.
At around the four-month mark, babies will experience sleep regression which means that their sleep cycles are changing and there will be later periods of sleep throughout each cycle.
Some parents feel as though it’s best to wait for their child to settle down before they begin, but really there is no set rule for this, so when you feel as though the timing is right, then you can start sleep training.
Let’s knock out some much simpler strategies to help with your child’s restlessness. These can include:
Still, before we even get to “training” your little one, you need to ensure that you’re following a consistent and regular sleep schedule. This means that you’re putting them to bed at the same or relatively close enough time every night.
At around two months old, you should try putting them in their crib while they are sleepy, but still awake enough for them to be able to fall asleep by themselves. If you keep this up, they should start getting used to it and hopefully start falling asleep around the same time.
Some experts suggest that the best time to feed your baby is at the beginning of your routine so that they won’t associate falling asleep with you feeding them.
Important: your baby’s age determines what kind of sleep training method you should use.
Once you’ve tried everything above and have seen some success, then you’re ready to make your baby fall asleep on their own. Below are six common methods to achieve that:
For this particular method, just keep checking on your baby in intervals but don’t feed/rock them back asleep. If you keep doing that, then they really aren’t falling asleep by themselves.
Once you put your baby back into their crib and wait for a set amount of time, then it’s time to go in and check on your baby and soothe them with some touches/words.
Note: although you may want to, it’s best to not pick them up.
You can keep continuing to check on them, but do so by increasing the amount of time for each visit until you’re visiting them in roughly 10 to 15 minutes intervals.
Continue this until they finally fall asleep. Once they wake up, you can start over!
I know initially this might seem like a lot to deal with, but if you keep working on it, you should start seeing results in about a week.
Basically, for this method, when you hear them cry, you’re going to let them cry.
I personally know how difficult or uncomfortable this can make some parents, so if the thought of this makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, then feel free to skip over this one.
Similar to the above method, you’re going to do your bed time routine and prep your baby for sleep and put them in their crib while they’re still awake and walk out of the area.
The next step depends on where your baby is developmentally. It also depends on what the parents want to do themselves.
There are two ways you can do this:
So many parents are hesitant about this method because there’s so much crying involved with it. I know it will be difficult at first but also give this one a week before throwing in the towel.
However, as you keep up with these methods and are consistent, your nights and theirs should get easier.
This method requires a whole lot of patience from the parents since it can take a long time and can be frustrating.
As you prep your baby’s meal, instead of leaving the area, sit nearby the crib.
As soon as they fall asleep, leave the room, but as soon as they wake up sit back in your chair until they fall asleep again.
After each night, move the chair further and further away until you are completely out of the room.
It’s important to note that while this can be confusing for them to see you watching them cry and not respond, how each baby reacts depends on their age and their development.
Once again, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this simply skip or try a different method.
This method is designed for babies who are under seven months. This method works best if you stay in the room with them.
You can stand by their crib, shush them, pat their tummy, or even give them a calm pat on their head to reassure them.
Another option you can use is to let them cry, but if they don’t improve or get worse, you can pick them up and calm them. Then, try putting them back down before they fall asleep.
This method is great for younger babies! If your baby is more than six months old, you might make them more upset, and picking them up and putting them down might be too much for them.
This method allows you to use whatever you are using previously to get your little one to fall asleep. This could include rocking/nursing. But, you should gradually decrease the time you spend doing these activities until you finally don’t need to do them at all.
This technique is wonderful for lessening the crying at night, but there are some parents who find this difficult to follow through with.
It will take several days to accomplish this, and for some parents that might be just too much.
This method is great for trying because it’s fairly low risk and has a decent chance of working fairly quickly.
While this method seems similar to the above one, it’s actually quite different. Bedtime hour fading is when you put your baby to sleep at the same time that they’re accustomed to or the time that they naturally fall asleep during.
You make sure that they go to sleep at that time for at least a few nights. This ensures that they have a consistent routine but your objective is to get them to sleep earlier by 15 minutes while keeping everything else the same.
Basically, you’re going to keep doing this routine every 15 minutes until they’re falling asleep at the time you want.
For most babies, toddlers, and even preschoolers, their natural bedtime is somewhere around 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM. The time they usually wake up is between 6 AM and 8 AM.
This depends entirely on the parents and what they want to do when it comes to their baby’s routine. Although, for getting your baby ready for sleep, it’s advised that you:
and hopefully, with enough dedication, love, and persistence, they should fall asleep!