10 Key Ingredients to Getting a Good Night's Sleep
All of the advice for getting your baby to sleep all night can be confusing. Try these simple techniques to get your baby started on the right track.
Create a daily routine. Be sure you are feeding your newborn every 2-3 hours during the day to ensure baby is getting enough calories during the day and not wanting those calories at night. Every 2-3 hours means from the start of one feeding to the start of the next. For example, if baby ate at 7AM, he would need to start eating again between 9AM and 10AM.
Wake baby to feed during the day if it’s been longer than 3 hours since the start of the last feeding. This may be contrary to advice you’ve heard of “never wake a sleeping baby,” but if you leave your baby to do a long stretch of sleep during the day, you will not get that long stretch to be at night.
Purchase a sound machine to keep on during naps and nighttime sleep. Conair Sound Therapy found on Amazon is an inexpensive, great sound machine that does the trick. Be sure to have it 2-3 feet from baby’s crib and turned up loud enough so you can close the nursery door and still hear it when you are standing on the outside of the door. Note: Be sure the timer button on the side is OFF.
Swaddle tightly with both arms down to baby’s sides. Swaddling turns off the “moro” (startle) reflex and flailing arms, creating a more calm and restful baby. Not sure how to swaddle? Check out this super easy to do swaddle video!
Choose a designated bedtime for baby between 7:00PM and 8:00PM. Putting baby in bed early will ensure he does not get overtired or overstimulated. Do not leave baby in the common living areas with you until you go to sleep for the night. This will cause an overstimulated baby! Put baby in his designated sleeping area and try not to disturb him later with lights or stimulation when you go to sleep yourselves if his bed is in your room.
After putting your baby to bed at the designated time, treat all subsequent feedings through the night as nighttime feedings. This means the feedings should be done in as much darkness as possible with the least amount of stimulation possible. You want baby to realize nighttime is for sleeping and daytime is for interacting. Do not use a night light in baby’s room. Only use a very small light as needed for feedings or diaper changes.
Once baby has reached his original birthweight and the pediatrician has said it is ok to no longer wake baby at nighttime for feedings, allow baby to wake on his own for the nighttime feedings. This will help baby establish his own body’s circadian rhythm and pattern instead of creating a habit of being woken every 3 hours throughout the night.
At night, try a method of feeding one breast (or half the bottle), changing baby’s diaper, re-swaddling and feeding the other breast (or other half of the bottle). Be sure baby can stay awake long enough to finish a full feeding, otherwise if baby can’t stay awake long enough to finish the feeding, swaddle at the end of the whole feeding.
Use a bottle as the last feeding (bedtime) for the day. This helps determine that baby is good and full before bedtime and can give you a chance to pump if you're breast feeding and wanting to store milk for later.
At your usual dinnertime start dimming the lights and setting a more calm atmosphere. This will help baby differentiate the end of the day and the start of the night.
I hope you find these tips helpful! What other things have you tried that have worked for you?