One of the biggest challenges experienced by new parents is that of trying to get their newborn to go to sleep at night. Newborns can sleep up to about 16 to 18 hours a day, but they do so in short blocks, waking up frequently (even at night).
Further complicating matters is the fact that newborns have difficulty in telling the difference between day and night. After your baby is a few weeks old, you can start to gently and slowly acquaint him or her with this difference through slowly starting certain techniques for the promotion of good sleep habits.
Here are numerous tips on how to get a newborn to sleep better.
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Better
Strategic Use of Light, to Show the Difference Between Day and Night
One of the first things you can do is to make strategic use of light. Keep a lot of lights on around your baby during the day and keep everything dark at night. This will help your baby be able to distinguish between day and night. Darkness causes the release of melatonin, a sleep hormone, in the brain.
In the daytime, make sure to let lots of sunlight into the house. Also take your child outside for a while each day, whenever possible. When it comes time for your baby’s daytime naps, have him or her take them in a well-lit room. The only exception to this would be if your baby has difficulty falling asleep in such an environment.
Never Let Your Baby Become Overtired
It’s important that you ensure your baby is never allowed to become overtired. When a baby is overtired, it is much more difficult for them to get to sleep than it would be if they were just drowsy. Some signs that your baby is tired and needs a nap soon include:
- Becoming still and quiet
- Losing interest in his or her toys and in people
- Stretching and yawning a lot
- Staring into space with a blank look on his or her face
- Crying and whining
- The look of faint dark circles under his or her eyes
- Using his or her hand to flick his or her ear
- Rubbing his or her eyes
- Burying his or her face in your chest, and/or turning away from moving people or objects
Remember that newborns often cannot stay awake more than two or three hours at a time.
More Tips for Helping Your Newborn Sleep More Soundly at Night
Below are some additional tips for helping your newborn sleep more soundly at night:
- To help your baby feel sleepy at night, you could use dimmers on the lights in their bedroom. Try dimming the lights around two hours before your baby’s planned bedtime.
- Don’t turn the lights or bring your baby into a room with bright lights if he wakes up in the middle of the night.
- You might want to think about installing special room-darkening shades in your baby’s bedroom
- Try to put your baby to bed when she’s sleepy but not yet asleep. This will give her practice on drifting off or soothing herself to sleep on her own.
- When you hear your baby crying over the baby monitor, wait a few moments before going.
- When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night and you go to him or her, avoid making eye contact. Simply soothe the baby back to sleep.
- Use a special nighttime diaper on your baby at night. Don’t change your baby’s diaper when they wake up in the middle of the night, unless there is poo in the diaper (sniff to see if you can smell it). This will help to avoid making your baby so fully woken up that you can’t get him back to sleep.
- Establish a bedtime routine for your baby. This routine could include things such as: a bedtime story you read aloud; changing the baby’s diaper and putting them in nighttime clothes; giving the baby a bath; singing a lullaby to the baby, or turning on a musical mobile; giving the bay a special goodnight cuddle and kiss; and dimming the lights in the baby’s room. It’s important to spend a bit of time unwinding before bedtime. You want to avoid too much stimulation or excitement.
- It is helpful to keep your baby’s room cooler at night and warmer during the day. The best temperature for sleep is thought to be between 65 and 70 Fahrenheit.
- It might seem counterintuitive, but it can be helpful to provide some background music when your baby is going to sleep. You can use a nature sounds CD or a white noise machine. Remember that when your baby was in the uterus, he or she was surrounded by a great deal of steady noise. Some say it is twice as loud as a vacuum cleaner.
- The mother should avoid consuming caffeine. This is because the caffeine can actually make its way into breast milk. If the mother is breastfeeding, the baby might get some of this caffeine and it might make it difficult for him or her to sleep.
- Try to prevent your baby from becoming hungry during the night. One way you can do this is to make feedings more frequent than you would otherwise from 5 pm until bedtime. This will help to ensure that your baby doesn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.
In this article, we have gone over what you need to know about your baby’s sleep and techniques you can use to make it more likely that your infant will sleep during the night. Try some or all of these techniques, whichever you feel will be most effective for your child. Remember not to rush your child.
You will need to work gradually, helping your baby get used to your new practices. Don’t get frustrated or give up. Your baby will eventually sleep through the night.
“Expert Sleep Strategies for Babies”, https://www.babycenter.com/0_expert-sleep-strategies-for-babies_1445907.bc
“Helping Your Baby to Sleep”, https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/getting-baby-to-sleep.aspx
“Establishing good sleep habits: newborn to three months”, https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a7654/establishing-good-sleep-habits-newborn-to-three-months
“The Best Baby Sleep Tips”, http://www.parents.com/baby/sleep/tips/best-baby-sleep-tips
“Sleep and Newborns”, http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sleepnewborn.html