When your baby keeps you up all night, and you can’t get more than two or three hours of shut-eye at a time, it can feel like your whole world is falling apart. You’re feeling exhausted. You can’t think straight. Your nerves are completely frayed. You wonder when this exhaustion will end, but each night it continues. Did you know that sleep troubles typically don’t go away on their own? That’s right, to fix all the wakings, you may have to do some work. Here are my top five tips to help your baby sleep through the night.
5 Tips for Helping Baby Sleep Through the Night
These tips can help make it easier for your baby to stay asleep at night, giving you both some much-needed rest.
1. Establish a Bedtime Routine
This is the easy part. Start with a solid and consistent bedtime routine at a decent hour (no later than 8:30 pm). This will help teach your baby predictability.1 The more your baby knows what’s coming, the more likely they will accept it. You can start with something simple like washing up, putting on pajamas, and reading a book or two. It doesn’t have to be anything complex, as long as it is the same routine, every night, and at the same time. Eventually, your baby will become used to the process and know it’s time to go to bed since the routine helps signal that.1
2. Create a Good Sleeping Environment
This may include installing room-darkening shades, swaddling if your baby is young, putting on comfortable jammies, setting proper room temperature, etc. Anything you can do to make your baby as comfortable as possible to promote a restful night’s sleep. Babies are picky about comfort. Don’t compromise safe sleep, but make sure your baby’s sleep environment suits them.
3. Lay Your Baby Down Drowsy (But Awake)
Take my advice; unless you want to be up all night replacing that pacifier, comfort nursing, or rocking your baby back to sleep, allow your baby to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. It’s the best thing you can do for their rest.2 Imagine how many extra Zzz’s you can catch if you don’t keep running into the room to put your baby back to sleep. I’m not saying you should never rock or nurse your baby to sleep, but it’s unhealthy if you do so all night. Not for you, and not for them.2 Lay your baby down awake and let them fall asleep independently.
4. Make Sure Your Baby Is Not Hungry
Here’s the thing with hunger: babies can usually sleep through the night when they are developmentally ready to take in enough calories during the day to not wake at night to eat. If your baby’s stomach is not yet mature enough to do this, you can fill them up all you want, but they still won’t sleep through the night.3
A newborn’s stomach is small and needs to grow enough to hold a substantial amount to make it through the night.4 That being said, ensure you give your baby enough breast milk or formula. This way, when they reach that developmental milestone, your baby can sleep through the night and not wake up hungry a few hours later. Experts say this happens anywhere between 3-6 months of age.3,5
5. Don’t Put Off Fixing Bad Habits
If you have been putting off making changes to your baby’s sleep routine for fear of what you might have to deal with, remember it will most likely get more challenging as your baby gets older. Also, remember that tired babies are cranky, so you are not doing your baby any favors by putting things off. When your baby is overtired, this makes skills like rolling, crawling, and standing much harder to accomplish. Can you imagine putting a baby who is not well-rested down on a mat to do tummy time and practice rolling . . . yeah, right!
Babies need to get a certain amount of sleeping hours each day.5 Otherwise, reaching developmental milestones will be extremely difficult for them. Not to mention what the fragmented sleep does to you as a parent! Research shows that interrupted sleep can be detrimental to parents.6 You might feel on edge and anxious about what the next night will be like. Trust me, I know! I have been through months of exhaustion and lack of sleep.
When I finally learned how to get my baby to sleep through the night, I was astonished to find out I was doing so many things wrong. I quickly learned how to fix things, and now I have two wonderful sleepers. And I help parents all over the world with this. So, good luck and happy sleeping!