With a new baby in your life, sleep may be a distant memory. Babies tend to sleep in short spurts and stay awake in short spurts. While you might find getting your baby to sleep to be a challenge, it’s also an immense hurdle for your little one, who might need some help from you in developing a sleep routine and learning to relax and drift off to sleep.
Here, leading pediatric sleep consultants offer their tried and true tips for how to get a baby to sleep in any situation. Contributors include Rebecca Nazzal of Dream Big Sleep Consulting, Jennifer Schindele of Gift of Sleep Consulting, Ronee Welch of Sleeptastic Solutions, Visa Shanmugan of Sound Sleepers, Violet Ginnone of Sleep Baby Sleep, Tamiko Kelly of Sleep Well. Wake Happy, Janelle Jeffery of Sleepytime and Teresa Stewart of Stewart Family Solutions.
Their tips will show you how to get a baby to sleep at night and nap time — even if naps occasionally need to happen in a stroller. They also offer advice for handling a baby’s sleep routine when traveling by plane and car. As with all things parenting-related, consistency is key, they say.
Set the Tone
- Keep toys out of the crib.
- Keep the room very dark.
- Make sure any night lights are blue- or amber-colored to prevent stimulation.
- Keep the room at a cool temperature (65 to 72 degrees).
- Don’t overdress your baby. Dress your baby as you would dress yourself for bedtime. If you’re concerned about your baby getting chilly, use a sleep sack or wearable blanket instead of a blanket in the crib.
While Ginnone suggests the use of an “attachment object,” often called a “lovey,” to help your baby settle for the night, be sure not put it in the crib with your baby, per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safety guidelines.
Stick to a Schedule
- Set an early bedtime and enforce it.
- Make a routine and stick to it.
- Keep your baby’s bedtime routine to 30 minutes or less.
- Keep your baby’s bedtime and wake time within the same 30-minute window each day.
- Put your baby to sleep in the same place every night.
- Don’t nurse or feed your baby to sleep.
- Put your baby to bed awake.
- Don’t turn on the lights for nighttime diaper changes or feeds.
- Don’t rock, bounce or cajole your baby back to sleep if he awakens during the night.
- Wait a few minutes before intervening with nighttime wake-ups.
- Be patient and consistent.
Plan for Naps
Nap times are greatly improved, says Nazzal, when you “honor your baby’s nap needs by planning to have him sleep at home during his nap times.”
- Make sure your nap schedule is age appropriate.
- Plan to have your baby sleep at home during naps.
- Run errands and plan outings around your baby’s nap schedule.
- Create a familiar sleep environment at a caretaker’s home.