Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
When I first became a new mom, I was so worried that I was doing everything wrong. By six months, my baby still wasn’t sleeping through the night. I read all the books, and tried all the baby sleep training methods.
Eventually, my baby learned to sleep through the night on her own time. And yours will too. Babies need to sleep for most of the day, but they prefer shorter naps to longer sleeps.
As your baby gets older, she will naturally learn how to sleep through the night.
If you want to guide your baby to a better nights sleep, here are my tips and tricks to gentle sleep training for babies.
- 1 How to Get My Baby to Sleep Through the Night - Tips and Tricks
- 2 Top Baby Sleep Training Mistakes and How To Avoid Them
- 3 Top Tips for Preventing SIDS
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions and Problems
- 5 Be Patient! Night Waking Doesn’t Last Forever
- 6 Coping with disturbed nights?
- 7 The Best Baby Sleeping Training For You
How to Get My Baby to Sleep Through the Night - Tips and Tricks
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A newborn baby won’t sleep through the night, as every new mom learns to her dismay. But, as your baby grows older and reaches 6 months there are some tips and tricks you can use to help your baby.
Getting Your Baby To Sleep
- Early Bedtime
Bedtime should be between 7 pm and 8:30 pm. Your baby should be tired but not overtired. If your baby gets overtired, she might resist going to sleep. Avoid this by having a set, early bedtime.
- Drowsy but awake
Many new moms wait until their baby is asleep before putting her into the crib. But this doesn’t work! Try to put your baby in her crib when she is sleepy but not yet asleep. This way, she’ll learn to love sleeping in her crib.
- Have a Routine
This is the most important thing you can do to help your baby learn to sleep through the night. Have a calm and consistent bedtime routine. This will help your baby learn to fall asleep at bedtime. This routine can include:
- Play active calm, soothing activities in the evening
- Entertain your baby with peaceful activities
- Give your baby a bath
- Read a bedtime story
- Dim the lights and keep everything dark
- Save your babies favorite activity for the very end, and do this one in her bedroom
- Put your baby into her crib at bedtime
- Use a Pacifier
A pacifier, or binky, is the little nipple shaped chewing toy that babies love. If it comforts your baby and helps her sleep, go ahead and use it. Just make sure you wait until she is 2 months old, this way she learns to breastfeed correctly.
- Use White Noise
A small amount of white noise in the nursery can do wonders for helping your baby sleep. Buy a fan or white noise machine to sooth your baby.
- Keep It Dark
The nursery should be very dark, almost pitch black, when bedtime comes around. Infants sleep best in the dark.
What to Do When Your Baby Wakes Up In The Night
Nighttime feeding is totally normal for young babies. Healthy babies can digest breastmilk in under three hours. If you’re little one wakes up to feed in the middle of the night, let her! It’s good for her health and gives you time to bond.
- Give Her Time
If your baby is waking up a lot during the night, try waiting a few minutes before you answer her call. Sometimes, a baby just needs to learn to sooth herself back to sleep.
- Development Stages
Is your baby learning to roll over, crawl, or even walk? Reaching these stages in development is exciting and it may cause your baby to wake up during the night. Try to leave her for a few moments. If she is still calling out, try to calm her down with soothing songs or cooing.
Your baby might be uncomfortable in her crib. Check her diaper, her pijamas, the temperature, and if your baby is sick. Do what you can to make her comfortable again and help her get to sleep.
Top Baby Sleep Training Mistakes and How To Avoid Them
- Relying on Rocking Motion
Don’t rely on using a car, stroller, or rocking motion to put your baby to sleep. Instead, using the rocking motion to make your baby sleepy. As soon as she starts to nod off, transfer her to a crib so she can get used to sleeping in her bed.
- Too Many Distractions
Resist the urge to put up hanging mobiles and other distractions near your baby’s crib. These can excite your baby and make it harder for her to sleep. Instead, keep her sleeping area quiet and dark. Babies sleep best in pitch black rooms.
- Picking your baby up as soon as she cries
When your baby starts to cry, you want to help her immediately. However, if you always pick her up right away, she will never learn to lull herself to sleep. Instead, wait a few moments and eventually, your baby will learn to comfort herself sometimes.
- Putting your baby to sleep with a bottle
Your baby does get sleepy after she eats, that is totally normal. But you shouldn’t always use a bottle to put your baby to sleep. This can actually increase her risk of ear infections, tooth decay, and increases her risk of choking. Instead, rely on a consistent bedtime routine to help your baby fall asleep.
Top Tips for Preventing SIDS
SIDS is, unfortunately, impossible to avoid completely. However, there are some steps you can take to minimize your baby’s risk of SIDS.
- Sleep on her back
You baby should always sleep on her back. If your baby sleeps on her side or stomach, she might roll onto her face and suffocate as she is sleeping. Make sure that everyone who cares for your baby knows how important it is for her to sleep on her back.
- Have a Firm Crib Mattress
A firm mattress makes it easier for your baby to sleep comfortably on her back. Make sure to keep the crib empty, and avoid soft pillows or toys, because these increase the risk of SIDS from suffocation.
- If you want to find the best crib mattress for your baby, this article is for you
- Sleep with Baby Nearby
As we discussed earlier, sleeping with your baby in your bed greatly increases her risk of SIDS. However, sleeping with you baby’s crib in the same room greatly decreases the risk of SIDS! So, sleep in the same room as your baby, just not in the same bed.
Breastfeeding is one of the best things that you can do to help protect your baby from SIDS. In fact, breastfeeding can reduce the risk of SIDS by 50%!
Frequently Asked Questions and Problems
1. My Baby Isn’t Sleeping Through the Night
This is a very common concern among new moms and parents of any child under 1 year of age. All of the many baby books and helpful doctors have advice about how to get your baby to sleep through the night, and this advice can be useful.
Experts say that babies should sleep through the night by 6 months old. However, this might not yet be true for your baby. And that is okay!
The most important thing to remember is that your baby is unique, and you know her best. No matter what the experts say, or what sleep training methods you try to use, the most important thing is that your baby is healthy and bonding with you.
Many babies don't sleep through the night because they wake up hungry. If your baby is a night feeder, don’t worry about it! Feeding your baby is a wonderful time to bond with her and spend time with her. This is especially useful if you are busy or working during the day. Savor this time with your baby!
If your baby is waking up hungry, that doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong. Breast milk is very easy to digest, some babies can digest it in under two hours.
- Another thing to remember is what breastfeeding means to you and your baby.
- Breastmilk is food, but nursing time is also a source of love and comfort for both you and your baby.
If your baby is waking up in the night crying for your breast, remember that this is a chance for you to share love and attention on your baby. She will learn to sleep through the night on her own time.
2. A Normal Night of Baby Sleep
Newborns and young babies need to sleep anywhere between 16 and 20 hours per day.
But not all babies will sleep at the same time, or for the same length of time. What makes your baby fall asleep is unique to her. There is no one normal type of baby sleep pattern. Generally speaking, your baby will sleep longer as she grows and develops further.
Newborn babies, and babies under six months old struggle to sleep for long periods of time. This is normal, and nothing to worry about. As your baby gets older, she will start taking longer naps and sleeping through more of the night. But each baby learns to do this on their own time.
- Don’t try to force your baby to have different sleeping habits. Instead, adjust your own expectations, and learn to guide the rhythm of your baby’s sleep habits, a gentle sleeping training approach is the best approach.
- And remember, if your baby wakes up wanting to feed, this is a good thing! A feeding baby is a growing baby.
Give your baby the nourishment and nurturing that she needs, and she will soon grow into a lovely young child.
3. How can I get my baby used to night and day?
If your baby hasn’t yet learned how to sleep through the night, you might need to guide her a little to understand the difference between night and day. There are a few useful tips you can use to get your baby to understand when it is time for sleep.
- Limit Naptime
- Use Light to Help Your Baby Learn
If your baby loves to sleep during the day, try limiting her nap time. Wake your baby up every three hours, so she still has some tiredness left for nighttime! This is also useful for feeding, because young babies should be feeding about once every three hours.
When your baby takes a daytime nap, make sure you keep the nursery nice and light. Leave the shades open so sunlight can come streaming in. And at night, make sure the opposite is true. Keep your baby’s room as dark as you can, to help you baby sleep for longer periods of time.
4. Why Does My Baby Wake Up At Night?
There are many different reasons that babies wake up during the night. Some of these reasons are perfectly natural and normal, while others may be a sign of a deeper issue. Here are a few of the top reasons why your baby might struggle to sleep through the night:
- Baby Wants Mommy - your baby may just want attention from you. Use this as a chance to bond even deeper with your baby.
- Teething - Teething can be especially problematic for sleeping through the night. If your baby is currently teething, she may wake up from pain or soreness in the night.
- Developmental Advances - if your baby has just learned how to roll over or crawl, she may wake up more during the night because she is excited.
- Illnesses - if your baby is sick, has diaper rash, allergies, or eczema, she may wake up from discomfort during the night.
- Hunger - A hungry baby will wake up wanting to feed in the middle of the night. This can especially become a problem during growth spurts.
- Reverse Cycling - Do you work during the day? Does your baby sleep during the day and eat during the night? If so, she may be reverse cycling.
Keep in mind that there are many reasons babies wake up during the night, and it could be a combination of one or more of these that is waking up your baby. If you aren’t sure why your baby is waking up, you can go through this list to try to figure out the cause of your baby’s sleeplessness.
5. Giving Formula or Solids to Help with Baby Sleep Training?
The question of whether or not to give formula or solids to your baby right before bedtime has long been a discussion among new moms and other experts. And while some people do advocate for using formula during baby sleep training, I personally would argue against it.
Realistically, there is no evidence showing that giving formula to your baby will help her learn to sleep. Despite tests that have been done, the evidence seems to suggest that feeding a baby formula or solids before bedtime will not teach them to sleep for longer periods of time.
Instead, giving formula to a baby just before bed can actually cause problems, especially for the baby’s digestive tract. Babies, especially those younger than six months, can react badly to formula. In turn, they will actually get worse sleep when given formula or solids.
Because formula is not a natural human-made product, it is much more difficult for babies to digest. This makes their little tummies work so much harder at bedtime and can cause them to cry and have an unsettled sleep.
On the other hand, if your baby does enter a deeper sleep after eating formula or solids, this too can be a health risk. Studies have shown that babies who sleep long, deep periods of sleep have a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
6. Is Co-Sleeping or Bed Sharing a Good Idea?
When we talk about co-sleeping, we are really talking about two different ideas.
- The first idea, which I will call bed sharing, involves sleeping with your newborn baby in the same bed as you.
- The second idea, which I will call co-sleeping, involves sleeping with your baby in her crib but in the same room as you.
The first, bed sharing, is generally considered to be a bad idea! Keeping your baby in your own bed greatly increases the risk of SIDS.
There are so many risks to your little one in your big bed. The mattress could be too soft, causing your baby to suffocate. You could roll over in your sleep and smother your baby, or your baby could overheat under your duvet.
- If you are determined to practice bed sharing, make sure you do so safely. Wrap your baby up and keep only a light cover on your bed. Choose a firm mattress, and never ever smoke in bed close to your baby.
On the other hand, co-sleeping, or sharing a sleeping room with your baby, greatly reduces the risk of SIDS. Keeping your baby’s crib in your bedroom will help both you and your baby get a better nights sleep. It makes midnight breastfeeding easier and gives your baby a greater sense of security.
Be Patient! Night Waking Doesn’t Last Forever
I often talk to new moms who are tired, strung out, and worried that their baby will never learn to sleep through the night.
I always have the same piece of advice for these mommies: don’t worry, this won’t last forever. Eventually, your baby will learn to sleep through the night.
Even if you don’t try to use different no-cry sleeping training methods on your baby, she will learn to sleep through the night on her own. This is a natural process that all babies must go through as part of their development.
Don’t rush your baby, let her develop on her own time. Pretty soon, she’ll be sleeping through the night and you’ll be missing your midnight feeding sessions.
Coping with disturbed nights?
If you’re struggling to get a full night of sleep because your baby is crying, there are some ways for you to cope with this. Although there are sleep medications that can help, this should be a last resort. You don’t want to be asleep when your baby needs you!
To cope with insomnia the natural way, try incorporating relaxing activities into your pre-bedtime routine.
- These activities could include yoga, meditation, or anything else that helps you relax.
- Minimize stimuli and stay away from TV and iPads or phones.The light from these electronics can actually keep you awake.
The Best Baby Sleeping Training For You
At the end of the day, the best sleeping training methods are the ones that work for your unique baby. Make sure you take some time to relax and let go of your expectations for your baby. She will develop and learn to sleep through the night on her own time. And when she gets there, you can celebrate with her!