A baby’s bad sleep habits can be infuriatingly difficult to address. While parents understand the value and ease of sticking to a daily routine, babies have yet to even fully understand what a day is. After all, they’re still adjusting from months spent in a big wet darkness. The good news? The process tends to get easier over time (not counting the four-month sleep regression) as babies are lulled by the regularity of rest. Still, you’ve got to start somewhere.
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How to Put a Baby To Sleep
- Enforce an early bedtime every night. Babies who go to bed later take longer to fall asleep and wake more at night. The magic bedtime is almost always around 7 or 8 p.m.
- Cultivating a nursery that’s calm, quiet, cool, but not cold. Make it dark, but not too dark.
- Keep a consistent bedtime and a calming routine that includes a warm bath, a massage, and a lullaby to soothe your child to sleep. Consistency breeds comfort so make sure your put-down routine stays more or less the same.
- A typical routine should be short and sweet and move toward the bedroom, and should only take about 15-20 minutes.
- Supplement tried-and-true cradling and swaddling methods with tactical physical contact, essentially helping a restless infant sleep by emulating womb-like sensations.
- Pat their backs in a double-beat, kind of like a heartbeat. Don’t do it forcefully, but a strong pat seems more calming and reassuring to them, almost like a physical distraction that helps them fall asleep.
- Any kind of repetitive touch can lead to calmer transitions into slumber. That could include circular rubbing of the head or caressing the earlobe between the thumb and forefinger.
- Let your baby learn the sensation of falling asleep in the crib or bassinet where they will spend the night, rather than put them in after they’ve fallen asleep. That way, when they wake 45 or 60 minutes later, they won’t need to look for help to fall back to sleep.
- Let your baby self-soothe. Babies who can fall asleep independently will sleep better. Oftentimes, the baby can fall asleep on their own given a few moments of silence and the “tip toe-ing” of an exhausted parent is what really wakes them up.
- If you can’t resist getting up when a toddler wakes up at night, check on them, tuck them in, give a hug and kiss, say goodnight, and walk out. Offer solace, but make it quick.