How to Help Your Baby Sleep

by sheilamarie

Baby in the family? Have you ever wondered whether you will ever get a full night's sleep again? Use bedtime routines to help your baby wind down at night. Read what has helped oth

Sleep is an issue that all new parents struggle with. Even seasoned parents often feel overwhelmed and sleep-deprived with a baby in the house.

What people are comfortable with when seeking solutions about baby's sleep is culturally based, too. You may find it "normal" for your baby to sleep all cuddled up beside you, (and there really is nothing as warm and comforting as that closeness!)

But maybe you are unable to get sufficient sleep to function during the day with your baby sharing your bed, and you would like to teach baby to sleep in a crib.

Although there is no magic, blanket solution that will solve all your sleep issues immediately, here are some tips of what has helped some parents.

Changes in Sleep Often Happen at Six Months

By the time a child is six months old, his developing memory allows him to associate falling to sleep with where he is and what is around him. As he moves through the sleep cycle from REM sleep to a semi-awake state, he will expect to find himself in the same place and with the same conditions that he experienced when he was falling asleep. For an adult, this is when we turn over in bed or fluff up our pillows.

A baby has not yet learned to get back to sleep on her own and seeks the conditions that got her to sleep in the first place. If you sang her to sleep, she will expect you to be still singing to her when she wakes. If you were rocking her, she will expect to be rocked.

This is the point when the baby wakes screaming because he's not in your arms or bouncing up and down in his car seat with the motor revving. Will you ever get a night's sleep again?


World Lullabies

From Around the World
Dreamland: World Lullabies & Soothing...

Bedtime Ritual Is Essential

If you want to avoid becoming a sleep-deprived zombie during your child's early life, keep in mind these three points:

  • Do the same thing in the same order every night leading up to your child's bedtime. Don't vary your routine. It matters less what you do than the order in which you do it. This routine helps your baby click in to the idea that sleep is coming next. In deciding what that routine will be for your child, you can choose from many options, but the important thing is to be consistent and to choose what will calm your child and help her wind down. You may choose to read a book before or after a bath; what matters is that the order of what you do doesn't change. In this way your child receives the message that bedtime is coming and she can psychologically get herself ready to fall asleep.
  • Put your child into his crib before he falls asleep. This way the child will not be surprised when he wakes up. He will know he is in his sleeping place.
  • Help your child to learn ways to settle in to sleep. If she knows how to find her thumb or rub her blanket, she won't demand you to come to her when she wakes in the middle of the night.


Some Practices Parents Have Found Helpful

You probably won't include all of these things in your bedtime routine, but you may want to include a few.

  • Read a story or two, or tell a story from memory
  • Give your child a bath
  • Massage your baby -- start at his head and work your fingers down his trunk and out to his     fingers and toes, being careful not to put pressure on his spine
  • Say some prayers, mention family members who are far away
  • Talk about your day
  • Sing lullabies

Then What?

After you have completed your bedtime ritual, and before the baby is asleep, put her into the crib or bed. You may have to stay nearby for several nights to reassure her, but try to encourage her to soothe herself to sleep. Unless you are free to go to bed at the same time baby does and don't mind being woken up throughout the night, having baby sleep on her own and able to settle herself when she awakens will help your own ability to get the sleep you need. You will be doing your baby and yourself a great favor if you are successful in teaching the child how to fall asleep on her own. The whole family will benefit from a better sleep.

Updated: 10/19/2013, sheilamarie
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sheilamarie on 06/14/2015

That's helpful advice, happynutritionist. Of course, as you've stated, the company must be reliable and you have to use the correct dosage for the child's size and age.

happynutritionist on 06/13/2015

If baby can't sleep due to gas in the stomach, colic for example, I have heard that Catnip and Fennel herb is helpful. I used to purchase it prepared from a reliable company, and the right amount for size of the child must be given.

sheilamarie on 12/14/2013

Thanks for your comment, WriterArtist. New parents need all the support they can get.

sheilamarie on 12/14/2013

Thanks, ologsinquito!

WriterArtist on 12/14/2013

I remember being sleep deprived when my daughter was small. However; these incidences were rare and not routine. I understand how babies can sometimes turn the world upside down. I have known of babies who are awake at night but sleep very peacefully at day time. Your suggestions are very useful for new mothers and to establish a protocol and a pattern for baby's sleeping habits.

ologsinquito on 12/13/2013

I'm pinning this to my Things You Really Need to Know board.

sheilamarie on 10/04/2013

@Dustytoes Aw! That must have been hard!

sheilamarie on 10/04/2013

@teddletonmr They go through little stages where they fear being abandoned. Being a parent requires a lot of patience. It helps if you know what has worked for others.

sheilamarie on 10/04/2013

@ologsinquito Yeah! I hope that trend continues.

dustytoes on 10/04/2013

Three of my kids just didn't want to sleep. I think it's nearly impossible to make a baby sleep who doesn't want to. Just get used to being tired for a while...!

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