How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night
When will your baby sleep? If your baby is not sleeping well at night, you are exhausted! In this post I will be sharing easy to implement tips on how to get your baby to sleep through the night.
You can use this as your ultimate guide to baby sleep. Step by step routines will be shared that you can use to get your baby sleeping through the night by 6 months old.
It is important to recognize there are steps to take from as early as the newborn stage that will help set up your baby for a goodnight’s sleep.
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Baby Sleep Gear For Newborns
First, you are going to need the right newborn sleep gear to help set up your baby with good sleeping habits.
If you are breastfeeding, do not introduce a pacifier until your baby is at least 2 weeks old. This will help to avoid nipple confusion.
Pacifiers are great tools for helping your baby self soothe.
For sleepers, I recommend getting the ones with a zipper because they are easier to take on and off. The other sleeper options have a bunch of buttons, which is not as efficient when changing your baby.
After your baby is in a onesie or sleeper and swaddled, you are ready to start putting her down to sleep.
Newborn Sleep And The 5 S’s Rules
Swaddling is so important because the swaddle helps keep your baby asleep.
At one point I thought one of my twins didn’t like swaddling.
However, she also wasn’t sleeping well. My husband and I were so tired staying up all night with her.
But, then we remembered a friend had given us a DVD called The Happiest Baby On The Block.
So, we decided to “force” her into a swaddle and see what happens.
It made a huge difference! J’s sleep improved immensely once we started using the 5 S’s in conjunction with one another.
The 5 S’s stand for:
- Side / Stomach position
It’s too much to go into how to employ all of the 5 S’s here, but I highly recommend getting the Happiest Baby On The Block DVD to find out how to use each tactic.
Trust me, it will come in handy and improve sleep for your entire household.
Establish A Baby Bedtime Routine
In addition to using the 5 S’s for baby sleep, there are other things you should be doing to set your baby up to sleep through the night when she is capable.
The first thing you can do, even when your baby is a newborn, is to have a quick bedtime routine.
A bedtime routine, will set the foundation to cue your baby that it is time to sleep.
I recommend the bedtime routine be something quick and easy. The key is to be consistent every night.
An example of a simple bedtime routine for a newborn could look something like this.
- Change diaper
- Change into pajamas (a onesie or sleeper)
- Hold baby and sing a lullaby
- Put down to sleep when still awake but drowsy
You would start this routine when your baby starts to show signs of being tired and your baby has been awake for approximately the recommended time for her age.
Some typical cues of your baby being tired include:
- Rubbing eyes
- Staring off into space
- Sucking fingers
How To Teach Your Baby The Difference Between Night And Day
There are more things you can do with your newborn to build an even stronger foundation for good sleep habits in the future.
Even though it might not happen right away, you can start teaching your baby the difference between night and day.
At night, during the time you would want your baby to be asleep (even if your baby is not actually asleep), make sure it is darker than normal and keep your house as quiet as possible.
Conversely, during the day, make a point of it being loud and lively in your house. Always make it very bright too.
For example, when my babies were newborns and they were napping, I would run the vacuum cleaner and have them sleep downstairs where it was brighter.
At night, I would have the lights low and keep the house calm. My babies tended to stay up late (until midnight).
It’s okay for newborns to stay up late, just make sure you keep it dim and quiet in the house during the evening.
It’s nice that it’s actually pretty simple to teach your newborn the difference between night and day.
Over the next 4-6 weeks your baby should start slowly adjusting her sleep patterns appropriately.
Setting Good Sleep Habits For Newborns
I have a few more hacks for the newborn stage, to help set the foundation to get your baby to sleep through night.
For night feedings, when your baby wakes up to eat, keep the room as quiet and dark as possible.
Feed your baby, change her diaper (if necessary), and put her back to bed as quickly as possible.
Of course this is sometimes easier said than done, but try your best.
Don’t worry if your baby’s bedtime is late, it will move up as your baby gets older.
If you can get your baby to take a pacifier, it will help immensely with helping your baby self-soothe. So, do your best to make this happen.
I also want to add, it’s actually not too hard to take away pacifiers from toddlers. Trust me, I’ve been there and done that.
I do recommend only allowing pacifier use for helping your baby fall asleep. Try not to use a pacifier when your baby is awake during the day. This will make taking away the pacifier easier in the future.
If your newborn will be sleeping in a bassinet in your bedroom, I recommend having your baby take at least 1 nap per day in her crib in the nursery.
This will help make the future transition to her crib in her own room much easier.
Lastly, it’s important to put your baby down to sleep when she is drowsy, but not fully asleep yet.
Awake Time Between Naps
As far as your baby’s sleep schedule. The most important thing to focus on will be the awake time between naps.
It will not always be exactly in the range listed below, but it should generally be close.
Have your baby follow the chart below for a sleep schedule. This will ensure your baby is getting the appropriate amount of sleep for her age.
If your baby is not getting age appropriate sleep you can end up in a vicious cycle where your baby isn’t sleeping enough, which leads to your baby not sleeping well because she is overtired.
No More Swaddling
After the newborn stage, as early as 3 months of age, you will start finding that your baby is breaking out of her swaddle.
This is your first cue that it is time to transition your baby away from the swaddle.
Around this time, my babies also started sleeping in longer stretches of about 5 or 6 hours at night.
Since my babies were waking less often to eat, swaddling was coming to an end, and I found it distracting to sleep with a tiny human right next to my bed, it was time for the big move to sleeping in a crib in the nursery.
Using The Baby Merlin Sleepsuit For 3 Month Sleep Transitions
My absolute favorite baby sleep item at 3 months is the Baby Merlin Sleepsuit.
Not only does the Baby Merlin help your baby sleep longer when she is no longer being swaddled, but it also helps with transitioning to the larger sleeping quarters of a crib.
It could take a couple days for your baby to adjust to the sleepsuit. I mention this because your baby is going through a big transition.
Be sure to have your baby both nap and sleep in the suit at night for at least 2-3 days, so she can adjust to the new sleeping arrangement.
The Baby Merlin helps prevent your baby from waking up due to Moro reflexes, just like swaddling. It is a great replacement once your baby is too big for swaddling.
Additionally, the Baby Merlin helps your baby feel cozier inside the crib, which is likely much larger than her previous sleeping arrangement.
Once your baby is strong enough to roll with the Baby Merlin suit on, it is time to stop using it.
For my kids, I don’t know that they ever rolled over with the suit on, but around 6-7 months old they were starting to get big for the suit.
Instead of purchasing the 6-9 month Baby Merlin sleepsuit, we decided to start using sleepsacks.
We made this decision because the Baby Merlin suits are expensive and I was worried my babies would start rolling over with it on and it would be a waste of money.
Baby Sleep At 3 Months
I want to share a little bit more information about baby sleep at 3-6 months old.
You should continue doing the bedtime routine you established when your baby was a newborn.
If you don’t have a bedtime routine yet, now is a good time to start. Check out the section near the top of this post on baby bedtime routines.
Something that’s nice compared to the newborn phase, is your baby’s schedule will become a little bit more predictable.
By 6 months, this schedule will be even more clear, but at least you start having an idea on what to expect.
Around 3-4 months old most babies start sleeping in a longer spurt at night. You can expect at least a 4 hour stretch, but hopefully your baby will sleep even longer, about 5-6 hours.
Some very lucky parents will have babies that sleep in even longer stretches by this age.
At 3 months old, it is still normal to have a late bedtime. So, if this is the case with your baby, don’t stress about it.
By 6-9 months old, your baby is likely to naturally move her bedtime earlier. And, if she doesn’t, you will have a more defined sleep schedule, so you can slowly move bedtime to where you want it.
My last piece of advice for baby sleep at 3-6 months, is once you know your baby’s sleep patterns, do your best to stick to them.
They might change slightly day to day, but overall, there is a certain amount of time there should be between naps (see chart above).
Stick to this schedule, so your baby does not become overtired.
Additionally, babies thrive when they have a routine. If your baby knows what to expect, she will sleep better.
Baby Sleep Schedule At 6 Months
Around 6 months of age, your baby will start taking a reliable 3 naps per day.
Once your baby is at 3 naps per day, her schedule will be much more reliable than before.
You can use 3 naps per day as your cue to start working towards sleeping through the night.
Baby Sleep Gear At 6 Months
To get started working towards getting your baby to sleep through the night, you will also need the appropriate sleep gear.
I love sleepsacks because you can continue using them into the toddler years. They come in a variety of sizes, so you can buy bigger sizes as your baby grows.
At 6 months old, sleepsacks are great because they provide warmth when blankets are not allowed in cribs. Additionally, they will help your baby feel cozy inside the large crib.
I also highly recommend getting a video baby monitor. It’s comforting to be able to check on your baby from afar, without having to go into your baby’s room.
How To Get Baby To Sleep Through The Night At 6 Months
In order to get your baby sleeping through the night at 6 months old, you will continue doing a bedtime routine.
You will then put your baby down for sleep while she is drowsy, but not fully asleep yet.
The method I will be discussing to get your baby to sleep through the night is commonly referred to as the cry it out method.
Personally, I was never comfortable doing this until my babies were at least 6 months old.
You will not want to use the cry it out method until your baby is physically ready to sleep through the night, which typically happens around 6 months old.
How To Let Your Baby Cry It Out
The next step is the hardest part, but the biggest reward.
If your baby cries when you put her down to sleep, you will make sure everything is okay. If it is, you will leave the room.
DO NOT PICK UP YOUR CRYING BABY.
This same method can be applied if your baby is waking later in the night too.
Now, comes the hard part, of letting your baby cry. Start by staying out of your baby’s room for 10 minutes.
If she is still crying, go check on her. But, do not talk to her or pick her up.
One thing my kids tried for attention was throwing their pacifiers out of the crib. If this has happened, pick up the pacifier and put it in the crib.
When you are in your baby’s room, make your visit very short and do not give attention to your baby. Again, I want to reiterate, that you do not talk to her or pick her up.
You are just there to make sure your baby is safe and has everything she needs to fall asleep.
Continue letting your baby cry and checking on your baby. However, each time you check on her, the time in between will be longer.
Personally, I started at 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, until I got to 30 minutes in between visits.
You also might find that visiting your baby’s room makes it worse and decide to not make a visit.
This is when the video baby monitor is very useful. Checking on your baby through video helps you feel comfortable that she is safe.
How To Make Sure Cry It Out Works
If you decide to go the route of letting your baby cry at night, the most important thing is to stick with it.
It is heart wrenching to have to sit there and listen to your baby crying. But, it is only for a few days and after that everyone in the house is much happier because they are sleeping much better.
It’s very normal to feel like giving up because the crying can last a long time.
You will also want to make sure that you and your significant other are on the same page regarding letting your baby cry.
You will need each other for support. If one of you feels like giving in, then the other one will be there to say no, we are sticking with this.
Additionally, if only one of two parents is on board with letting the baby cry, it is unlikely to work because it takes discipline to not run in your baby’s room when she is screaming.
What To Expect From The Cry It Out Method
After using the cry it out method with my babies I found the following pattern. Day 1 was hard, but eventually the crying stopped (expect up to 1-2 hours of crying) and my baby went to sleep.
Day 2 was surprisingly easier with minimal crying. This leaves you feeling really good about Day 3.
But, then Day 3 turns out to be even worse than Day 1! Just stick with your plan on Day 3.
Because…by Day 4, my babies were sleeping with no crying at night.
Of course, each baby can be slightly different. Maybe Day 5 will be the magical day for you or you get through Day 1 and have no more crying.
I just wanted to share my experience to give you an idea of what to expect.
How To Deal With Sleep Regressions
You have worked so hard to get your baby to sleep through the night and then, BAM, she gets sick or you go away on a trip.
All of a sudden your baby’s good sleeping habits are gone.
Luckily, it’s not super hard to re-teach your baby to sleep through the night.
Once you are back to your normal routine your baby might return to sleeping through the night.
If your baby does not return to her good sleeping habits, then you should do the cry it out method all over again.
The good news is it should not take nearly as long this time to get your baby sleeping through the night again. Maybe just 1 or 2 days and the crying should be for less time.
Steps To Get Baby Sleeping Through The Night
Now that you’ve read this extensive post on how to get your baby sleeping through the night, you might be feeling overwhelmed.
I just threw a whole bunch of information at you, but I wanted to capture the first 6 months of baby sleep all in one place.
To summarize all the tips from above, I put together a bulleted list for getting your baby to sleep through the night.
Hopefully this list will put into motion the simple steps you can do during each phase, newborn, 3 months, and 6 months old to get your baby sleeping well.
To keep things simple, I suggest focusing on each 3 month block as it comes. It will make the whole process much easier.
Newborn sleep tips:
- Follow the 5 S’s of baby sleep
- Invest in the right baby sleep gear
- Start doing a quick 5 minute bedtime routine
- Make your house is lively during the day and quiet and darker in the evening
- Put your baby down to sleep when she is drowsy, but not asleep yet
3-6 month baby sleep tips:
- Transition your baby to a crib
- Transition away from swaddling – I highly recommend the Baby Merlin sleepsuit
- Use the baby sleep chart to make sure your baby has the appropriate time between naps
6+ months baby sleep tips:
- Once your baby has moved to 3 naps per day you can start thinking about sleep training
- Invest in sleepsacks for your baby
- If needed, use the cry it out method to get your baby sleeping through the night
So, there you have it. All my baby sleep advice for the first 6 months. I hope you found it helpful and are able to use it to get your baby to sleep through the night.
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