I have two kids, and just the thought of ever going through the pure exhaustion that newborn baby sleep causes again makes me cringe.
If your newborn is not sleeping well, it can consume a new mom. I know it consumed me and I probably read every single blog post out there about baby sleep.
The problem with newborn sleep is that new baby’s need to wake up in the middle of the night to feed. And while sleep training or cry-it-out might sound tempting because your baby won’t sleep, even sleep training experts don’t advise sleep training before 4-6 months old.
When you’re a new, sleep deprived mom, 6 months sounds like an eternity!
But there are other things (simple things!) that you can do to help get baby to sleep longer at night. If you are trying to get your baby to sleep through the night, that might not happen, but it’s definitely not impossible.
My first baby was breastfed and she slept 8-10 hours straight at 8 weeks old. By 12 weeks old she was sleeping 10-12 hours straight. My second baby did almost as well as my first, sleeping 8-10 hours straight at about 12 weeks old. They were both amazing sleepers in the newborn stage.
I am convinced that these simple tricks are what helped both of my children to sleep longer stretches.
13 Newborn Baby Sleep Tips and Tricks
Swaddle Your Baby
Not every baby likes to be swaddled, but the majority do. Swaddling works for a reason. It mimics being in the womb. I realized in the hospital that my daughter loved to be swaddled, but our first night home, I found her with the swaddle blanket undone and over her face.
That ruined what little sleep I was getting because I was constantly checking on her until I ordered a SwaddleMe blanket. It velcros so that you can swaddle your baby tightly, and you can rest without worrying that it’s going to become undone in the middle of the night.
Once my second child got a little older and wanted to move her arms a little more, we then switched over to the Woombie, which allows your baby to move but still keeps them from waking themselves up with their startle reflex.
Make sure baby has a safe, comfortable place to sleep
My first child was 100% happy to sleep flat on her back in the Arm’s Reach CoSleeper. My second child, however, was having nothing of it. She despised sleeping flat on her back, and would literally wake up after 15 minutes. The Rock’N’Play was a life-saver because she actually SLEPT in it.
It’s seriously amazing, because it allows your baby to sleep elevated in a completely safe way. It’s cozy, comfy and you can rock it without getting out of bed if baby starts to stir.
And if baby won’t sleep without being near (or on) you, the DockATot allows you to co-sleep safely.
Bedtime routine for baby
A lot of people mistakenly believe that a bedtime routine isn’t necessary until your baby is older.
However, babies are smarter than we think. They can start to identify patterns at as little as 6 weeks old.
Having a routine will help your baby relax because she will know what is coming next. A routine will also help get your baby into a sleepy state.
The bedtime routine that you decide on doesn’t matter as much as the consistency. Following the same routine each and every night will help now and as baby gets older.
Our routine was pretty simple and consisted of a bath, jammies and a lullaby, a book and nursing to sleep.
Use White noise
Sleeping with white noise is going to also simulate the womb where your baby had constant noise. I love the LectroFan. It is a basic, no frills white noise machine that gives you complete control over the volume (and lets you gradually decrease it later on when you want to start taking it away).
Make sure naps are appropriate
Naps should be in a bright room so that baby’s internal clock can adjust if necessary. You should also try to wake baby if she seems to sleep too much during the day (this was my second child).
On the other hand, you should make sure that your baby doesn’t become overtired, because it’s possible that your overtired baby won’t go to sleep or stay asleep.
If you have a baby that fights sleep no matter what, then I’m sorry. I feel your pain. I like to think that sleep-hating kids are smart. (Can you tell that I have one?)
So not overtired, but not undertired either. These babies sure keep us on our toes!
If you’re unsure of how to avoid an overtired baby, check out this baby wake time chart.
Use a glove filled with rice to mimic your hand
This is such a genius idea. If you’ve ever kept your hand on your baby until she was asleep and then ever so gently removed your hand, all while begging the Lord that she will stay asleep, then you will so appreciate this tip.
Make nighttime wake-ups boring
I know your baby is the cutest baby who ever lived, but in the middle of the night, you need to ignore that fact. Don’t make eye contact, don’t talk, don’t stimulate in any way.
Bore your baby to tears, mama.
Put one of your shirts (especially if you are breastfeeding) near baby
One of the first senses that your baby develops is her sense of smell (pretty cool, right?). If your baby can smell you while she’s sleeping, she will be more likely to feel safe and to sleep peacefully.
If you consciously want to co-sleep, then as long as you’re co-sleeping safely, that’s great. However, if you really aren’t a fan of co-sleeping, don’t bring baby into your bed “just this once”. It could be confusing for your baby and could ruin any progress that you’ve made in the sleep department.
Putting baby down in the same place every night can help your baby to know what to expect and to feel at ease.
My friend Jilly at Baby Sleep Made Simple can help you with all of this and more! She has a ton of experience helping moms to get their baby’s to sleep, and she will help you do it on YOUR terms.
She has created a step-by-step baby sleep guide and she is giving it away for free. Click here to get your Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit.
Don’t rush to pick baby up in the middle of the night
Now, I am NOT saying to let your newborn cry-it-out. But babies are NOISY. SLEEPERS. They cry, they groan, they squeak, they smack their lips, they grunt… You get the point. While you definitely don’t want to let your baby cry at this point, you don’t want to pick baby up is she isn’t actually awake.
Make sure baby’s room is just right
Just like you wanted to have a bright room for naps, you want to have a dark room at night. Blackout curtains are so helpful in getting baby’s body and mind ready for sleep
Making sure that baby is not too hot or too cold is also very important. The ideal temperature for baby to sleep comfortably and safely is about 68 degrees (some experts say 61-68 degrees, while others say 68-72 degrees, therefore I’m suggesting 68 degrees).
Newborn Baby Sleep Tips Specifically for Breastfed Babies
If you are breastfeeding, you might find evening cluster feeding really annoying.
But let me just tell you the science behind cluster feeding. Many times, babies cluster feed as a way to “tank up” and sleep longer stretches at night. So grab a snack, a drink, turn on the TV and nurse, nurse, nurse as much as your baby wants in the evening. It just might mean extra zzzz’s for you!
Remember how I told you that my babies were pretty awesome newborn sleepers? I credit cluster feeding the most. I didn’t try to limit them when they wanted to nurse constantly for hours right before bed. I just went with it.
Again, if you are breastfeeding, dream feeding might be an option that will help you avoid the “I just fell asleep and baby is waking me up” scenario. It didn’t work for either of my babies, because they simply didn’t wake up enough to latch, but it’s definitely worth a try.
Dream feeding simply means that you “wake” baby just enough to get her to latch on and nurse a little bit right before you go to sleep. Click to read more about dream feeding.
That’s it! Those are my tips to getting your newborn baby sleeping better and longer. You know, sleeping UNlike a baby. Because whoever coined that phrase obviously had no idea what they were talking about.
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