How to Get a Baby to Sleep Through the Night
One of the biggest challenges new parents will face with their child is getting them to sleep through the night. Anyone who is already a parent fully understands the stress and exhaustion that accompanies waking up numerous times throughout the night to comfort your crying baby.
While all parents go through this for some amount of time, it makes sense to want to fix this pattern as soon as possible. Of course you love your child, but going through countless sleepless nights is incredibly difficult, especially when coupled with all of the other stresses associated with raising a family.
Thankfully, there are plenty of tips and tricks that will help you get back to a good night’s sleep. While every child is different, meaning there is no one set perfect solution, these tips are a great starting point for you to try with your child.
Develop a Routine
One of the best things you can do for your child is to get them on a steady routine. With time, your baby learns this routine and his or her brain will start to understand the pattern of when it is time to go to sleep and when it is time to get up in the morning. This won’t happen overnight! Developing a routine takes consistent effort. Decide what works for you and your family and map it out so that everyone knows when baby is waking up, when nap time is, and when it’s time for bed. Stick with it! If you only follow the routine a couple times a week, it won’t stick.
If you do stick with it, however, eventually you will notice a change. Not only should getting your baby to fall asleep be easier, you should also notice they are sleeping through the night. Don’t just map out when baby is sleeping, but also set up a routine when it comes to feeding, bath time, and other activities throughout the day. Use bath time as an evening calming activity that helps relax your child and gets them in the right mindset for sleeping. Before you know it, they’ll be sleeping all night long!
Purchase a Sound Machine
Your baby may not be sleeping through the night simply because they are a light sleeper. Outside noises like cars, garbage trucks, or even animals can disrupt your child and wake them at various points through the night or early in the morning. Thankfully, there is an easy solution to this problem! Consider purchasing a sound machine that will block out all other noises. White noise tends to be particularly powerful at helping babies sleep, but other calming noises like rain or ocean waves may help too.
Not only does the sound machine block out other noise, it gives the brain something consistent to focus on, which can help your baby stay asleep. Using a sound machine also gives other family members peace of mind that they won’t be responsible for waking baby. If you worry that your TV, microwave, or cell phone is causing a disturbance, a sound machine is the quickest way to solve the problem.
Stop Nighttime Feedings
This isn’t something you should decide on your own, but rather by speaking with your pediatrician. The truth is that once children reach a certain age (as young as six months old) they do not need to feed during the night. However, by continuing to do so, you are reinforcing the pattern and your child will wake during the night expecting it to happen, even if they don’t need it. Instead, once you get the okay from your pediatrician, consider slowly weaning your child off of nighttime feedings. They may fuss about it at first, but be sure to stay consistent. You aren’t depriving your child of something that they need.
With time, your baby will understand the new routine and won’t wake up during the night expecting a feeding to happen. Just like we mentioned earlier about creating a positive routine, you also have to be aware of any habits you have that may be reinforcing a negative routine. While feeding your child is certainly not a negative, a nighttime feeding is a concrete activity that will block you from a full night’s sleep.
Let Them Do it On Their Own
This may sound harsh at first, but hear us out. This doesn’t mean you place your child in their crib and walk away without a care in the world. Rather, you are simply allowing them to discover on their own that they can fall asleep without additional help. Many parents sit and rock their child to sleep before placing them in their crib. While this is a wonderful activity that helps you bond with your child, the problem is that if you ever decide to stop, your child may get upset and feel they cannot go to sleep without it.
Instead, allow them to fall asleep all on their own. This will also help with sleeping throughout the night. If you always come in and rock your child back to sleep during the middle of the night, they will always cry out and expect that to occur when they wake up. This new pattern will help them understand that they do not need to be rocked, and can simply fall asleep (or fall back asleep) all on their own.
Give Them a Stuffed Animal*
Finally, this tip is marked with an asterisk because you cannot do this with a newborn baby. Newborns have to sleep in a crib that has no blankets or stuffed animals, as it poses a safety hazard. However, once your child is older than 6 months, you can give them either a blanket or a stuffed animal to sleep with. This object can help comfort your child and help them stay calm throughout the night.
Your smell is also a comfort to your child, so consider holding onto it for a while before giving it to your child. The toy will then have your scent on it, which helps provide additional comfort to your baby during the night. This simple trick has helped many parents and helped many babies stay asleep peacefully all night long.