Helping Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
Updated: Nov 8, 2020
Congratulations, you’ve made it through the unpredictable sleep of a newborn! Now what? If your baby is over 4 months old and is still sleeping for short durations at a time you may be thinking, “When does it get better?!” Not getting enough sleep is hard and it can wreak havoc on your body and your mental health (hey there’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique!). While your baby’s sleep can jump around a lot within their first year pushing you to the brink of insanity, there are easy approaches that you can start implementing today. If you’re a parent who wants to sleep more, here are some ways you can help your baby sleep for longer stretches of time.
Healthy Sleep Environment
This is a simple adjustment that in my experience can work wonders! You can achieve a productive sleep environment by making sure it is dark, cool, and includes white noise. This winning combination is used for both nighttime sleep and for naps. Black out curtains to block out any light that can disrupt melatonin production in your baby are great to create a dark room. Making sure the room is set at the temperature of 68-72 F is a safe and comfortable range for baby. And lastly, using white noise helps drown out any unwanted background noise while also helping soothe and relax baby. Expert tip: Grab a white noise machine that won’t turn off automatically during the night.
Bedtime routines are great indicators to your baby that sleep time is approaching, allowing them to know what's coming next. These routines can be started from as early as 5-6 weeks old and are a great way to stay consistent. Your baby’s bedtime routine doesn’t need to be elaborate, in fact it’s better to make it as simple as possible so you are able to do it every single night! It can look something like this: bath, feeding, book, & sleep. Without a bath, the bed-time routine shouldn’t last longer than 20 minutes.
Learning to Fall Asleep Independently
Sleep is a learned skill just like walking and talking are, and your baby can learn this one too! The biggest roadblock to sleep is when sleep props are created that need to be used each time baby wakes up throughout the night. Sleep props are anything that the baby externally needs to fall asleep and can include things such as feeding to sleep, rocking to sleep, and pacifiers. If your baby is using a sleep prop there's a higher chance they will wake up frequently during the night when they realize that sleep prop is gone. So what can you do? Placing your baby in their crib when they are still awake can help them practice falling asleep independently. If they start to protest that's ok! There are so many gentle sleep techniques to help encourage independent sleep without letting your baby cry, and you can take it as slow as you would like. Your baby is capable of learning how to sleep and they will get there!
Follow a Routine/Schedule
By implementing a routine or flexible schedule, you can create sleep consistency with your baby and can make sure daytime sleep won’t negatively affect nighttime sleep. If babies are sleeping too much during the day, they won’t stay asleep as long at night. This is especially true if baby is “catching up” on sleep during the day after a rough night. Before long they will be stuck in a reverse day/night schedule, and nobody wants that!
However, even with a schedule, life is going to happen and that's ok! Baby is going to fall asleep in the car or in the stroller and sleep is going to be impacted a bit. To help this, you can try to follow the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the time consistently stick to your sleep routine and schedule, and the other 20% it’s ok to deviate a little bit. Sleep can't be perfect all the time and bad sleep days happen to everyone!
Having a baby that doesn’t sleep through the night can be challenging and exhausting! By reaching out for support during these times, you will find that you are not alone and help is here for you. Contact Bethany for a free consultation or follow along on Instagram for expert tips on all things baby.