Figuring out how to put a baby to sleep (and keep him or her asleep) is a dilemma that has faced generations of new mommies and daddies. With the stress of being a new parent, you desperately need that time when your baby is sleeping to recoup and recover, so that you can be the best parent you can be.
Google “how to get baby to sleep” and you’ll find tens of thousands of results, from the obvious (“put baby in crib”) to the unusual (“run the vacuum outside of the baby’s room “). But what strategies really work? We’ve compiled a list of the best tips we could find on the subject.
Adults typically sleep better after a day full of activity, and babies are no different. Be proactive with your baby’s sleep routine and make sure to give your little one plenty of activity during his or her waking hours. Tummy time, socialization and even just running errands with baby in tow are all ways to inject some stimulus into your baby’s day. When nighttime rolls around, your child will be ready to sleep and the whole bedtime process will be that much easier.
Set the stage
First and foremost, prepare the baby’s environment for bedtime. There’s no “right way” to do this but consider dimming the lights in the baby’s room and playing songs to put baby to sleep. Creating an environment that is conducive to sleep is key to signaling to baby that it’s time to wind down. With the added bonus that it also relaxes parents, (who have no doubt had a long and tiring day as well!).
Establish a routine
In the same way that setting the stage is key to conveying the start of the bedtime routine to baby, the establishment of a routine further emphasizes and signals that it’s time to sleep. What activities you decide to include in your bedtime routine are less important than the consistency with which you do the routine. Bathing, a fresh diaper, pajamas, cuddling with a book and singing a lullaby is a great example of a routine that prepares your little one for some shut-eye.
Timing is everything
A very common mistake with new parents is waiting until baby is asleep before putting him or her down in the crib. The problem with this approach is that making a smooth transition between cradling a sleeping baby and setting them in the crib mattress is hard to do. It often results in baby being startled from their sleep and waking up crying. If you time the transition so that your baby is drowsy, but not yet asleep, you’ll avoid the risk of startling your baby awake.
Bedtime should be a time for you and your little one to wind down together from the day, not a time to stress about whether or not your little one will fall and stay asleep. Give these techniques a try and remember that consistency is key!