How to Get Newborn to Sleep

Getting Your Baby to Snooze Without a Struggle

The whole world is a new and confusing mystery to your newborn. So, while sleeping seems as natural as breathing to you, she’s going to need some help in learning how it’s done. First, set her up for a safe night (or morning or afternoon) of sleep by putting her to bed on her back in a crib with a firm mattress and no pillows, blankets or stuffed animals. Then, try out a few tips and tricks to get her to actually fall asleep and stay asleep. No two newborns are the same, so it may take a little trial and error to figure out what works.

Teach Her Day vs. Night

Father Holding Newborn Baby Son In Nursery

How Do I Get Your Newborn to Sleep in a Crib?

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Newborns sleep on and off all day and night. Their stomachs are small, so they need to be fed every few hours, which makes it dangerous for them to sleep more than five or so hours at a stretch. That being said, it’s in everyone’s best interest for your baby to do the bulk of her sleeping at night.

Help her associate darkness with sleeping and light with being awake. During the day, keep her in brightly lit spaces and try to keep her alert by playing upbeat music, talking to her, playing peek-a-boo, and holding her close to your face, so she can study you. (Newborns can’t focus on objects that are far away, so holding things close to her face is the best way to keep her attention.) When she’s awake during the night, keep her in a dimly lit room and use a quiet, soothing voice to encourage her into sleepiness.

Distraction-Proof Her Sleep Space

Some babies are light sleepers. If yours is one, eliminate any potential distractions from her sleep space. This is especially important if you’re sharing a room with her. Set up a white noise machine to block out the sounds of older kids playing, street traffic and other noisy distractions. Set up a small lamp by the door so you can see your way around the room without turning on overhead lights. Change clothes in another room and set your phones to vibrate.

Put Her to Bed Sleepy

Father Holding Newborn Baby Son In Nursery

How to Get a Baby to Sleep in a Bassinet

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When you’re a new parent, you may be especially nervous about disturbing your baby when she’s drifting off. What if you move her, and she won’t go back to sleep? But it’s worth disturbing her now if it helps her nail down a healthy sleep routine. It’s best for her to fall asleep in her own crib because it will then become a habit for her to fall asleep there. If she regularly drifts off in your arms or in her car seat, it will take longer for her to learn to fall asleep in her crib.

So watch for signs that she’s ready to sleep. Yawning, fussing and rubbing her eyes are sure signs that a nap is imminent. Gently carry her to her crib, rub her tummy a few times for comfort, then slip away and hope she drifts off.

Swaddle Her

Wrapping your baby in a swaddle should help her feel warm, cozy and sleepy, just as she felt in utero. Many newborns have an easier time falling asleep when they’re swaddled, so it’s worth trying. If the nurses at the hospital didn’t show you how to do it, ask your pediatrician to demonstrate on your next visit.

A word of caution: Some swaddled infants get so comfortable that it’s hard for them to wake up. Your newborn may sleep so well when swaddled that you’ll have to watch her carefully and wake her up for feedings. It’s also important to keep a swaddled baby from getting too hot, so factor that in when you’re setting the thermostat.