One of the things we hear so often from new parents is that they all thought it would be much, MUCH easier to get their babies to sleep! After all, for us, sleep seems intuitive, doesn’t it? You get tired, so you go to bed…and then you fall asleep. What’s so tough about that?
Apparently, a lot, if you’re a baby! As you are no doubt aware, the process of going from wide-awake to fast asleep can require a lot of intervention from mom or dad. But since you and your partner are no doubt exhausted just about all the time, you’d probably like to shorten that process and make it easier. Well, look no further; below, we’re highlighting a basic 5-step process that, when done consistently, should help your baby fall asleep (and – fingers crossed – stay asleep!).
How To Get Baby To Sleep In 5 Steps
- Make sure that your baby’s nursery is as sleep-friendly as possible.
- Do your usual bedtime routine.
- Cue your baby that it’s time to sleep by ending your bedtime routine the same way each night.
- Soothe your baby until he’s drowsy enough to fall asleep – but avoid soothing your baby until he actually falls asleep.
- Lay your baby down to sleep. When he wakes, soothe and feed him briefly, and put him right back to sleep.
1. Make sure that your baby’s nursery is sleep-friendly.
You don’t have to break the bank here; you just want to ensure that your adorable nursery décor also facilitates your baby’s sleep. Hanging a pair of blackout blinds is as great place to start; blackout blinds can help your baby nap longer and ensure that your little one doesn’t wake too early in the morning. A white noise machine or white noise app can also help your baby sleep, as it’ll block out all those stray “life” noises (like the traffic outside, or your neighbor’s barking dog, or your doorbell) and keep your baby sleeping peacefully.
2. Do your usual bedtime routine.
Bedtime routines are POWERFUL; when done consistently, they signal to your baby that it’s time to settle in and go to sleep. A bedtime routine doesn’t have to be complicated- a feeding, a little time spent reading a book and singing a favorite song, and you’re all set! However, you do want to ensure that your bedtime routine is consistent – do the same things in the same order each night (that’s what makes it routine, after all.) You’ll also want to make sure that you start your routine at about the same time each night. For additional help, check out this article with 10 bedtime routine tips.
3. Cue your baby that it’s time to sleep.
We recommend that you end your bedtime routine in the same way each night, by saying the same phrase or by performing the same action. This can be whatever phrase or action you want, but when you consistently use it, it sends a strong signal to your baby that the bedtime routine is over, and that it’s time to sleep. Really, the entire bedtime routine cues your baby that sleep is approaching, but your ending phrase of action signals that it’s time to fall asleep. One option is to use something like the Bubzi Co. Soothing Sleep Owl to cue your baby that the bedtime routine is over and that it’s time to sleep; simply end your routine by setting the Owl to play lullaby music.
4. Soothe your baby until he’s drowsy, but not asleep.
Ideally, you’d be able to lay your baby down fully awake (and for some families, that’s one of the desired outcomes of sleep training). However, that’s not always a reasonable expectation, especially for younger babies. Instead, try soothing your baby until he is drowsy but awake. Experiment to see what your baby finds soothing; your baby might like to be rocked, or bounced, or walked around the room. Now, to be honest, drowsy but awake can be tough to achieve, and it may take some practice to find that sweet spot where your baby is sleepy enough to drift off but not so sleepy that…well, that he’s actually asleep! Don’t be discouraged if it takes some practice. And don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work; some babies just are not natural self-soothers, and they have to be taught (via sleep training) how to fall asleep without help. And, of course, if your baby is a newborn, you’ll probably need to soothe him to sleep; he’s likely too young to be able to self-soothe. But as your baby grows, work on drowsy but awake; soothing your baby to sleep every night, or before every nap, will create sleep associations that you have to undo later.
5. Lay your baby down to sleep.
Once your baby is nice and drowsy, lay her down to sleep on her back. She may wake a little, but do your best to soothe her in the crib so that she falls asleep there, instead of in your arms. If your baby wakes between feedings, do the same – try to offer enough soothing that you calm her and help her feel drowsy again, but try not to soothe her all the way to sleep. Staying consistent with drowsy but awake can help set the stage for successful sleep training later, since a baby who has some practice with falling asleep independently likely has fewer sleep associations to overcome.