Written By Mandy Treeby Chief Baby Sleep Consultant
When expecting a new baby, you get prepared for many things, from birthing classes to nursing classes, but very few parents get prepared for what to expect when it comes to sleep and their new baby.
So, to help you, we’ve compiled 10 proven methods to help soothe your baby to sleep:
1. Make Them Comfortable:
One of the easiest and most effective ways to help your baby sleep better is to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible.
- Fresh diaper: Before every sleep
- Appropriate Layers: Your baby should be dressed warmly but cool enough that they don't overheat. Tip: Flushed cheeks, sweat, damp hairline, and heat rash are signs your baby’s overheating.
- Room Temperature: Babies, like adults, sleep best in a room that's between 68-72° F.
- Dark Room: Darkness encourages bettersleep by triggering the production of the natural sleep hormone melatonin. Be sure to turn off the lights and, if possible, use blackout curtains to make sure your baby's room is as dark as possible.
2. Swaddle Time (up to around 2-months of age):
Swaddling can calm your baby for a few reasons.
- It’s Warm: Swaddling comfortably in a lightweight blanket helps keep your baby warm.
- Swaddling Limits Movement: Newborns don’t have full control of their arms and legs just yet and can wake themselves by flailing their arms or legs while sleeping. Swaddling keeps their limbs safely in place to reduce this possibility.
- It’s Secure: Being wrapped up makes your baby feel comfortable and safe - an ideal mindset for sleeping well.
We have a post dedicated to how to comfortably swaddle your baby, but as a quick reference:
- Use a lightweight cotton blanket for swaddling. This will help prevent overheating.
- Leave enough room for your baby’s hips to wiggle a bit. Swaddling too tight can lead to overheating and hip problems.
When to Stop Swaddling: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should stop swaddling when your baby can roll over on their own. This typically happens around 2 months or soon after.
Tip: If you’re no longer swaddling your baby, you can transition them to pajamas or a sleep sack. A good rule of thumb for dressing your baby post-swaddle is to dress them in one more layer than you would sleep in.
3. Cuddles, Cuddles, and More Cuddles
You probably already shower your baby in love and affection and adoration during the day, but sometimes work, errands, or other obligations can distract us. That said, be sure to take as much time as you can outside of feedings or bath time to make sure your baby knows you're there and love them. This is proven to help babies feel calmer and more secure.
4. Put Your Baby Down Drowsy But Awake
You can help your baby sleep better by putting them in their crib or sleep space when they are drowsy, rather than already sleeping. This is for a few reasons:
- It gives them the space they need to learn to fall asleep independently.
- It helps them get comfortable in their sleep space and know that this is where they sleep.
- It prevents them from waking up and being confused about how they got there.
Signs your baby’s tired can include the following sleepy cues:
- Rubbing their eyes
- Eyes glazing over
- Being Spaced Out
5. Get On Track With Healthy Sleep Habits from Day One: Download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers app and get step by step guidance on sleep environment, sleep habits and sleep schedules so you can stay one step ahead of your baby’s sleep as they develop and their sleep needs change.
6. Call in the Pacifier:
Not all babies enjoy pacifiers, but if your baby does use a pacifier, you can use it to help settle them before bed.
Bonus tip: Though your baby’s crib should be empty of pillows or stuffed animals, you can put in some extra pacifiers to increase the odds they’ll find one on their own if they need one night.
7. Follow a Sleep Schedule:
While your baby’s sleep may be disorganized in the first weeks and months, by around 16-weeks patterns will start to emerge. Sleep schedules help your baby anticipate when it’s time to sleep and ensure they – and you – are getting enough sleep. For help setting a developmentally appropriate schedule download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers app ; it will build a personalized sleep schedule for you and updates automatically as you track sleeps throughout the day!
8. Establish a Bedtime Routine
Soothing bedtime routines are well known to help your cue your baby it’s time for sleep. Common soothing activities might include:
- A bath
- A baby massage
- Getting into PJs or sleep wear
- Fresh Diaper
- Brushing teeth (for older babies)
- Swaying, singing, or rocking
- Dimming the lights
- Reading a story
- Singing a soft lullaby
- Playing soft music or white noise.
What you choose for your bedtime routine is up to you, what’s important is you are:
Consistent: Routines work because they’re - well, routine. This means your bedtime routines should keep the same pace and happen at roughly the same time every night, with some adjustments to changing sleep schedules.
Calm: Routines should be calm and relaxing. That means avoid screens or anything overstimulating for at least a couple of hours before bed.
In Their Sleep Space: At least the last 10 minutes of your routine should be in your baby's room or wherever they sleep. This will teach your baby that that is a tranquil, safe space where they can and should sleep.
9. Keep Night Visits Short and Quiet
It's common for babies to wake in the night. If your baby wakes in the night and cries out and it’s not time for a feeding, first try to see if they self-soothe and go back to sleep on their own.
If your baby continues to fuss, and you need to enter the room, keep the lights off or low, use a soft voice and move slowly. You want to take care of them without exciting or waking them.
10. Hang in There!
Sleep and babies is a learning curve. It’s perfectly normal to feel out of your depth, so if you’re looking for extra reassurance we do recommend downloading the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers app - it is packed with expertise to turn you into a sleep pro and tools to get your baby’s sleep on track, so you can become a dream team!