Baby Sleep Solutions: Bedtime Made Easy

If you’re having trouble figuring out your new baby’s sleep schedule, you’re not alone. Baby sleep is unpredictable, to say the least! Typically, newborns may sleep 16 or more hours a day in short stretches of a few hours at a time. However, by the time your child is 3 months old, he may be snoozing for five hours straight at night. And at 6 months, he could even clock in 9 to 12 hours of uninterrupted shut-eye.

But no baby sleeps by the book all the time. To help guarantee a peaceful night’s rest for you both, start by making the best of bedtime with these baby sleep solutions.

Keep your new baby busy.
A fun-filled day can lead to a peaceful bedtime. Age-appropriate activities, such as a stroller ride around the block and a few sessions of tummy time, will go a long way toward readying your little one for sleep. Getting out of the house, even for just one errand, will help keep your new baby stimulated -- and keep you sane!

Teach him the difference between naptime and nighttime.
Clue your baby into the rhythms of the day by differentiating between naps and bedtime early on. This will help him understand that daytime is for playing and nighttime is for sleeping. When you put your new baby down for a nap, crack the window shades in your nursery to let some light in. Don’t worry about being super quiet around your sleeping baby -- naptime is also your time to get stuff done.

Set the mood.
A tranquil nursery can help turn a boisterous baby into a sleeping baby, so keep the room dark and at a comfortable temperature. A fresh Pampers diaper before lights out is also a good idea. 

Rethink your routine.

You may love winding down from a hard day with a TV show, but your new baby probably prefers peace and quiet while he's having that last feeding of the day. Help him settle down by creating a relaxing bedtime ritual for your little one. Giving your child a bath, reading, and singing his favorite lullabies in a quiet part of the house are all great activities to add to your routine. Just be sure to do the same activities in the same order every night. At the end of your routine, dim the lights and put your baby in his crib while he’s drowsy but still awake so he learns how to fall asleep on his own. To get him accustomed to a sleep schedule, it’s important to put your baby to bed at the same time every night.

Of course, colds, teething, dreams, and noise can all disrupt your new baby’s slumber. Adopting these baby sleep solutions will help your little one get the shut-eye he needs.

Top Tips for a Safe Night’s Sleep

As every new parent knows, it can be challenging just to put your baby to bed, let alone ensure he gets a good night’s sleep, safe from harm. Follow these guidelines to help keep your sleeping baby safe and sound.

Choose firm over soft.

Have your baby sleep on a firm mattress instead of a soft, pillow-top surface. You'll also want to clear your baby’s crib of pillows, stuffed animals, and other soft bedding items. While you may think that cozying up your baby’s crib will make it more comfortable, doing so actually can increase the  risk of suffocation. If your baby falls asleep while out and about in an infant carrier or stroller, move him to a firm surface as soon as possible.

Keep him cool.

To ensure a safe and comfortable night’s sleep for your baby, dress him in no more than one more layer than you would wear yourself, given the room temperature. You can tell if your healthy baby is too hot during the night if he is sweating, if he has damp hair or flushed checks, if he is breathing rapidly, or if his chest is hot to the touch.  Remove any additional layers to help cool him down and be sure to set the room temperature at a level that is comfortable for a lightly dressed adult. 

Place your baby on his back.

Babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep for the first year of life. If your healthy baby is already able to roll from tummy to back and back to tummy on his own, it’s okay for him to do so in his sleep. No need to keep checking in and turning him on his back.

Bedtimes should be filled with sweet dreams. With these safety tips in mind, you are your baby are on your way for some well deserved rest.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Baby Bedtime Routine: 10 to 12 Months

From crawling to improved hand-eye coordination, your baby is advancing in leaps and bounds during the last legs of his first year, and sleep is no exception. By now, he’s probably been weaned off his nighttime feeding routine, and you may notice that his sleep pattern is changing, too. These baby sleep solutions will help ensure that your little one gets the rest he needs during the last few months of his first year.

Put in the hours
Your older baby requires less sleep than he did as a newborn -- about 14 hours in a 24-hour period. However, he’ll still be taking his usual two naps per day, which are important for growth and development.

Keep it consistent
A regular bedtime routine is a big step toward no-fuss nights. However, you may notice that as your baby gets older, his interests change. If your routine isn’t working as well as it used to, consider switching one of the activities in your bedtime routine (say, read a book instead of singing lullabies). Just remember to keep the activities quiet and calming, and do them in the same order every evening so your baby knows to expect bedtime at the end of the nightly ritual.

Don’t linger in your baby’s room
At this age, one developmental milestone is that your baby starts understanding object permanence, or the fact that people and things still exist even when they can’t be seen. Knowing that you’re somewhere else in the house, your baby may make a fuss when you leave the room in an attempt to get you to come back. If you do hear your baby cry out, poke your head back into the room but avoid turning on the light, picking him up, or staying too long. This will help teach your baby to soothe himself back to sleep on his own.

Ensure your baby’s room is safe
At around 12 months, another developmental milestone your baby may reach is the ability to pull himself up to a standing position without help. Be aware of this when evaluating the area around your child’s crib. Remove any artwork or decorations that he may be able to reach.

For older babies (and babies of any age), consistency is key, so aim to keep your child’s bedtime routine constant each day of the week -- even when away from home. A well-rested baby will make for a happy, well-rested mom!

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Baby Sleep Solutions: From 7 to 9 Months

If your baby isn’t sleeping well, you’re probably not getting much shut-eye either. Luckily, at 7 to 9 months, many babies tend to sleep in longer stretches than they did as newborns. But if getting your little one to fall asleep seems to be a regular battle (or if middle-of-the-night cries have you frequently bolting out of bed), it may be time to reevaluate your child’s bedtime patterns. Here, some baby sleep solutions that will help everyone sleep soundly.

Keep bedtime routines consistent
Babies with a nightly bedtime routine sleep better, so consider establishing a relaxing ritual and sticking to it. Keep your evening games quiet and calm, and then dive into your bedtime activities. You could give your baby a bath, read a book, sing lullabies, or flip through a family photo album.

Whatever you choose, do the same things in the same order every night. Always save his favorite activity till the end. (Hint: This bedtime routine is a great way for busy moms to wind down, too!)

It’s difficult -- but wait it out
Your baby is starting to realize that bedtime equals being left alone, and he isn’t happy about it. The result? Sobs and screams that seriously tug at your heartstrings. Your instinct may be to rush in and cradle him, but it’s best to wait a few minutes before reentering the bedroom, to give him a chance to fall back to sleep on his own.

If you do go in to check on your child, soothe him but don’t pick him up, since that can send your bedtime routine back to square one. To prevent your baby from becoming dependent on you being in the room in order to fall asleep, only stay for two to three minutes and then duck out quietly.

Perfect your timing
Schedule the bedtime routine so you put your baby to bed when he is sleepy but still awake. This will help him become accustomed to falling asleep in his crib instead of in your arms. Plus, if he wakes up in the middle of the night (something that’s completely normal at this age), he won’t be dependent on your cradling or rocking to fall back asleep.

Know that these little bumps in your sleep journey will eventually pass. Until then, stay consistent and keep the big picture in mind.

Photo by Bastien Jaillot on Unsplash

Nine Ways to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is scary to think about! It may even cause you to spend a lot of time hovering around your baby’s sleep environment during her first few weeks at home. While experts don’t know all the causes of SIDS, they do know that it’s rare -- and that there are plenty of things parents can do to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Precaution starts during pregnancy. Give your baby a head start by getting proper prenatal care. It’s also essential to refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking or spending time in smoky environments.

2. Place your baby to sleep on her back. Whether it’s naptime or nighttime, babies under 1 year should always sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. The exception: If she rolls onto her side or stomach, it’s OK to leave her like that. She probably has the ability to roll herself back.

3. Place your baby on a firm sleep surface. Your baby’s crib should meet current sleep safety standards (find out more at cpsc.gov) and her mattress should be covered with a fitted sheet.

4.  No extras in the crib. That means no stuffed animals, loose bedding, pillows, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters or any other objects that could potentially suffocate your baby while she sleeps.

5. Sleep near your baby. Keep her crib or bassinet within arm’s reach. But don’t let her sleep in your bed, which can actually increase the risk of SIDS.

6. Breastfeed and immunize. Doing both can reduce the risk of SIDS, according to research.

7. Keep your baby cool. Signs your baby might be too hot include sweating or a hot chest or forehead. As a rule of thumb, you only need to dress her in one more layer than you would wear to keep warm.

8. Offer a pacifier. Pacifiers given during sleep or naptime may reduce the risk of SIDS. But if your baby isn’t interested, that’s okay -- you don’t have to force it.

9. Avoid SIDS-reducing products. Despite what the package’s label might say, wedges, special mattresses and sleep positioners have not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. In fact, they could cause suffocation.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash