Sign up to receive your FREE Sleep Guide!
Photo by Dulcet Photography The roughest part of having a new baby is, debatably, the sleepless nights. “How to get your baby to sleep” is, I’m sure, one of the top Google searches at 3 in the morning. Hoping and wishing and praying that your sweet new bundle of joy will just sleep for more than three hours in a row is a nightly ritual for many new parents. So how do you get your kids to sleep? Here are three tips that apply to all families setting sleep routines for babies for the first time.
Set the Routine
As a mother of three young kids, getting my children to sleep was at the top of my priority list and all three of them were different. My oldest started sleeping through the night at about 5 ½ weeks and soon she was sleeping from 10 pm to 10 am every day. My youngest also started early, around 7 weeks and she typically sleeps from 8 pm until 7 am everyday. My middle child? He didn’t start sleeping through the night. But I know exactly what happened: I set a bad routine. Since he and my oldest were sharing a room, as soon as he fussed, I got him up. That became our routine. Once you determine what works best for your family, stick with it. That routine might include a bath, bedtime and a set feeding schedule, but no matter what you do, try not to veer from that routine.
Don’t Quiet Down
When my oldest was an infant, it was really tempting to turn the phone off, put a sign up on the front door and tiptoe from room to room. I’m glad I didn’t. I carried on as normal throughout the house, cleaning, organizing, having friends call or stop by whether she was asleep or not. It taught her to sleep through the noise. This was a total blessing because it meant that she could sleep anywhere when she was tired — including one afternoon when she slept through a dirt track race and a local speedway!
Teach Them to Put Themselves to Sleep
Without a doubt, the best advice I heard was to let my kids put themselves to sleep. When they wake up and fuss, let them cry it out for a while instead of rushing to get them up. It teaches them that I don’t have to be there for them to go to sleep. At first, I felt horribly guilty. My baby was crying and I wasn’t comforting her! But when I saw that she had to learn to put herself to sleep and that by doing so she was actually becoming more rested, I felt a lot better. I gave myself time limits: let her cry for 10 minutes (assuming she was not in actual distress) and then go get her if she was still pretty upset. This absolutely works. My sanity swears by it. When trying to find the best routine for your baby, the key here is just that: find a routine. With a routine, your baby will know what to expect and how bedtime works. If a routine doesn’t work, change it, but you have to give routines time to be able to tell if it will or won’t.