As a new parent, one of your biggest concerns is likely how to get your baby to sleep through the night. It’s an age-old dilemma that seems to pique the interest of everyone you encounter – from your mom to the pediatrician to the overly friendly stranger at the market. And everyone has their own advice to dole out – cry it out, don’t cry it out, it’s just a phase – which they all swear is the end-all be-all answer to your problems.
Here is what we will cover:
About the dark (and blackout curtains)
Baby security with a help of a sleep sac
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The barrage of questions and unsolicited advice regarding how and when your child is sleeping can seem endless (and sometimes maybe even a bit intrusive) – especially if you haven’t yet figured out how to get them settled into a consistent sleep routine and your fatigue is wearing you down. That can be just as exhausting as the lack of sleep you’re already experiencing. If you’ve found yourself at your wits end trying to get your baby or even your toddler to settle down for a good night’s sleep, I can assure you that it’s absolutely normal. I wouldn’t have a job as a pediatric sleep consultant if it weren’t. I’ve experienced this same struggle when I cared for a 22-month old and had to learn how to find what worked best for them, to bring restorative sleep into their lives. And I found myself so passionate about what I learned during that time that I wanted to help other families in their journey as well.
And as I work with families, over and over again I see that even the most veteran of parents may struggle and need some time to unlock the code to restful and peaceful sleep because every child is different and has different sleep needs. (This is particularly true if you have a child who is neurodivergent or has high needs – more on that soon in another post).
Despite those innate differences, there are some common elements that I have found that can really help pave the way to promoting successful sleep across the board, and I’m so happy to share them with you as a jumping off place in your sleep journey.
7 sleep tips to help your baby sleep better
Have a consistent bedtime routine
Knowing what to expect each night before bed can help your baby relax and settle into sleep more easily even as an infant. According to The Sleep Foundation, “research shows that children who follow bedtime routines are more likely to go to sleep earlier, take less time falling asleep, sleep longer, and wake up less during the night.” That sounds like a win for everyone! And it can be, if you take time to create these good sleep habits for your little one – especially when they are still babies! Your bedtime routine doesn’t need to be an elaborate circus act to be effective, either. In fact, keeping it simple and predictable is the key to success here!
Feed your baby, give them a bath and diaper change, read a book and then help them feel safe and secure in their bed before turning out the light. And remember, it takes consistency for a bedtime routine to stick, but once you get it established, it will become a welcome habit that will help your baby get the rest they need to grow and flourish.
Keep it dark with blackout curtains
It can be difficult to fall asleep when light is still pouring through your windows – whether it be the late evening sun or that pesky streetlight at the end of the driveway. Not only is light distracting when it comes to bedtime, it also blocks the production of melatonin in your body – an essential hormone that helps you feel sleepy and regulates your circadian rhythm. I recommend that you utilize blackout curtains in your child’s room to have a consistently dark space for them to fall asleep in, and I have a favorite set of curtains I want to share with you! Sleepout curtains are AMAZING. They come in a little bag. They are portable and they turn literally wherever you’re going into total darkness! It’s one of the best sleep products I’ve come across because not only is it easy to use and install anywhere it helps you and your baby stay in routine no matter where they may need to nap or go down for the night!
They truly are a game changer for quality sleep!
Installation of the Sleepout curtains is a breeze with the included heavy-duty suction cups. This not only makes them portable, but is great for parents who are renting and don’t want to mount hardware to the wall. It’s the most convenient set of curtains I’ve found in my research.
And, unlike other blackout curtains on the market, the 3-pass fabric they use to construct the curtains really does block out 100% of light (most other companies block out 80-90%) and their multiple points of attachment you can use to cover gaps and maximize the blackout. Plus, as an awesome added bonus, they’re committed to using a fabric that is greenguard and OEKO-TEX certified – making them nontoxic and baby safe. Follow this link to purchase your own set of Sleepout curtains. You won’t regret it!
Use code: SLUMBER for 10% off of your order!
Use a sleep sack to help your baby feel secure
Sleep sacks are one of the most under-utilized pieces of baby gear, in my opinion. Essentially, they are a wearable, zippered blanket for your baby. Some have swaddles (for those babies who aren’t rolling over on their own yet, usually less than 4 months) and some are armless but still keep the feet covered and enclosed while still allowing your child to have full range of motion in the hips. One key benefit of sleep sacks, especially in the newborn days, is that they mimic the act of swaddling, which suppresses the startle reflex and helps baby sleep better and for longer stretches. Remember, your baby has spent nine months curled up inside your body and likes the feeling of being snug and cozy! They can also assist with the transition out of swaddling when your child ages out of the newborn stage and starts to become mobile. You can easily keep them in the sleep sack and simply begin the transition by removing one arm at a time from the swaddle portion of the sack to help them learn to sleep with their arms free. When they become accustomed that that, then you can move on to a swaddle-less version and still allow them the comfort and security that the sleep sack provides. I am in LOVE with these sleepsacks in the Nested Bean sleepwear line. They have swaddles, sleeping bags & PJs – so your baby can stay cozy and secure even into toddlerhood (Bonus: They can be turned around and worn backwards for those houdini toddlers that like to undress or take their diapers off!)
While there are several brands of sleepsacks on the market now, these are really cool because they are lightly weighted. They can even help with anxiety because of the pressure they provide. Nested Bean partnered with pediatric pulmonologists to make sure the amount of weight incorporated into the sacks was just enough to replicate the pressure of a parent’s light touch on baby’s chest. They are safe for babies who weight at least 7 pounds, are super breathable and are toxin free. I highly recommend that you incorporate the Nested Bean Zen SleepWear as part of your sleep routine. It’s such an easy tool to use and helps baby sleep so much better.
Make sure the environment is comfortable Just like you, your baby wants to be comfortable when they sleep at night. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Making sure they are wearing the appropriate clothes and have a well-ventilated space is key to keeping their temperature regulated. Generally, it’s best to err on having the room on the cooler side. Our body’s temperatures rise and fall throughout the day, reaching our coolest temperature around 5:00 a.m. When we fall asleep at night, our body temperature naturally begins to drop, so helping baby get to that cooler temperature faster will help them fall into deeper sleep more quickly. Now, I’m not saying make the room an icebox. You want to aim for a room temperature that optimally falls somewhere between 68°F – 72°F. If you have difficulty maintaining a consistent temperature in that range, then you’ll want to dress your baby to accommodate for that.
Stick to a schedule
There’s an old saying that goes, “sleep begets sleep,” and I find that it is 100 percent accurate. The better your baby sleeps, the easier it is to get them to continue sleeping and sleeping well. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School,
keeping a regular sleep schedule—even on weekends—maintains the timing of the body's internal clock and can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily.
One of the best things you can do for your baby to help sleep come easily is to stick to a consistent schedule – both for day and night. Monitor their wake times and make the day predictable with a rhythm around their feeding, play and naps. Then, make sure to make sleep a priority. Letting your baby get overtired really messes with their rhythms and can actually make getting them to sleep even harder! While it may not always be possible, do your best to keep bedtime consistent and on-time each night, for the sake of everyone’s sleep.
Bring on the white noise Babies actually don’t like to sleep in silence. It can be unsettling to them. Think about it – they have been lulled to sleep to the droning and hypnotic woosh woosh of your heartbeat long before they arrived earthside, and that low, calming white noise environment is what they are accustomed to. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a white noise machine that plays sounds reminiscent to being inside the womb, the humming sound of a fan, or the recording of a heartbeat, to calm your baby. These white noise machines can be extremely beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety in babies who can be overstimulated by the day-to-day events of life and help them achieve longer and more restful sleep.
Be patient with yourself and your baby – you’re both learning and and adjusting! There is absolutely no one size fits all method to achieving quality sleep, and it may take time to find what works well for you and your baby. So give yourself some grace and know that you are doing what’s best for your baby. No matter what, your baby is lucky to have you as their parent.
Babies do sleep, they do find their rhythms and eventually everyone will sleep better – trust the process. Even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. If you’re still struggling with baby’s sleep after implementing these tips, please feel free to reach out and schedule a sleep consultation with me. We can work together to find the right plan for your family to have a restful night.
Keywords: how to get your baby to sleep through the night, a consistent sleep routine, sleep routine, nested bean zen sleepwear, Sleepout, blackout curtains,