Helping your baby sleep better

We’ve covered some of the reasons why your baby may not be sleeping through the night. But what can you do to help facilitate better sleep for your baby and your family?

1. Find a location for the baby to sleep that is mutually satisfying for both of you--meaning, you both sleep well when the baby is in this location. 

For some families, bedsharing will result in the most and best sleep for both the mother and her baby. For other families, having the baby in the same room but on a separate surface (such as a bassinet, cosleeper, or crib) produces restful sleep. For others, putting the baby in a separate room works best. Keep in mind that negotiating a mutually beneficial location for sleep may take some time!

2. Develop sleep associations. 

Think about what you want your baby to be doing when he or she falls asleep. Just like a warm bath or a book in bed may help you to fall asleep, babies also develop sleep associations. When they wake up during the night, they look for their “sleep thing” to fall back asleep. Keep in mind, sleep associations are often dependent on the age and temperament of your baby; newborns, for example, rely more strongly on sucking (bottle, breast, or pacifier) to help them sleep than an older baby might. Sleep associations can include:

  • Parent soothing: breastfeeding, rocking, singing, babywearing, or anything that involves the parent assisting the baby with the transition to sleep.

  • Self soothing: pacifier, white noise machine, swaddling, or anything that may involve intermittent comforting from the parent but usually does not involve immediate contact for the full duration that the baby is falling asleep.

3. Help your baby to stay asleep longer by ensuring they are comfortable in their environment. 

Some tips:

  • Dress your baby for the temperature of the room to ensure they don’t get too hot or too cold. About 70 degrees is a good temperature for sleep.

  • If your baby startles easily to sound, create a quiet environment (careful, you want to do this one just at night time--it’s one of the things that helps your baby to differentiate between night and day) or utilize white noise.

  • Darkness. Consider black-out curtains or shades, especially for those babies who are early risers or want to stay up late when the days are longer.

  • Relieve pain and discomfort before sleep.  If your baby is experiencing teething pain, talk to your provider about administering something before sleep so that your baby isn’t too restless.

4. Get help

  • Ask your partner to share in the nighttime parenting workload if they aren’t already.

  • Consider hiring a postpartum doula especially for the phases that are particularly hard: newborns, sleep regressions, and teething.

  • Hire a sleep consultant.

RECOMMENDED BOOKS ABOUT INFANT SLEEP: