A Good Night's Rest For You and Your Baby
I’m going to be a first-time mom in August, and one of the things I think I dread the most about being a new parent is the inevitable loss of sleep that comes with raising a child. Fortunately, I have two sisters and many friends who are well-versed in getting their babies to sleep. They have passed along some invaluable information, resources, and tips for getting babies of all ages to sleep at night and how to get them back to sleep if they wake up. Here are some of the best tips out there for how to sleep train a baby.
How to Help Your Baby Fall Asleep at Night
1. Stick to a Consistent Feeding Routine Every Day
Some people may not connect the dots on this one, but a consistent feeding routine throughout the day helps your baby sleep. Often babies awake in the night due to hunger, however, if they are fed consistently throughout the day and cluster fed in the evening, they are more likely to sleep through the night.
2. Create and Consistently Follow a Sleep Schedule and Bedtime Routine
With babies, consistency is key. Having a bedtime routine and sleep schedule that is consistent in timing and activities will help your newborn sleep better; this could include reduced lighting, turning on the sound machine and swaddling, among many other things.
3. Feed Before Bed
For tips on how to sleep train a baby, feed them before bed. It can help your newborn sleep through the night with minimal waking.
4. Use a Sound Machine
If you don’t have a sound machine for your baby, get one. A sound machine helps drown out noises outside the baby’s bedroom that could wake them up. Of course, some sounds may make it through, but a sound machine will help prevent that. It also creates a trigger to let your newborn know it’s time to start sleeping.
5. Make Sure the Baby's Room is Dark
For how to sleep train a baby, give them a dark room to sleep in. It has been proven now by multiple studies that too much light while sleeping can prevent the brain from beneficially entering into sleep cycles. Having a dark room helps ensure your baby’s brain is getting the rest it needs to properly develop.
6. Reduce Junk Light Exposure at Least an Hour Before Bedtime
Similarly to the dark room, too much junk light (i.e., Blue light from screens and LED lights) can prevent the brain from producing melatonin at bedtime, making it take longer to fall asleep. It is why you should keep your baby away from electronics and junk light at least one hour before bed to help them sleep better at night.
7. Use a Pacifier/ Soother
Some parents are concerned that using a pacifier or soother may become a crutch for their child, becoming a hard habit to break. However, babies who use soothers have a significantly reduced risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). In my opinion, the soother is worth it just for that reduced risk.
8. Follow Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s
Finally, the author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, Dr. Harvey Karp’s five S’s can come in handy when putting down your baby to help them sleep through the night. The five S’s are Swaddle, Side-Stomach Position, Shush, Swing and Suck.
How to Get Your Baby Back to Sleep
When it comes to helping babies sleep, there are quite a few methods out there; some people live and die by their loyalty to methods, while others say they didn’t work for their children. The most important thing to remember is to take cues from your child as to what is and isn’t working.
1. Taking Cara Babies S.I.T.B.A.C.K Method
The website takingcarababies.com is quickly becoming the number-one resource for new parents when it comes to getting their newborns, babies and toddlers to sleep. From blog posts to products to consultations, they have everything to help your child sleep. One of the resources they offer is using the S.I.T.B.A.C.K. method for when you have an awake crying baby that won’t go back to sleep. The acronym stands for Stop, wait, watch and observe; Increase the sound of the sound machine; Touch baby’s chest; Binky; Add in rocking; Cuddle; and K – It’s time to feed. You can check out the Taking Cara Babies website to find a full breakdown of each.
2. The Ferber Method
Another popular technique for helping baby sleep is the Ferber Sleep Training Method.
To do this, you follow your regular sleep schedule and bedtime routine; if you have an awake crying baby on your hands, you check in on them at increasing intervals.
- Wait for three minutes the first night that your baby wakes crying.
- Go into the room and comfort them but do not pick them up.
- Leave even if they’re still awake
- If they cry again, wait 5 minutes, then go in and repeat
- Again, if they cry, wait 10 minutes.
The next night you increase the intervals to 5 minutes, 10 minutes and twelve minutes. You can read more about the Ferber Method by purchasing Richard Ferber’s book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.
3. Use Transport Response
Now if your baby is truly awake and distressed, that should never be ignored. New research published in Current Biology in September 2022 shows that using transport response can help reduce a baby’s heart rate and soothe their crying.
Transport response is easy to use. If your baby is crying to a distressed level, pick them up and proceed to walk and carry them for five minutes, then sit with them for eight minutes and put them into their crib to sleep. The research found that it was essential to sit with the baby after walking to ensure the baby’s heart rate has lowered enough for them to not wake up again.