8 Baby Sleep Tips That Will Change Your Life
Turn your baby into a sweet dreamer with this expert advice
1. Be your baby's sleep clock. "The sleep hormone melatonin isn't fully produced by infants until at least 9 to 12 weeks, which means they don't have a 'schedule' until then," says "The Sleep Lady" Kim West, author of Good Night, Sleep Tight. During the newborn stage, West recommends you expose your baby to plenty of light during the day and wake her up for feedings if naptime has gone longer than three hours.
2. Keep it dark. To help your baby understand that nights are for snoozing, keep the lights dim during nighttime feedings and feed your baby in the bedroom, suggests West. Blackout shades can also encourage a bit more a.m. sleep.
3. Skip the diaper change. Changing a damp diaper just wakes babies up. Unless the diaper is truly heavy or there's a poop situation, West says don't bother. Instead, use an absorbent overnight diaper and apply a layer of protective barrier cream at bedtime to ensure that your child's skin isn't exposed to too much moisture.
4. Consider the dream feed. If you wake your baby for a feeding before you hit the hay, you'll fill your tot's tank—and everyone in the family may get more shuteye. If you want to give it a go, try it for three days and see if your baby snoozes longer at night.
5. Don't swoop in at the first sound. All babies fuss, grunt, and wiggle at night, says Heather Turgeon, co-author of The Happy Sleeper. Wait and see if your baby will settle down on his own before you assume he's ready for another feeding.
6. Make some (white) noise. It's tough for babies to go from a noisy womb to complete silence at night, says West. Whether you pick a fan or a made-for-baby app, the soothing sound will become a sleep cue (and can camouflage the sound of you tiptoeing away after you've put him to bed).
7. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake. If you wait until your baby is snoozing before placing him in his crib, it will be harder for him to learn to soothe himself when he wakes up, says Turgeon. Routines (even if they just consist of a sponge bath, feeding, and lullaby) can calm down babies so they're ready for dreamland.
8. Know that daytime Z's count, too. Parents often follow consistent bedtime routines, but then they skip them at naptime, says Turgeon. Remember that the more chances your baby learns to self-soothe, the more quickly she'll learn to fall asleep—and stay asleep—day or night.