Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep

Establishing healthy sleep habits for your baby takes time, flexibility, and patience. Remember that every baby is unique, and you may need to try different approaches to find what works best for your little one.

The arrival of a newborn brings excitement, but it also comes with challenges, especially when it comes to sleep. Understanding your baby’s sleep needs and establishing healthy sleep habits are crucial for both your baby’s well-being and your own sanity. Let’s explore some science-backed tips and tricks to help your little one sleep better.

Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Needs

Newborns have unique sleep patterns. During the first 2 months, they feed frequently—every 2-3 hours if breastfed and about every 3-4 hours if bottle-fed. This means they may sleep from 10 to 18 hours a day, sometimes in 3-4-hour stretches. However, they don’t differentiate between day and night, so their sleep schedule can be unpredictable.

Setting a Bedtime Routine

Creating a bedtime routine is essential for helping your baby wind down and prepare for sleep. Start by setting a consistent sleep schedule and sticking to it. You can include activities like playing active games during the day and quieter games in the evening. Keep the pre-bedtime activities the same and follow the same order each night.

A warm bath can be a calming part of the routine, and saving your baby’s favorite activity for last in their bedroom can help them associate their sleep space with enjoyable activities. Keep the nighttime conditions in their bedroom consistent, with low lights and minimal talking if they wake up during the night.

Soothing Your Baby to Sleep

When your baby is around 6 to 12 weeks old, soothe them until they are drowsy, and then place them in their crib. This teaches them to self-soothe and fall asleep independently. If your baby struggles to settle, try moving their bedtime earlier, as being overtired can make it harder for them to fall asleep.

Creating a Soothing Sleep Environment

Make your baby’s bedroom a comfortable and soothing space. Keep the room cool, with the thermostat set between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Use blackout curtains or shades to block out light, and consider using a white noise machine to muffle outside noises.

Being Flexible and Patient

Remember that your baby’s sleep patterns will change as they grow. Be flexible and patient, especially during the early months. If your baby is fussy, it’s okay to rock, cuddle, and sing to them. Swaddling can also help soothe a crying baby and prevent startle reflexes that wake them up.

Sharing the Responsibility

If you have a partner, share the bedtime responsibilities. Take shifts so that both of you can get uninterrupted sleep. This will ensure that you’re well-rested and better equipped to handle the challenges of newborn care.

Understanding Sleep Development

In the first few months, your baby’s brain is still learning to differentiate between night and day. Keep middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes calm and quiet to reinforce the idea that nighttime is for sleeping.

Don’t try to keep your baby awake during the day, as overly tired infants often have more trouble sleeping at night. Instead, encourage lots of naps and feedings during the day, following an “eat, wake, sleep” cycle.

Diaper Changes and Feeding Strategies

Change your baby’s diaper strategically. If they wake up during the night, change them before feeding to prevent them from becoming too awake after the feeding. If your baby is very young, they may poop after a night feeding, so wait to change the diaper until after they eat.

The “dream feed”—a feeding given to the baby right before you go to bed—can help prevent your baby from waking up shortly after you fall asleep. This is especially useful during the first 4 months.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Be mindful of your baby’s sleep cues. If you wait too long to put them to bed, they may become overtired, leading to lower melatonin levels and higher levels of wakefulness hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This makes it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Don’t stress about naps too much. Consistency is important, but it’s normal for babies under 6 months to nap in different places, such as on your chest or in a carrier. Most babies don’t develop a real nap schedule until they’re a bit older.


Establishing healthy sleep habits for your baby takes time, flexibility, and patience. Remember that every baby is unique, and you may need to try different approaches to find what works best for your little one. Always consult with your healthcare provider if you have concerns or questions about your baby’s sleep patterns.


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