Newborn baby sleep tips for the tired mom.
As soon as your baby is born, sleep becomes your new obsession.
Is he sleeping enough?
How long should my baby sleep at a time?
Ahh! Why won’t this kid sleep?
You’ll read ALL the sleep articles. All the sleep books. Looking for that one tip or hack that makes the difference and gets YOUR baby to finally sleep through, go to sleep, or simply sleep longer than she did yesterday.
Because let’s face it – new mom life is freaking hard and sleep deprivation is torture.
I thought because newborns sleep 18+ hours a day I’d have time to take up knitting, write a book, clean my house, cook delicious meals… haha. That might technically be true but those 18 hours are had in snatches…
If you’re struggling with newborn baby sleep, here’s a collection of the best baby sleep tips to get your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. Gamechanger!
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Are you holding your eyes open with toothpicks to read this post? You need the Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit! It contains (short!) video tips on how to gently teach your baby how to sleep (through the night!), get your baby sleeping in (bliss!) and top tips to help you avoid the worst baby sleep mistakes. Go check it out now (it’s FREE!)
1. The Unbreakable Swaddle
Do yourself a favor and get yourself a set of these swaddle sacks, will you? Old-school swaddling isn’t easy, and if you haven’t done it just right your baby may escape/wake up.
Also, some babies have mad escape-artist skills…
The Love to Dream Swaddle Up was my favorite, and I know you will LOVE it too! My little one slept for over 6 hours straight the first night I got it, and since we were in the throes of a painful sleep regression where he was waking every hour or two… I hold a very, very special place in my heart for the Love to Dream. You saved my sanity!
All I can say is I wished I’d had them from birth. (Which was totally the inspiration behind this post, 10 things I regret NOT buying for my first baby which you might want to read next… Just sayin’ 😉 )
The Love to Dream suit keeps your little one in a cosy and comfortable position so he or she won’t be able to wake themselves up with the startle reflex. Diaper changes are pretty easy too – the zip is double ended so you can unzip from the bottom and get access to the diaper without having to take baby all the way out. Smart!
2. Keep That Crib Warm
Nothing wakes up a warm and sleepy baby faster than being put down in a cold crib.
Pop a heating pad like this one or warming blanket into the crib while you’re doing a night feed or diaper change. Remove it before you put baby back into the crib and he’ll stay asleep.
3. Layer the Bedding
Blowouts and wet-throughs happen. For some reason they seem to be more common at night when the last thing you want to do is deal with finding new bedding and remaking a crib or bassinet. (And waking up baby good and proper.)
Make sure you pick up at least two waterproof mattress protectors like these and at least two sets of sheets. Now build your crib lasagna – mattress protector, fitted sheet, mattress protector, sheet.
Next time there’s a blowout, just whip off the top layers and you’re ready to go. Mommin’ it like a boss!
4. Zippers are king for speedy diaper changes
Give yourself the gift of faster middle of the night diaper changes… forget about snaps, buttons, clips. For sheer ease of use and new-parent-friendliness get zipper onesies and sleepers… seriously.
The faster you get the diaper change done, the less you’ll wake the baby.
If you have the choice between snaps or zips, zips win every time.
5. White Noise Helps
While us adults usually prefer quiet to sleep, for baby, it’s the opposite.
Babies tend to sleep better with white noise. That’s why ‘shushing’ a baby to sleep works so well. But, what they don’t tell you before you become a mom is that it’s really exhausting… especially on broken sleep.
That’s where a white noise app or machine comes in. Personally, I prefer a dedicated machine or toy that you can leave in the baby’s room with them. (That’s my phone.)
White noise also helps to block out other noises, like if you’ve got other kids in the house or live in a noisy area.
Choosing an easily portable toy or a device like the Sound Spa On-The-Go is great so you can take your white noise machine with you and use it during stroller walks, car trips or visiting. I had this toy from Fisher Price, which plays sweet lullabies and vibrates – it worked quite well! And this Lulla Doll was a bit of a craze just after my little one was born… apparently it sounds like Darth Vader 😮 Which totally makes me want it just for that.
6. Blackout Blinds
Older babies and especially toddlers are very sensitive to the amount of light in a room. You can nip this one in the bud by investing in blackout blinds or curtains early.
And while you’re at it, get some for your own room too! Kids aren’t the only ones who sleep better when it’s darker. You’re welcome.
7. Don’t React Instantly to Every Sound Baby Makes
You won’t believe the noises a newborn makes until you have one.
And they do this while sleeping too. Babies are noisy sleepers.
You don’t need to react and pick them up every time they make a sound. It may be that they’re transitioning through a sleep cycle. Don’t leave them to cry, but, if you give them a moment or two they may not fully wake or may fall back to sleep without your help.
8. Stroke baby’s face with a tissue to send them off to sleep fast
Did you catch that viral video from a couple of years back? Here you go:
Isn’t that precious?!
This works best on younger babies. By the time my little one was 6 months old, he’d fight it.
9. Avoid Eye Contact
Never, & I mean NEVER make eye contact with a child on the verge of falling asleep.They will sense your excitement & abort mission! #momlife
— Caffeine & Fairydust (@CaffeineandF) November 14, 2015
10. Wear Your Baby
If you’re struggling to get baby to sleep, a baby carrier can work wonders. Pop baby into the carrier and carry one with your daily tasks (during the day) or if it’s a night waking, pacing works well. Or bouncing up and down on your birth ball. Or going for a walk. Whatever you want to do.
My favorite carrier is a soft, stretchy wrap like this one here. It takes a little bit of origami practice to get it to work, but it’s super comfy when you do. If that sounds like too much work, I feel you!, an Ergobaby Omni 360 will work just as well (and last well into toddlerhood.)
11. Keep Your Birth Ball and Go Bouncing
Some babies LOVE to be bounced. Really. If you’re tired of other methods and you really want to sit down, using your birth ball to gently bounce up and down can make a nice change of pace.
12. Timing is Everything (Sort of)
Over tired. Not tired. The difference between can seem like an eyelash.
Either can ruin your attempts at sleep. The first year is such a mixed bag of sleep changes.
Here’s a couple of things to notice:
- how long does your baby stay awake for? Wake time usually starts around an hour or 90 minutes and increases as your baby grows.
- how long does your baby nap for? You want day naps to be shorter with one or more longer naps overnight (that your baby can consolidate into one stretch when they’re older.)
- learn your baby’s tiredness signs (and watch the clock as well) – put them down when they’re tired, but not overtired.
13. Feed Your Baby to Sleep
Yikes! Did I say that?
Ok, I know feeding your baby to sleep gets a bad rap most of the time.
If you’re desperate, once is not going to hurt.
And, if you keep doing it? I 100% guarantee you that you won’t still be breastfeeding to sleep when your kid is a teenager. Promise.
This is best done with a baby carrier to save your arms (otherwise it’s a bit of a workout).
Pacing helps your baby fall asleep because of the steady rhythmic motion and your closeness and warmth. It may help remind your baby what life was like in the womb.
15. A Baby Swing
Baby swings are amazing at putting baby to sleep.
I was a little late to the game getting one for my boy so we didn’t get to use it as often as I’d like. But, it worked like a charm. The motion of the swing is irresistible and gets many babies to fall asleep quickly.
Mandatory safe sleep note: most swings are not designed for a baby to sleep in them and don’t meet safe sleep guidelines. If your baby does fall asleep in the swing, make sure you check them regularly or practice safely transferring baby to their crib.
Isn’t this the cutest thing you ever saw? Yes, it’s a little plushy with a pacifier attached. When your baby gets a little older, if they fall asleep with a pacifier it can wake them when the pacifier falls out of their mouth. The WubbaNub awesome because it helps baby find and grab onto their pacifier.
And it keeps the pacifier from being lost quite so easily.
Did I mention it’s super cute?
17. Take a Drive
When I was pregnant and as a new mom, I swore that I would NEVER, EVER take a drive to put my baby to sleep.
While I still stand by that, I know for a fact that driving is a great way to put a baby to sleep. After a big morning at play group or a play date, my nap-hating toddler still falls right to sleep in the car.
Keep this one in mind for a last resort!
18. Vacuum Your House
You could just use white noise… but hey, your floor probably is in need of a good vacuum, right?
Double up on these tips by carrying your baby in the carrier, or putting them in the swing while you work.
19. Take Your Baby For A Walk In the Stroller
This is one of my favorite tips because you can combine ‘putting your baby to sleep’ with ‘getting exercise’ and ‘fresh air’.
Taking your baby out in the stroller is a win – win for all involved. It’s also good for your postpartum recovery and mental health too.
You can double this one up with white noise by bringing your portable white noise machine along, or even your phone…
20. Don’t Change Your Baby’s Diaper
What?! Aren’t you supposed to change baby’s diaper every 3 hours?
As a new mom, I changed my baby’s diaper every 3-4 hours religiously. Actually, I changed it anytime the diaper color line turned blue.
Now I know better.
Diapers are very absorbent. Most last for 12 hours (according to the packet). Not that we’re going to leave the diaper for 12 hours, but if there’s no poop, you don’t have to change the diaper overnight or mid nap.
Diaper changes wake a baby up. Not what we’re going for here.
Obviously, if your baby is prone to rashes or gets rashy, do what works best for you.