Chances are if you have a newborn at home you are pretty tired. And although sometimes it can seem like your baby will sleep all day, a lot of the time it can be quite a chore to get those little bundles of joy to take a nap or go down for the night.
Newborns can cry and fuss and full out scream. They get themselves overstimulated and overtired to the point where they just can’t calm down to sleep no matter how tired they are.
As a mom of 6, I can tell you that no one trick will work for all babies. But over the years I have tried many, many different ways to get my babies to sleep- and stay asleep.
So if you are out there trying to get your newborn to sleep and are at the end of your rope give a couple of these a try and see if it does the trick for your baby!
How to Get Your Newborn to Sleep- and Save Your Sanity!
Using Noise to Help Your Newborn Sleep
Remember, your baby has spent the last 9 months snug and warm and close to the sound of your heart and body. The noise of the outside world was muffled and there was never a completely quiet moment.
And now your baby is trying to sleep in a new world, with all sorts of quiet and sudden noises. It’s a hard adjustment to say the least!
Sometimes constant noise can help your new baby fall asleep easier because it mimics the sounds of the womb. This is often referred to as white noise. Here are some things to try:
Vacuum the room: This goes against most beliefs when it comes to nap time, but it works! Many times I have put a too-tired infant in a bouncy seat, bed or sling and vacuumed the house. They calm down right away and often go to sleep. Bonus- the rooms gets cleaned!
Music: This one can go either way, but my kids have always slept with music on. It’s the only way to break up those sudden noises that come with siblings running through the house.
Any music will do. I found my daughter has a thing for Taylor Swift. And if I played one particular song on repeat during nap time she slept much longer!
White Noise: This was a life saver with my colicky second born. He cried. All. Night. Long. But one night I turned on the baby monitor on the wrong channel and out came loud static.
And he stopped crying and went to sleep!
That baby monitor was my best friend for months. We just slowly lowered the volume every night once he was asleep. They make machines specifically for this purpose. And for my 6th child (also colicky) I used a White Noise Station on the Pandora App.
Turn on the shower: A hot shower is even better since it produces soothing steam. Just turn it on, stand there and let the noise surround them.
Don’t worry about wasting water- anything goes if it means the screaming baby goes to sleep!
The shower worked well for my daughter since the bathroom was close by her bassinet.
Any old noise: Use your imagination- singing, shushing, the hair dryer, the TV. Eventually you will find something that will help get your newborn to sleep.
Using Movement to Get Your Newborn to Sleep
Remember being pregnant, and going to sleep at night only to be woken up by the acrobat inside you?
All day long your baby was rocked to sleep as you went about your day, and when you laid down he was ready to move. Now the baby is out and is expected to sleep still in a bed. No thank you!
Here are some ways to use movement to get your newborn to sleep:
Get a Swing: 5 of my babies took all of their naps in a swing as newborns. (All the boys!)
It was easier for me, especially as a mom of many, and once they were used to being outside of me, I could work on sleep training in their bed.
Bounce: This was the life saver for 3 of my babies Get on that big exercise/stability ball and bounce, bounce, bounce.
Rock: This is a classic one, you know the rocking chair in the nursery. I never had one, but if you do- give it a try!
Go for a Walk. Set them in a stroller and take a walk around the block or down the road. Even up and down the driveway over and over again (I did that one many times!) The outside air, nature to look at and the movement all work together to help lull the baby to sleep.
Other Tips to Get Your Newborn to Sleep
When your baby was inside your womb he was always snug and warm. There wasn’t a lot of stress.
Snug is not a word I would use to describe the outside world, and I doubt your baby thinks so either. Your newborn goes from tight, comfy and warm to cold and with arms and legs flailing.
It’s your job to give them a soothing and safe environment which allows them to get to sleep easier. Here are some ways to help your baby feel soothed and safe:
Use a Carrier: A sling or wrap can be a new parents best friend. Your newborn gets to be nestled next to you and you still get both of your hands.
There are many types of slings out there, so do your research and find one that works for your and your family. I like ring slings and used them exclusively with all of my children.
Swaddle: If you watched the nurses when your baby was born you would have seen them tightly wrap your baby so their arms can’t get free. This helps the newborn feel safe and recreates the tight conditions of the womb.
I never mastered the swaddle of the nurses, but I could get my babies wrapped well enough to stop that dreaded startle reflex from waking them up when I finally got them to sleep. You can use cotton receiving blankets or ones specifically made for swaddling, but getting their arms tight it key.
It is the current recommendation that the arms be freed for longer sleeping. But swaddling is still a great way to help your baby get calm and fall asleep.
Co-Sleeping: Co-sleeping isn’t for everyone, and I didn’t do it exclusively. But there were many nights that I would lay down with my newborn snuggled up against me until they were in deep sleep, then moved them their crib. Your newborn wants to feel warm and safe- and that usually means they want you!
If you choose to co-sleep through the night make sure you use safety precautions and keep pillows and blankets away from tiny newborns.
Sucking: The sucking reflex is very strong in newborns and it helps to calm them and help them fall asleep easier.
If you are a breastfeeding mother, you know that nursing is not only about food, it’s about soothing too.
Some of my babies used pacifiers as well- which can be a good alternative to nursing but has some drawbacks when it comes to sleep as well.
He’s asleep!! Now what? How to Keep Your Newborn Asleep
Success! Your newborn is finally asleep!! But, he’s in the sling, bouncing in your arms, in the bathroom with the shower running, etc.
Now what do you do?
That is the tricky part- getting your newborn into bed and not waking them up. Here are a couple tips to help get them into bed without having to start over at square one:
Make sure they are swaddled to keep them from being woken up by their startle reflex.
Keep a hand on their chest for a few minutes after putting them down to help reduce the risk of the startle reflex
Keep your body with them. When placing them in the crib or bed, bend over as far as you can go with them. The sudden feeling of being dropped and the blast of cold from leaving your warm arms can wake them back up.
If you are using white noise, ease it off slowly. Turn the volume down on the static slowly over a period of 10 min or so. Gradually vacuum farther and farther from the bed. Walk away from the shower while it is still on. Sudden changes in volume should be avoided. Consider play light music in the room all through the night or nap.
Gradually stop movement. Again sudden changes should be avoided. Put a bounce in your step as you walk your baby to the bed. If you newborn is in a bassinet or pack and play give it a little swing or rock toonce the baby is in bed to help keep them stay asleep.
Pray. And hope. And repeat “please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up” over and over again!
If you’ve been through the baby phase, how did you get your newborn to sleep?