Sleep in Babies: A Definitive Guide for First Time Moms

Published Fri, May 28 2021 5:17 PM Updated Fri, May 28 2021 5:17 PM
Sleep in Babies: A Definitive Guide for First Time Moms

Babies seem to do a lot of sleeping, don’t they? They have a simple life, and sleep is a major part of it.

If only sleep in babies was as simple to figure out..

This article will be your bible when it comes to understanding sleep in babies. We will cover anything and everything that involves sleep, so both you and your little can snooze away!

Why Does Your Baby Need Sleep?

To explain simply, your baby needs sleep because at this age, their body is always changing. And similar to adults, the body does the restoration and healing best in the state of sleep. Your baby is doing all their growing and development in their sleep!

According to research, babies spend up to 50% in dream or memory boosting REM (rapid eye movement), as compared to adults who spend only 15%.

Your baby needs more REM sleep because they have to process everything they are learning. Their little brains get full of the new information they are constantly getting, and they have to sleep to retain that information.

This should explain to you why your baby needs to have frequent naps as well. 

Stages of Newborn Sleep

When it comes to stages of sleep, a newborn sleeps differently than adults.

Here are the stages of newborn sleep :

Stage 1: Drowsiness in Newborns

This is when the baby is on the verge of falling asleep.

Stage 2: REM Sleep in Newborns 

Also known as active sleep, this is when babies tend to twitch or jerk their arms or legs. You will also notice their eyes moving under their eyelids. 

Sometimes in this stage, infants may stop breathing for 5-10 seconds. While this may sound alarming, it is relatively common and they grow out of it by the age of 5-6 months. 

Stage 3: Light Sleep in Newborns

This is the lesser active stage of sleep and breathing is more consistent.

Stage 4: Non-REM Sleep in Newborns 

This stage is when the infant is in their deepest sleep. This is when twitching stops and jerking stops, and the baby can sleep through most inactivity. 

Once the baby goes through these 4 stages of falling asleep, they will go back to stage 3, 2 and 1. 

This is how the baby drifts from light sleep to deep sleep, and they go through this cycle several times the entire time they are sleeping. 

In the first couple of months, babies may awaken as they drift from deep sleep to light sleep because it is something they need to learn how to adjust to. 

How Do Sleep Cycles Progress as a Baby Grows?

As a baby grows, they will experience some changes in their sleep cycles.

Age of 1 to 3 Months

Between the ages of 1 to 3 months, babies sleep for at least 16 hours in the span of 24 hours.

At this age, their bodies have not quite adjusted to day and night timings, and their sleep cycle lasts for an average of 40 minutes. 

This is why babies wake up frequently in the night time, and need to be settled for their next cycle. 

Age 3 to 6 Months

Between the ages of 3 to 6 months, babies still need around 16 hours of sleep but they will be sleeping more in the night time and may only wake up once.

Their day time naps also start lasting longer, and are as frequent as 3-4 times in a day. 

Age 6 to 12 Months

As the baby gets older, they will need around 14 hours of sleep in the span of 24 hours. 

Past the age of 6 months is when baby starts to sleep most throughout the night. This is also when their sleep cycles are similar to those of adults which explains why they sleep longer at night. 

The frequency of day time naps is also less, and they will nap 2 times in the day.

Between the ages of 6 to 12 months, babies have a relative adjusted sleeping pattern and require minimal assistance to be settled, even if they wake up in the middle of the night. 

How Much REM Sleep Do Babies Get?

Newborn babies get up to 9 hours of REM sleep every day. Babies also go right into REM sleep which is the second stage of their sleep cycle.

This is because their brains need to process a lot of information since everything is new to them.

How Long Does it Take for Baby to Fall into a Deep Sleep?

It can take as long as 20 minutes for baby to fall into a deep sleep. 

This explains why babies sometimes wake up 5 to 15 minutes after falling asleep, because they haven’t entered the deep sleep stage. 

How Do You Know When Baby is in Deep Sleep?

Deep sleep is the fourth stage of a baby’s sleep cycle.

You will know your baby is in deep sleep when they are super quiet and not moving. When babies are in deep sleep, they can also sleep through most noise and activity. 

This stage is also known as “non-REM” sleep, so you can notice that their eyes are not moving behind closed eyelids.

How do I get My Baby to Sleep Through a Sleep Cycle?

By teaching your baby to sleep through a sleep cycle, you want to make sure that they are taking at least 60-90 minute naps. 

You can only begin to teach your baby to have longer sleep cycles when they are at least 6 months of age because before 6 months, their sleep cycles are not as pronounced.

Here is how you can teach them to sleep through a sleep cycle:

  • Make sure the room is dark, so they don’t get distracted in case they wake up.
  • Don’t go into the room for at least an hour from when they have fallen asleep.
  • Wait for at least 10 minutes, if they wake up, to attend to them. They might fall asleep on their own and connect the sleep cycle. 

How to Put Baby to Sleep? 

As easy as it may sound, putting baby to sleep can actually be a trick task. If you find your baby waking up before they are supposed to, then you should read this quick guide on putting your baby to sleep.

It is important to note that newborns will take some time to develop a functional sleeping pattern, and they will need to be assisted to sleep in the first 3 weeks. 

When it comes to how you can put baby to sleep, there are a couple of things you can try. We will list down some that have worked for other parents when they put their babies to sleep:

  • Have a routine in place. This is one of the most important things you can do when putting baby to sleep. 30 minutes before baby is supposed to sleep, you should turn the lights down completely, and create a sleep inducing environment such as having some white noise on, or talk to them softly. You should make it a point to stick to this routine, so that baby is well rested and develops a healthy sleeping habit.
  • Try your best to rely on minimal sleep associated activities like walking baby to sleep, rocking them, taking long drives, or anything that involves you soothing them (with the exception of nursing). Newborns need to be soothed to sleep, but past 4 weeks, you should not rely on soothing methods because the baby will be dependent on these methods to fall asleep every time. 
  • Nursing your baby is a good way to put them to sleep because it is very comforting for them. According to several studies , comfort nursing relaxes the baby and is very helpful for sleeping. Nursing baby to sleep is heavily debated, but if it works for you and your baby, you should definitely go for it because it is a very natural and instinctive thing to do.

What is the Best Way to Get My Child to go to Sleep?

Even though babies, who are younger than 6 months of age, don’t have regular sleep cycles, it is still important that they get at least 16 hours of sleep.

Best Ways for Babies to go to Sleep

Here are some ways that you can your baby to go to sleep:

  1. Have a consistent bedtime routine in place, where you certain activities such as dimming the lights, reducing the amount of stimuli in the room, reading a story in the same order and at the same time everyday. Creating a sleep inducing environment in one of the most important ways of getting baby to sleep. 
  2. Put them to sleep when they are drowsy. This will help them to go to sleep faster, and since they will be tired, they’ll sleep longer as well. 
  3. Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature. They should neither be too cold or too hot. 
  4. Having white noise is a great way to get your child to sleep. This will also draw out any other sounds in the house. 
  5. Swaddle your baby before you put them to sleep. This is very comforting for them.

When it comes to getting your baby to sleep, there is not a universal approach that will work for every baby. You will have to try different things and see what works best for your baby.

But the above mentioned things are some of the most common things that should be part of a bedtime routine.

Toddlers

When your baby turns into a toddler, they won’t need as much sleep as they did before but because they have a lot more energy in this age they will get distracted easily.

Here are some ways you can get your toddler to sleep:

  1. Have a bedtime routine in place, and then walk out the room after a while. It might be difficult in the beginning, but they will learn to fall asleep on their own.
  2. Transition your toddler to a different bed from the crib. This will ensure that they don’t hurt themselves while climbing out of the crib, and they won’t feel as restricted when they are in a different bed. 
  3. Give them something they can hug to sleep, like a stuffed animal or a blanket. 

What is Sleep Training? How to Master the Art of Sleep Training?

Babies need to be taught everything, and one of the most important things they need to learn is to be able to fall asleep on their own.  

Sleep training is when you teach a baby to self-soothe and be able to fall asleep independently. This basically means, they learn how to sleep without being rocked, swayed, and cuddled.

An important part of sleep training also includes teaching baby to go back to sleep in case they wake up. 

Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Continue reading on how you can sleep train your baby like a pro!

When to Start Sleep Training?

It is recommended that sleep training be started at the age of 4 to 6 months . This is because before 4 months, babies are too young to be able to self-soothe and they need their parents for that. 

More importantly, infants between the ages of 1 to 3 months also need to be fed more frequently, which also includes night feeds. 

When to start sleep training depends on what stage of development your baby is in, because all babies develop at their own pace. 

You should also know that sleep training is not an essential part of parenting. If the current sleeping habits are working for you and your baby, then you may not want to sleep train. 

But if you are struggling with your baby’s sleeping habits, and they are very dependent on you to fall asleep then sleep training is the way to go!

Sleep Training Methods: What is the Best One for My Baby?

Once you have decided that you want to sleep train your baby, the next thing you need to decide is how you will be going about it.

Here are some of the most common sleep training methods:

1. Cry it Out (CIO) for Sleep Training

The cry it out method is considered one of the more harsher methods of sleep training. It is also one of the reasons why sleep training is discouraged because people have the misconception that it is the only way to sleep train your baby. 

In the most extreme form of cry it out, parents leave the baby in the crib (after having fed them, and changing their diapers) and don’t come back to them till the next day. 

This is not recommended by experts and there are gentler variations of the cry-it-out methods which we will discuss below.

2. Ferber Method for Sleep Training 

One of the more gentler variations of the CIO method, is the Ferber Method which involves parents checking on baby, without consoling them, at increasingly spaced intervals .

For example, you will first go to check up on the baby after 3 minutes of them crying, then after 5 minutes and then after 10 minutes. 

The next cycle of check up will be increased by 1 minute so it will be 4,6, and 11 minutes and so on.

The purpose of the Ferber Method is to assure baby that an adult is nearby, but you will still reduce your presence in the room gradually. 

By the end of the training, baby will have learned how to self soothe and will be able to sleep on their own.

3. Controlled Crying for Sleep Training 

Similar to the Ferber method, controlled crying also involves checking up on baby at spaced intervals. 

But in the controlled crying method, baby will be calmed down during the check in periods. 

4. Chair Method for Sleep Training

With the chair method of sleep training, you will be sitting on the chair near to your baby’s crib but you won’t pick them up.

Each night, the chair should be moved further away from the crib.

This method will not work on babies who cannot put their parents’ faces out of their minds until they are out of sight. 

It also might cause them to be startled, and cry more if they wake up and don’t see an adult nearby.

5. Pick Up, Put Down Method for Sleep Training

The pick up, put down method of sleep training requires a lot of patience. In this method, you will pick up baby whenever they cry, calm them down and put them down to sleep again. 

This is the most gentle version of sleep training, but it might take more time to see results. 

6. Bedtime Fading Method for Sleep Training

This method is ideal for babies who never seem to be tired at their bedtimes, or will cry an extensive amount before falling asleep. 

The bedtime fading method will adjust her circadian rhythm – which is the sleep-wake cycle of the body’s internal clock – to the point where baby falls asleep when you want them to. 

Here is how it will work:

  • When baby starts giving the typical sleep cues, i.e. rubbing eyes, yawning, being fussy, etc., you will put them to bed. 
  • If they start to cry when put to bed, you should take them out of the crib for a set period of time, for example 30 minutes, and then put them back again. 
  • The next time you put baby down to sleep, you should move bed time 15 minutes earlier from the previous night and continue the entire process. 
  • There will come a time when baby will be sleeping when they are supposed to.

Sleep Training Tips for Parents

Sleep training can be a difficult time for parents because they might not understand what the right thing to do is for their baby. 

But don’t worry, there are hundreds and thousands of parents who were in the same situation as you but overcame their struggles and managed to successfully sleep train their babies.

Here are some sleep training tips for parents that have worked for other parents:

  1. Take baby steps (pun intended). Don’t just cut off all sleep associations abruptly. You have to gradually take away one sleep association after the other, like rocking, swaying, or other skin contact. For the sleep associations you remove, add another in place that doesn’t involve you, like a white noise machine or pacifier. 
  2. Wait till 5 to 6 months before you start sleep training, because baby is heavily dependent on you to self soothe. 
  3. Comfort your baby if you feel the need to. You don’t have to be extreme in following a certain sleep training method but the purpose of your consoling should be to let baby know you are there, not to make them stop crying. 
  4. Consult a professional. There are experienced and trained consultants who specialize in sleep training and they will be able to work out a program for you and your baby if you feel like you can’t do it yourself. 
  5. If you don’t want to hire a consultant, refer to books like Babywise, No Cry Sleep Solution, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, etc. A lot of parents swear by these books and have claimed that they were helpful in sleep training their babies. 
  6. Be patient. Every baby is different, and they will learn at their own pace. But the important thing to do is not force them to do anything. 

How Long Does Sleep Training Take?

When it comes to how long sleep training takes, it ultimately depends on your baby. It can take anywhere between 2 weeks to 7 months. 

It might take a while because parents experiment with different methods of sleep training to see what is best suited for them and their baby. 

It is rare to find a method that you like right away and your baby gets adjusted to automatically. 

Getting Baby on a Sleep Schedule

Parents start to think about getting baby on a sleep schedule when they are struggling with getting a good night’s sleep. A sleep schedule can be great for both parents and baby, leading to a happier household.

If you are thinking about getting baby on a sleep schedule, here is everything you need to know.

What is the Best Baby Sleep Schedule?

Sleep is crucial for any healthy individual but it is even more important when it comes to babies. They need sleep to process all the information they take in, and it helps them learn and grow. 

With that being said, sleep can feel non-existent for parents of a newborn who have to be awake to attend to their baby’s needs. It would make sense if you want to get your baby on a sleep schedule so you can manage to get some shut eye as well. 

When it comes to the best sleep schedule for a newborn baby, it is most important to ensure that they are sleeping enough, i.e. getting at least 16 hours, rather than figuring out a schedule.

Newborn babies don’t know the difference between nighttime and daytime, which is why they will be waking up frequently because of hunger. 

You can start to think about getting your baby on a sleep schedule when they turn 3 months old, but even then they will be waking up to eat. 

Here is what a tentative baby sleep schedule can look like for you:

6:30 am  Wake up
8 am – 10: 30 am  Sleep 
12 pm – 3 pm Sleep
5 pm – 6 pm  Sleep
8 pm – 11 pm Sleep, wake to eat
1 am to 3 30 am Sleep, wake to eat
4 am – 6 30  Sleep and wake up

When Can You Get Baby on a Sleep Schedule?

Between the ages of 2 to 3 months, babies start developing a circadian rhythm which means this is when their internal clock will be more predictable.

This is also when they start figuring out the difference between daytime and nighttime. 

You can get baby on a sleep schedule, but it is important to remember that you have to be flexible because baby is still learning.  

Baby will also have to be woken up every 2 to 3 hours to get their feed. 

Tips for How to Get Baby on a Sleep Schedule

Here are some tips that will help you get baby on a sleep schedule:

  1. The most important thing to understand is that babies will take around 8-10 weeks to develop their circadian rhythm which will help them distinguish between night and day. However, you can always assist them with this by keeping it very dark at night and not talking to them. While during the day, you can keep them near a window, and spend more time interacting with them. It is important to point out that this should not be done in the first 2 to 3 weeks after the baby’s birth because they will want to sleep all the time. 
  2. When baby is around 10 weeks old, you can start to get them on a sleep schedule by having a bedtime routine in place. For example, you can put them in bed an hour before they are supposed to fall asleep, nurse them, read them a book, stroke their head till they eventually fall asleep.
  3. In order to get baby on a sleep schedule, it is important to follow a bedtime routine exactly in the same order every night so the baby knows what to expect.
  4. You can try the EASY approach, which stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep and You Time for you. This is more of a routine than a sleep schedule but it will help get baby on a sleep schedule as well, because they will be tired from all the activity throughout the day. The EASY approach is a repetitive routine where you have to feed baby, play with them and then put them down for a nap in the span of 3 hours.

Why is a Sleep Schedule Important?

A sleep schedule is important for babies because it ensures that your baby is well rested and has gotten enough hours of sleep, which is crucial at a young age. 

A sleep schedule will also help baby establish their circadian rhythm, and allow them to know the difference between night and day. 

At What Age Should a Baby Sleep All Night?

At the age of 3 months, baby should be able to sleep all night, for 6 to 8 hours, without waking up.

This may vary and might not be true for all babies. Some babies don’t start sleeping through the night till they are 6 months old.

By 6 months, babies don’t need nighttime feeds and if they are waking up to eat, it is because they find comfort in it not because they’re hungry.

How to Make Baby Sleep at Night?

When it comes to a newborn baby sleeping at night, it will take them a while to figure out the difference between nighttime and daytime. 

But you can assist them by exposing them to natural light during the day, whereas making the room completely dark at night. 

When babies are past the newborn stage, you help them to sleep at night by having a consistent bedtime routine in place, such as dimming the lights, playing some white noise, reading them a book softly. 

You should also make sure that they get enough activity during the day, so they are tired by night. 

When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night?

According to the pediatrics journal, babies begin to sleep through the night around 6 months. 

Newborn babies need at least 16 to 17 hours of sleep, but their sleeping patterns are quite erratic because they wake up every 2 hours to feed.

What Prevents Babies From Sleeping Through the Night?

When babies are able to sleep through the night between 3 to 6 months of age, there might be some things that prevent them from doing so.

It is important to keep in mind that this is different from baby to baby, and it may take some time for your baby to sleep through the night.

Baby is Going Through a Sleep Regression

Babies between the ages of 3 to 4 months go through a sleep regression, and it is when their sleep cycles become similar to adults. When they drift between deep sleep to light sleep, similar to how we do, they might get startled and wake up.

It will take them some time to get used, but it is a phase they will outgrow.

Baby is Dependant on You to Fall Asleep

When baby is dependent on a sleep association that involves you, they may have trouble sleeping through the night because they will want you to soothe them back to sleep.

This is where sleep training comes in, where you teach baby to self soothe and put themselves back to sleep.

Baby’s Feeding Schedule May Need to be Changed

If baby is overfed right before sleeping, it might cause them discomfort. Make sure baby is well-burped before you put them to sleep. 

Also, if you overfeed baby, they might have a dirty diaper at night which would also make them uncomfortable.  

So you might want to adjust the feeding schedule accordingly if you feel like it is the culprit. 

Baby’s Environment is not Sleep Inducive 

There might be something in the room that may prevent baby from going back to sleep in case they wake up in the middle of the night. 

This could be a light, some sounds, and even the temperature of the room that is not helping them with their sleep.

How to Make Baby Sleep Fast?

The best way to make baby sleep fast is to make sure they are tired by bedtime. 

Here are some ways on how you can ensure that.

Best Ways to Make your Baby Tired

These are some ways and tricks that have worked for other parents with helping their baby fall asleep quicker, and might just be the thing for you. Keep in mind, these are all sleeping cues that should signal to your baby that it is time to sleep.

Lullabies and White Noise to Make Baby Tired

Soft music, like lullabies, or white noise is considered to be a positive sleep cue because it does not involve you putting baby to sleep and it is also very comforting for the baby.

When baby is very young, white noise that mimicks the sound of the womb has proven to be very helpful in putting baby to sleep.

Such sounds will also help drown out other sounds in the house.

Massage to Make Baby Tired

Massaging baby with some baby oil will help relax them. 

According to some parents, the space between the eyes at the top of the nose is considered the magic spot to get babies to sleep. 

Gently massaging that area in soft circular motion will help them to sleep quickly.

Feeding to Make Baby Tired

The sucking motion is considered to be very soothing for baby, which is why lots of mothers either nurse or feed their babies to sleep. 

However, it is also important to burp baby after they feed, especially if they had a big meal, so it might be tricky to do this if they fall asleep right after feeding.

If you don’t prefer to feed your baby to make them fall asleep, you can give them a pacifier which will mimic the sucking motion. 

Dimming the lights to Make Baby Tired

Creating a sleep inducing environment is key in helping baby fall asleep faster. An hour before bed time, you should dim the lights completely and turn on the white noise. 

Even if baby isn’t tired by now, they should notice the dimmed lights as a sleeping cue. 

Swaddling to Make Baby Tired

Swaddling mimics how baby was in the womb, and also acts as a sensory soothing technique.

The key with all of these techniques is to remove any type of stimulation and signal to baby that it is bedtime. 

Things To Avoid to Make Baby Tired

Here is what you shouldn’t do in order to help baby fall asleep faster:

Keep Baby Up All Day to Help Them Fall Asleep Faster

This will not do anyone good, especially the baby. It will not only make them overtired by their bedtime but it will also result in less sleep for them, because babies need to take naps during the day.

Holding Baby to Help Them Fall Asleep

This is a very negative sleeping cue because it involves you holding and rocking baby to sleep. While it may be very soothing for the baby, it can quickly make them dependent on you and every time they need to sleep, you will have to hold them.

How to Make Baby Sleep Longer?

As frustrating as it may be, babies are notorious for waking up too early. This not only means baby is getting less sleep, but it might also leave the parents sleep deprived. 

Here are some things you can do to ensure that your baby sleeps longer:

  • Make sure they are getting enough day time sleep. Depending on how old your baby is, babies that are less than 6 months old need an average of 15 hours of sleep in a day. It won’t be possible for them to sleep for 15 hours straight, which is why you have to ensure that they get their dose of day time nap, so they can stay sleeping for longer at night. 
  • Don’t put them to bed too late. Making baby overtired is something that you want to avoid completely, which is why you can’t put them to bed too late. If you notice your baby is getting up earlier than they should, then try pushing their bed time 15 to 30 minutes earlier each night. 
  • Keep them comfy. Just like how we wake up from any type of discomfort, babies are even more susceptible to it. Make sure the temperature of the room is adequate, and switch to overnight diapers so it stays dry. 
  • Block out noise, and keep the room dark. Any type of light in the room should be dimmed, and all noise should be blocked out. White noise machines and audios are very good for this purpose, because they are relaxing and they also drown out the sounds of the environment.

How to Make Baby Sleep in the Crib?

There are many reasons why babies have difficulty falling asleep in the crib. The most common reason is because they have simply gotten used to falling asleep elsewhere.

When it comes to making baby sleep in the crib, there are a couple of thing you can do to assist them. It might take some time to see results but if you stay patient, and stick to the strategies, your baby will be snoozing in their crib soon enough.

  • Put them in the crib when they start getting drowsy but are still awake. It is very important that you don’t let them fall asleep in their usual sleeping place or your arms, because it is highly likely that they will wake up when you’re about to transfer them to the crib. 
  • Put a hot water bottle in the crib before putting them in and let your arm stay there for a bit. This will mimic the warmth that you give (after you remove the hot water bottle), and trick baby into thinking they are in your arms. 
  • Make sure the temperature is okay. The ideal temperature of the room should be between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Baby might show some resistance for sleeping in the crib in the beginning, but if you keep putting them down in the crib, they will soon become used to it. 

At What Age Should Baby Sleep in the Crib?

Assuming your baby is sleeping in the bassinet, or co-sleeping with you, between the ages of 7 weeks to 4 months the baby can be transitioned into the crib. 

However, it is also important that you decide to move baby to crib when you feel they are ready. If you think they are sleeping in the bassinet with no issues, then you can even delay the transition. 

Why Won’t My Baby Sleep in the Crib?

Parents can jump to conclusions when it comes to answering the question “why won’t my baby sleep in the crib?” 

99 percent of the time, it is not the crib itself, it is simply the entire concept that baby is not ready for yet. 

Here are some reasons why your baby won’t sleep in the crib:

  • They are not used to it. Imagine trying to sleep in a completely different environment one day. Even you will face some trouble falling asleep! Your baby will take their sweet time getting used to this new sleeping arrangement, but they will eventually get there. What you can do is, make the space as cozy as you can by reading baby bedtime stories, having white noise on, and dimming the lights. 
  • They haven’t learned how to sleep in it. Up until the transition, baby had been falling asleep in your arms or somewhere that was very comforting for them. And now, they are being placed on a firm mattress without any of that! Some parents have found a way to trick baby into thinking they are sleeping in mom’s arms: you do this by warming the crib mattress by placing a hot water, and then taking it out to put baby down when they are getting drowsy. You also place your arm for a bit till baby falls into deep sleep, and then gently remove your arm.

 

  • They might have reflux issues. Babies who have acid reflux might get uncomfortable if you lay them on their back. If you know this is an issue with your baby, and if they have had gas problems, you should talk to the pediatrician about it. 
  • Crib is too wide. Your baby might be used to sleeping in small spaces, and if the crib is too big, it may feel too big and disorienting for them. You can use a sleep sack for this, so they feel safer. 

How to Make Baby Sleep Without Rocking?

Newborn babies are rocked to sleep, because it is not only a very comforting way to put them to sleep but rocking also helps them sleep faster.

The rocking motion is soothing for a newborn because in the womb they were used to constant movement.

Rocking is also an umbrella term that refers to any type of movement that is used to put baby to sleep, such as patting, walking around with them, bouncing and more. 

However, when babies get older, they also get heavier which would make it harder for the parents to rock them to sleep. This is when parents start to consider alternative methods that can help baby sleep without rocking.

Here are some ways how you can make baby sleep without rocking:

  • Put baby to bed when they are starting to get drowsy, or are tired. You can use the feed, play, sleep routine that will ensure that baby is tired by bedtime. With this, you will have to be cautious that they don’t get over-tired because that will make it harder for them to settle. 
  • If you rock baby entirely to sleep, you can cut back on the rocking by only doing till baby gets drowsy and then gradually eliminate the rocking altogether. 
  • Use baby wearing during the day when they are wide awake, instead of as a sleep association. 

Making baby sleep without rocking is completely possible, and it can happen quicker than you think only if you are determined to eradicate this habit from baby’s sleep routine. 

There are many methods of putting baby to sleep that don’t involve rocking, but can still be comforting for them such as having white noise on, reading them stories to sleep and more. 

If you are consistent with replacing the technique with rocking, you should start seeing results in a week. 

How to Make Baby Sleep on Their Own?

You can make baby sleep on their own by sleep training them. 

Sleep training involves a lot of things like, having a consistent bedtime routine, not having baby rely on you to fall asleep which means no rocking, baby wearing, etc. However, sleep training should be done when baby is about 5 to 6 months of age. 

With a sleep routine in place, baby will learn to sleep on their own in their crib. A sleep routine can look something like this:

  • An hour before baby’s bedtime, you put dim the lights of the room and place them in a sleep sack in their crib. 
  • Turn some white noise on and read them a story in a gentle voice. 
  • Do this consistently, in the same pattern every night. 

How to Make Baby Sleep Without Feeding?

Feeding or nursing baby to sleep can quickly become a sleep association because it’s a natural way of putting them to sleep.

However, as baby gets older, it becomes the only way they’ll sleep which can be quite stressful because you will always have to be available to feed baby to sleep.

This also means that if baby wakes up in the middle of their sleep or naps, they will need to be fed in order to be able to go back to sleep.

Here are some ways on how you can make baby sleep without feeding:

  • Have a routine in place. Babies need routines in their lives, in order to be able to to learn a habit. It makes sense as they will learn with the repetition. So, for bedtime you should have a series of activities in place that you will repeat every night that don’t involve feeding. These activities can include giving them a warm bath, massaging them with some lotion, putting on a fresh diaper, dimming the lights and so on. Make sure to feed them before you start the routine and not during it so they don’t consider it a sleep association. 
  • Make sure baby is not overtired. Babies have to take enough naps during the day depending on how old they are. Keep them up during the day in the hopes that they will fall asleep on their own at night will not work. Having an overtired baby on your hands will resort to you feeding them to calm them down, which is something that we don’t want. 
  • Feed them after they wake up from naps or sleep. This will ensure that they see feeding or nursing as sleep association. Instead they will look at it as a way to start their day. It will also mean they won’t be hungry by their next nap window. 
  • Don’t let them fall asleep on the breast or while they are feeding. As tempting as it may be, don’t let them fall asleep while they are nursing. If you notice them getting sleepy, unlatch them and then put them to bed. If they get upset, you can re-latch them till they finish, but ensuring that they don’t fall asleep. Repeat this as many times you think necessary to teach them that they can’t fall asleep while feeding. 
  • Use a pacifier. Most babies use feeding as a soothing mechanism in order to sleep. You can replace the bottle or breast with a pacifier when bedtime comes.

Is Feeding Baby to Sleep Bad?

When it comes to feeding baby to sleep, it depends on personal experiences. 

Feeding baby to sleep is not bad, per say. The act of feeding and breastmilk is a natural sleep inducer and it helps babies fall asleep fast. 

However, babies can quickly get very dependent on being fed to sleep to the point where they won’t be able to sleep without it. 

It can turn into a negative sleep association, which is why it is considered bad to feed baby to sleep.

How Does Feeding Affect Sleep for Babies?

Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, it will have some sort of an effect on your baby’s sleep.

According to research, formula-fed babies are less likely to wake up at night, and they are also known to sleep longer than breastfed babies.

This is because formula takes longer to digest as compared to breastmilk, which is digested fairly quicker. Breastfed babies wake up frequently because they get hungry. 

However, this is not to say that breastfed babies get less amount of sleep. It is simply that their sleeping habits will be different.

What to Do if Baby Sleeps While Feeding?

Babies falling asleep while feeding is very common because it enables them to feel full and is sleep inducing for them.

If your baby is very young, and if you are sleep training your baby, you will need to keep them awake while they are feeding.

Here are some things you can do if baby sleeps while feeding:

  • Compress the breast. If you are breastfeeding, you might want to compress your breast which will encourage baby to start sucking again and wake them up. 
  • Change sides. This will work whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Once you notice baby getting drowsy you can switch up the sides, and the movement will cause them to wake up. 
  • Stimulate them. It can be very tempting to leave baby as is when they are falling asleep, but you can try some gentle stimulation to keep them awake like stroking their hands and feed, or gently blow on their face. 
  • Burp them. If baby has had a big meal, then they should be burped before being put to sleep because it can result in painful gas. This is also a good way to wake them up. 

How Long Should You Let a Newborn Sleep Between Feedings?

Newborn babies spend the majority of their time asleep. But they also need to get enough food which can sustain all the growing and developing their little bodies have to do. 

While every baby is different, most newborns should be let 2 or 3 hours of sleep between feedings. This is because they need be fed every 2 to 4 hours to get their dose of feed for the day.

As your baby gets older, they won’t be needing as much. 

How Long Should a Newborn Sleep Without Feeding?

A newborn should sleep a maximum of 3 hours without feeding.

Do Formula-fed Babies Sleep Better?

While it is widely claimed that formula fed babies sleep better, there is no evidence to back this up. 

It might be logical to assume that formula fed babies don’t get hungry frequently because their systems take longer to digest it, meaning they don’t wake up as often as well.

However, it is also very important to keep in mind that hunger is not the sole reason why babies wake up at night, or in the middle of a nap.

When Should I Stop Night Feedings?

Night feedings can become a huge part of baby’s routine, which is why it can be difficult to decide when to stop. 

But when baby gets older, they won’t need to be woken up for night feedings, which means you will also get to sleep in! 

Between the ages of 4 to 6 months is when babies don’t need their night feeds anymore. This is the age when babies weigh about 12 to 13 pounds and their tummies can hold in food for longer. 

However, it is important to keep in mind that all babies develop differently and at their own pace. Before you stop night feedings, you should consult the pediatrician.

Where Should My Baby Sleep?

According to the AAP, baby should sleep:

  • In a bassinet, crib, or a sleep sack that can be in the same room as the mother. 
  • The mattress should be firm and have a tight fitted sheet. 
  • Without the presence of soft and loose objects such as stuffed animals, and blankets.

Bassinet or Crib for Sleeping?

When it comes to choosing a bassinet or crib for your baby to sleep in, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not have an explicit distinction between either. 

They only have recommendations and precautions for whatever you choose for baby, which include:

  • No loose objects in the sleeping area.
  • Baby should always be placed on their back, not facedown or on their side.
  • No bedsharing with mom.
  • Room share till the age of 6 months. 

The Family Bed? Bed-Sharing?

According to the AAP, and US Consumer Product Safety Commission, parents should not bed-share with an infant. 

This is because there are certain risks that are associated with bed-sharing, such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

Risk factors for SIDS such as overheating, rebreathing, head covering are more likely to happen with bed-sharing. 

How Much Sleep Does Your Baby Need?

Sleep is a huge part of a baby’s life. They need an adequate amount of sleep for healthy development and growth. 

Here are the recommended hours of sleep by age, according to the National Sleep Foundation:

Age Range Recommended Hours of Sleep in a day
Newborn 0-3 months 14-17 hours
Infant 4-11 months 12-15 hours
Toddler 1-2 years 11-14 hours
Preschool 3-5 years 9-11 hours

Should I Let My Newborn Sleep All Day?

It is normal for newborns to sleep all day, provided that they are also being fed the adequate amount. 

Newborns are going through growth spurts which is why they sleep a lot during the day. 

However, you can make day time as interactive and interesting for them as possible (whenever they are awake) while doing the complete opposite for nighttime. 

This will help establish their circadian rhythm and allow them to differentiate between night and day.

But it is very important to understand that you should not keep them awake during the day, because that will result in overtiredness. Eventually their sleep schedule will sort out as they grow older. 

What Position Should I Put My Baby to Sleep?

A baby should always be placed on their backs to sleep. This is the safest position for a baby to sleep in and it is known to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Any other positions such as placing them on their side or their stomach can be dangerous, and increases the risk of suffocation or overheating.

Should you Wake a Sleeping Newborn?

Should you wake a sleeping newborn depends on a couple of things, which includes their weight, and how many weeks it has been after birth.

In the first 2 to 3 weeks, baby should be woken up after every 3 hours for feed. Newborns need up to 12 feedings in a given day till they establish a healthy weight gain pattern.

Why Do Babies Sleep So Much?

A baby’s sleep pattern can be quite confusing to understand, and you might find yourself questioning if your baby’s sleeping habits are normal. 

Here are some reasons why babies sleep so much:

  • This is what they are used to doing. Your baby spent 9 months in the womb in a very cozy environment where they spent most of their time sleeping. They don’t know the concept of day and night, which is why they will be sleeping throughout the day till they get adjusted to this new environment. 
  • They are doing a lot of growing. Your baby is going through continuous growth spurts. And their bodies are doing the development when they’re asleep. 
  • Sleep induces sleep. Babies can sleep for very long stretches of time and the more they sleep, the sleepier they will be. 
  • They get full quickly. Newborns have very tiny stomachs which get full quickly. This feeling of fullness also enhances their sleepiness, which explains why they fall asleep right after feeding. 

Is it Normal For Babies to Take Naps?

It is completely normal for babies to take naps. In fact, they need to take naps so that they can get their daily amount of sleep. 

Up until 2 to 3 months of age, your baby will not have their circadian rhythm established which means they won’t have a clue about the concepts of night and day. 

To explain it simply, they are eating, sleeping, and peeing/pooping on a 24/7 revolving cycle. Moreover, their bodies are always changing and going through growth spurts so they need a lot of sleep for that too. 

This is why babies up until the age of 2 to 3 months should not be awake for longer than 2 hours. 

Reasons Why your Baby Won’t Sleep and How to Cope

Figuring out a baby’s sleep schedule, and getting used to it can be one of the biggest challenges faced in the beginning. 

It can quickly get frustrating for parents if baby is not sleeping, because it simply means you can’t get your sleep as well. 

But it is important to keep in mind that this phase of baby’s life is temporary, and a little help from you will get them snoozing soon enough. 

Before you can help your baby, you need to understand the reasons why baby won’t sleep and how you can cope accordingly:

1. Baby is Overtired

An overtired baby will be very difficult to put to sleep. Even if they do end up falling asleep, they won’t stay sleeping for long and will wake up. 

Most parents are under the impression that making a baby tired will result them sleeping better at night, but that is simply not the case. 

In order to prevent making baby overtired, you will want to make sure they fall asleep before they reach that point. This will have to be done by getting baby on a sleep schedule.

Getting baby on a schedule will take some time, especially in the first couple of months since they don’t have a concept of night and day. 

But once you make sure that you are following a proper routine every night for bedtime, baby will become a happy sleeper.

2. Baby is Dependent on a Negative Sleep Association 

A negative sleep association is when baby needs you to fall asleep. This can be anything like being rocked, walked, or bounced to sleep. 

Being nursed to sleep does not count when baby is a newborn because they need to be fed frequently. 

Once baby is dependent on you to fall asleep, they will have difficulty sleeping. And if they wake up in the middle of their sleep, they will require you to put them back to sleep.

This is difficult to sustain, and you can focus on removing the negative sleep association and replacing it with something else that is equally soothing for them. 

 

3. Baby is Overstimulated

When baby is overstimulated by their surrounding environment, they will have trouble sleeping. It causes them to stay alert, and they are unable to calm down and drift off to sleep.

Overstimulation can be caused by things like noise in the environment, bright lights, television screens or mobile screens, people walking in the room and other things.

It can be prevented by removing any kind of stimulus from the environment, and completely dimming the lights and cancelling out the noise. 

This will also help them get into a healthy sleep routine. You can have a more interactive environment for baby during the day time, and a completely different one at night. 

4. Baby Isn’t Napping Enough 

Babies need to nap enough during the day so they can sleep better at night. This may seem counterintuitive, but having the right amount of sleep of sleep during the day will prevent them from getting overtired. 

For babies less than 3 months old, you can follow the 90 minute sleep program. According to the sleep researcher with a Ph.D., Dr. Polly Moore, baby should not be up for more than 90 minutes.

Make a note of the time when baby is awake, and during the 90 minute period have baby engaged in different activities, including feeding. 

At the end of the 90 minutes, put baby down for a nap. Once baby is used to this napping schedule, they will be sleeping noticeably better at night. 

5. Baby is Going Through a Sleep Regression

A sleep regression will hit around the time baby turns 4 months old. A sleep regression occurs when baby is going through a major developmental milestone, which affects their sleeping habits and their body is going through changes. 

The changes they go through can make them restless and unsettled, and it will impact their sleeping significantly.

You can solve this problem by making sure you stick to the bedtime routine you have for baby. The sleep regression is temporary, and will soon pass. 

6. Baby Has a Physical Discomfort

There might be some type of physical discomfort that is keeping your baby up such as teething pains and gas problems. 

If your baby has gas issues, you should make sure that they are burped properly after each feed. And if the gas problem persists, you should get baby checked by their doctor. 

How Can I Trick My Baby to Sleep?

Getting baby to sleep can be a very tricky thing. Some babies are very easy to put to sleep, while others will take their sweet time. 

Lots of parents struggle with this problem, which leads to them trying a bunch of different tricks that sometimes stick. 

Here are some of those tricks that parents have found quite helpful with their babies that help put them to sleep:

  • Skin-to-skin after diaper change. Many parents have seen that after doing their nightly routine of changing and massaging a baby, they put baby on their chest and that seems to do the trick. Skin-to-skin is especially important for newborn babies, so this is something you should try in the first couple of weeks to help baby sleep. 
  • Having the vacuum cleaner on. This may sound like a strange one, but the sound of the vacuum cleaner is similar to the sounds that baby was used to in the womb which is why it can soothe them to sleep. 
  • Having white noise on. White noise like sounds of waves crashing, sounds heard in the womb, etc., can be a great way to soothe baby to sleep. You can get a white noise machine for the nursery, or have an app on your phone to play the white noise recordings. 
  • Swaddle them to sleep. Wrapping a baby up in a snug swaddle replicates the feeling of them in the womb which allows them to feel better. However, you have to make sure that the swaddle is wrapped in a way that it doesn’t open.

Dealing With Baby Sleep Problems

Sleep problems are one of the most common problems that parents deal with when it comes to newborns and infants. 

It is normal to deal with baby sleep problems because it is very different from adult sleep. The key thing to remember is to figure out what is causing that sleep problem. 

Here are some potential sleep problems that could be faced by your baby, and some solutions on how you can deal with them:

 

1. They Are Not Sleepy By Bedtime

Infants take a while to figure out the difference between nighttime and daytime because their circadian rhythms don’t develop till 12 to 13 weeks of age

This explains why baby might not get sleepy by bedtime because they have zero concept of a “bedtime”. 

While this is something that baby will learn to adjust to as they get older, you can also speed things up by helping them.

Here are some things you can try to help baby sleep by bedtime:

  • Wake baby up at the same time every morning, and expose them to sunlight during the day. But at night, and at nap times, dim out all the lights and completely block out any type of noise.
  • During the day, engage baby in different activities. Sure, they’re very small right now and won’t do much but you can talk to them and have them around during your everyday chores. 
  • Don’t expose baby to screens and artificial lights before bedtime. This will overstimulate them and prevent them to sleep by bedtime. 

2. They Are Hungry 

Newborns and infants get hungry super quickly because their stomachs are so tiny. This is why they need to be fed on a frequent basis, so they can sustain all the growing that will be done. 

In order to tackle this problem, you have to establish a proper feeding schedule. Newborns have to be fed every 2 to 3 hours, so you can make sure they get fed before bedtime and then you will need to “dream feed”.

Dream feeding is when you gently wake baby up to feed them before you go to sleep yourself. You can do this 2 to 3 hours later after you have put them down to sleep. 

3. They Are too Excited to Sleep

As strange as this might sound, babies are very curious beings because everything is new to them. All this overload of new information might make it difficult for their brains to turn off. 

In order to tackle this problem, parents have to make the hour prior to bedtime as boring as they possibly can. 

Turn off any type of light in the room, and crank up the white noise an hour before they are supposed to sleep. Keep interaction at a minimum, and baby will eventually get drowsy and nod off.

4. They Don’t Have a Routine in Place

Once a regular bedtime is established, it will become easier for baby to fall asleep and they will be sleeping for longer as well. 

Having a routine in place will also assist baby in developing their circadian rhythm faster. 

You can deal with this problem by having baby stick to a certain routine. This will also help baby have regular and consistent nap times. 

You can follow the 90 minute routine during the day, where baby is only kept awake for a period of 90 minutes. And before baby is put to sleep for a nap, they are engaged in play activities and also fed. 

When the time comes for bed, you can have a proper bedtime routine which can start by giving baby a bath and a massage, dimming the lights of the room and reading them to sleep or having white noise recordings on. 

5. They’re Bedtime Needs To Be Adjusted

Baby might be facing sleep problems because their bedtime might be early or late. 

If bedtime is too late, then they are overtired by the time it is time for them to sleep. Signs of being overtired will be fussiness, crying and restlessness which will stop them from sleeping.

If your baby is showing signs of overtiredness, then you will need to put them to bed before their usual bedtime.

If baby is wide awake and alert by bed time, then it is too early for them to sleep. You can have a routine in place that involves giving them a warm bath and a massage, a change of clothes etc that will help them wind down.

Can Baby Have a Sleep Disorder?

It is possible for babies to have sleep disorders, according to Stanford Healthcare. If you feel like your infant has a type of sleeping disorder, you should get them checked by the pediatrican. 

There are sleep clinics that specialize in treating sleeping disorders in infants and children using techniques like scheduled awakenings, reinforcement methods and other treatments.

The pediatrician might also recommend some medications for the sleep disorder.

What is Sleep Regression in Babies?

Sleep regression in babies is a phenomena that alters a baby’s sleep patterns.This causes them to wake up in the middle of a sleep, and as a result they face difficulty in going back to sleep as well. 

Your baby is going through constant developments and a sleep regression happens when baby is going through a major developmental milestone. The first one usually occurs at the age of 4 months

It can be a rocky time in the house, as the sleep regression also results in a lack of sleep for everyone around baby. 

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel! A sleep regression is temporary and is likely to go away in a couple of weeks. 

Signs of Sleep Regression in Babies – How Do I Know if My Baby is Going Through a Sleep Regression?

While a sleep regression is not something that is medically diagnosed, you can tell that your baby is going through one if they are showing these signs:

  • Not being able to sleep through the night suddenly,
  • Being very fussy,
  • Waking up multiple times in a day,
  • Changing appetites,
  • Napping less than usual.

Causes of Sleep Regression in Babies

A sleep regression in your baby could be a cause of many reasons. Here are some of the most common ones:

Physical and Mental Development

Your baby is going through so many physical and mental developments. Anything new they do takes a lot of physical and mental effort.

This includes the smallest things such as, learning to roll, being able to sit up, etc., all of which are huge developmental milestones for baby. 

According to research, when your baby learns a certain skill, or they are in the process of learning, their sleep is impacted right around the same time which causes the sleep regression. 

Also, the more things baby learns to do, the more independent they are getting which also creates a sense of insecurity in them causing them to wake up at night for comfort.

Travelling

If your family has been travelling recently, that could be a big reason for the sleep regression. 

Baby is used to a certain schedule and environment when they sleep, and any disturbances in the routine could result in a difficulty of falling asleep.

Changes in Sleeping Habits

Just like baby’s body is changing, so are their sleeping habits. As they grow older, they won’t need to sleep as much so you might want to consider cutting back on some naps.

Baby’s sleeping habits will be changing quite a bit over the span of 5 years and you will need to be accommodating accordingly.

Transitioning to a Different Bed

Whether you transition baby to a crib from a bassinet or you transition toddler to a bigger bed from a crib, your child may face a sleep regression. 

A new bed is something they are not used to, and naturally it will take a while before they can get used to it. 

Physical Pain

Baby might be going through some physical pain such as teething, or a growth spurt which is causing them discomfort. 

When do Sleep Regressions Happen?

All babies are different and can go through a regression at any period of their age. 

However, the most common ones happen at:

  • 4 months,
  • 6 months,
  • 8 months, 
  • 10 months.
  • 11 months,
  • 15 months.

The 4 month sleep regression is the one that most babies are likely to go through. 

Sleep regressions can occur up to 2 years of age because baby will be going through a plethora of milestones till that age that involve a lot of physical and cognitive development.

Can You Prevent a Sleep Regression?

A sleep regression is not something that can be prevented because it is directly related to your baby’s development. 

You can make adjustments to accommodate baby during the sleep regression and make things easier, but you won’t be able to prevent it.

Tips For Managing Sleep Regressions in Your Baby

A sleep regression can be a tricky thing to do deal with, but it not impossible to manage. All you need is a little patience. Here are some tips for managing sleep regressions in your baby:

  • Break off the negative sleep associations. This should be done gradually and not immediately. For instance, if you are baby has a habit of being nursed to sleep, you can push the nursing session back by 15 minutes each night. 
  • Create a sleep inducing environment. This is one of the most important things you can do. Make sure you black out the room when it is time for bed, which will work not only a signal for baby to sleep but it will also block out distractions that could potentially keep them awake.
  • Make sure to stick to the existing routine. The sleep regression will pass, slowly but surely. During the regression it is important that you try to stick to the bedtime routine as much as you can. And if you don’t have a bedtime routine, then it may be a good time to start one!
  • Let baby cry on their own for short periods of time. This maybe a difficult one to do, but it is okay to let baby cry on their own for short intervals, so they can learn how to self soothe. 
  • Consult a sleep consultant. Sleep consultants are trained professionals who can give valuable advice on how you can deal with baby’s sleep regression. If the regression is something that has caused a lot of disturbance in your routine, then it may be worthwhile to schedule a phone consultation.

How Long Does a Baby Sleep Regression Last?

Sleep regression in babies can last for a period of 2 to 4 weeks.

Do Babies Go Back to Normal After the Sleep Regression?

How babies are after a sleep regression depends on baby to baby. The 4 month sleep regression is the one where baby goes through a major developmental change, and it affects their sleeping habits completely.

However, this isn’t to say that baby won’t go back to being a good sleeper if they were before the regression hit. It simply means that their sleeping patterns will need some adjusting and accommodating. 

You will have to try different techniques and methods till you find something that works for your baby’s new sleeping habits.

Does Lack of Sleep Affect Baby’s Development?

Babies go through all sorts of sleep problems, some of which can result in lack of sleep. 

However, there aren’t enough studies done to show that babies face severe sleep problems that could be threatening to their development. 

Babies have the ability to regulate their own sleep needs, but from time to time, they may need some assistance from their parents.

However, it is important that babies get adequate sleep depending on how old they are so can have healthy physical and cognitive developments.

Babies do most of their growing when they are asleep which is why it is important for them to get their regular dose of sleep.

You will be able to tell if baby isn’t getting enough sleep if they are showing these signs:

  • They are cranky and fussy majority of the time. Babies can become moody if they are not sleeping enough, just like us. 
  • They are not eating as much. 
  • They face difficulty in waking up.

 

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