It's no secret that working around your newborn's erratic schedule can be exhausting--especially if it seems like a full-night of sleep is a thing of the past. What's a new parent to do? For starters, ensuring your child adopts a sleep schedule early on will lead to a more peaceful night for everyone in the household. We consulted Little Remedies® pediatrician Sue Hubbard, MD, who offered up her expert tips for getting your baby to sleep through the night.
The reality for new parents is that the whole process takes time--six to eight weeks, to be exact. She says by that time your baby should sleep for longer periods through the night. "A new baby has to develop a circadian rhythm, which requires practice and time," she says. "I encourage parents to wake their baby every two to three hours during the day and to have a consistent bedtime routine that includes a bath, stories, and songs, and this is something you can start this from early age."
Dr. Hubbard also stresses that self-soothing is a crucial lesson your child needs to learn early on. "It is important to start good habits and to begin to teach your baby to self-soothe. If they do not settle and begin to cry, pick them up, soothe and calm them again and put them back in their crib. With time, you will notice that your baby will fall asleep on their own," she adds.
While most parents can't bear to hear the sound of their child in distress, once your child is over four months, Dr. Hubbard recommends letting them "cry it out," especially if they're resistant to putting themselves to sleep. "If they wake up at night, check on your baby and calm them; however, quickly put them back in their crib and let them cry for 10 to 15 minutes before repeating the process," she adds.
If after a few nights your baby still isn't getting the hang of it, don't stress: "Some babies are quick learners and others take much longer to develop a healthy sleep cycle," she reassures. "Be consistent with bedtimes and routines; soon enough they will be sleeping through the night!"
We get it, though: The thought of developing a nighttime schedule may still seem overwhelming, but with Dr. Hubbard's tips you can easily enforce good sleeping habits. She recommends creating a safe haven, dressing for success, swaddling, setting a schedule, and making some (white) noise. But priority no. one is always your child's safety. "Nursery safety is critical and your baby’s crib must be a safe place," Dr. Hubbard stresses. Below, she describes each step in detail, offering up an simple guide so all new parents can rest easy.
Dr. Hubbard's Tips:
- In terms of apparel, choose flame-retardant sleepwear or tightly-fitting PJs. Consider sleepwear with snaps at the crotch—this will make your life easier when you have to do nighttime diaper changes.
- Swaddle your little one; it helps them re-experience the warmth, comfort, and security they felt when they were in the womb.
- Set schedules and routines, as they are comfortable and familiar. The best baby nighttime routine is the simplest: bath, book, bed.
- In addition, use white noise as it can create a soothing environment for your baby to drift off to sleep.
For more tips on keeping your baby happy and healthy, download the brand new Little Remedies® book, A Little More Wisdom.