Encouraging good sleep habits

For the first few months, middle-of-the-night feedings are sure to disrupt sleep for parents and babies alike — but it's never too soon to help your baby become a good sleeper. Consider these tips:

  • Follow a consistent, calming bedtime routine. Overstimulation in the evening can make it difficult for your baby to settle to sleep. Try bathing, cuddling, singing, playing quiet music or reading, with a clearly defined end point when you leave the room. Begin these activities before your baby is overtired in a quiet, softly lit room.
  • Put your baby to bed drowsy, but awake. This will help your baby associate bed with the process of falling asleep. Remember to place your baby to sleep on his or her back, and clear the crib or bassinet of blankets and other soft items.
  • Give your baby time to settle down. Your baby might fuss or cry before finding a comfortable position and falling asleep. If the crying doesn't stop, check on your baby, offer comforting words and leave the room. Your reassuring presence might be all your baby needs to fall asleep.
  • Consider a pacifier. If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier might do the trick. In fact, research suggests that using a pacifier during sleep helps reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Keep nighttime care low-key. When your baby needs care or feeding during the night, use dim lights, a soft voice and calm movements. This will tell your baby that it's time to sleep — not play.
  • Respect your baby's preferences. If your baby is a night owl or an early bird, you might want to adjust routines and schedules based on these natural patterns.

Keeping it in perspective

Remember, getting your baby to sleep through the night isn't a measure of your parenting skills. Take time to understand your baby's habits and ways of communicating so that you can help him or her become a better sleeper. If you have concerns, talk to your baby's doctor.

Oct. 10, 2017 See more In-depth