Transitioning back home from our stint in the hospital last week has proven interesting, to say the least. We're learning how to get baby to sleep ALL over again.
It's almost like he's afraid the nurses are going to show up and shove tubes down his nose again if he nods off. And we're back to feeding every two hours around the clock. Dude clearly has some catching up to do!
The good news is that I've already seen two kids through this stage, so I understand that it gets easier with time. My preschooler and toddler both sleep like little angels. I know ALL the tricks for how to get baby to sleep. With some well-though-out habits, I'm sure we'll be on our way to Dreamtown in no time.
How to Get Baby to Sleep: Ideas that Actually Work
You've probably rocked and shushed until your lips were chapped. Maybe you blearily Googled “how to get baby to sleep” at 3am and wound up here. Whatever your deal, my 4+ consecutive years of baby experience can help. Here are the unconventional tips that other people won't tell you (perhaps out of fear of being judged).
Get some space. None of my children have slept well in the same room as me. It's like they can smell me nearby and they just want to be glued to my side playing all night long. I'm a spazzy sleeper, so that doesn't work for anyone. Going from bedside bassinet to nursery crib, however, can be a challenge – especially if your rooms are far apart. We've had good luck using a play yard to gradually transition baby into his own space between three and six months old. Set it up as far away from your bedside as you feel comfortable, then gradually increase the distance over a series of nights. We're still working with Fisher-Price, and we've found that their UltraLite Day & Night Play Yard is the perfect solution. It's half the weight as other play yards, so we can easily move it around the house or take it traveling. Right now it's set up in our breakfast nook, which is in a central spot between our bedroom and living room within hearing-range of anywhere I may go.
Humidifier. Nobody sleeps well if they're stuffy. A warm-air humidifier can provide a little relief, especially during cold season.
Comfort item. I'm not saying you should put a stuffed animal in their crib (seriously, don't do that. They could suffocate on it). But you can introduce them to a lovey/blanky/stuffy by putting it NEAR their crib. It can offer familiarity as they transition to their own room and serve to comfort them through the toddler years.
Binky. Infants have a natural reflex to suckle for comfort. Once nursing is well-established and nipple confusion isn't a concern, introducing a binky can help you stop being a human pacifier.
Incline your baby. Sleeping at a slight angle can help soothe acid reflux or colic and help ease digestion as everything flows downward in their little bellies. That's another one of my favorite things about the UltraLite Day & Night Play Yard from Fisher-Price – it has a removable recliner for the infant phase, making it fit in quite nicely with my ideas on how to get baby to sleep. Once the kids starts rolling over, you simply remove the infant attachment and are left with a sturdy play yard with a solid bottom.
Swaddle. Babies are used to having their arms and legs pressed up against them in your belly. If you have a little Houdini, try Baby Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit.
Lavender oil. It's extremely soothing. I rub a couple drops on the bottom of his feet and put a few drops in the humidifier.
Stealth changes. For nighttime changes, keep the lights off and sound low. If they aren't feeding at night, avoid removing them from their bassinet or crib if AT ALL possible. The Fisher-Price UltraLite Day & Night Play Yard comes with a handy changing pad and pocket for storage, so I can slip it right under him and change him in a flash!
Formula feed. Some breastfeeding parents choose to give their child formula as the last meal before bedtime. Formula is slower to digest than breastmilk and will keep baby full longer.
Routines. Many people like a warm bath. Some read a book. Others sing a lullaby. My husband and I often put on an episode of The Bachelor. Classy? Yes. Whatever your baby is used to at night, stick to it consistently. Not to compare your precious baby to a huffing-and-drooling canine, but Pavlov was onto something. We're all creatures of habit.
I’ve been continuing my work with Fisher-Price and having a lot of discussions about parenting with fellow moms and dads on topics ranging from how to get baby to sleep to maintaining your own social life with busy babies in tow. You can get tips from all of us experienced parents with unique insights over at the FP Insiders site. Message the team on social media by including #FPinsiders in any posts – now's your chance to ask questions about childhood development, toys, parenting tips and more!