Baby Won’t Sleep? 5 Tips to Get Baby to Sleep

When a baby won’t sleep, it can be really tough. Getting a baby to sleep through the night isn’t always easy. When people say, “It just happened!” well that’s great for them but it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your baby. I go over what is considered normal for sleeping through in this seminar recording about baby sleeping through the night.

All babies are different.

It’s ok for your baby to take longer to sleep through.

It’s ok for your baby to wake more frequently than your best friend’s baby.

It’s ok for your baby to require more help to learn how to self-settle.

But there are a few things that I think are the most important for when your baby won’t sleep.

Tip 1: establish a routine

The most important thing I can recommend is to establish a routine with your baby. It’s never too early to establish a night time routine which involves a story, a bath and a feed. You might want to incorporate your own rituals to share with your baby – maybe it’s a massage. Maybe it’s your favourite childhood book (even if baby doesn’t understand it yet). It’s all part of the predictable rhythm to winding down.

Tip 2: Set a bed time

Related to routine is timing. It’s important to have a set bed-time. I know these days, we all live a fairly unstructured life. We value spontanaiety but when it comes to babies, structure and predictability can really make a difference. When a baby feels like they know what is coming next, they feel more in control and this feeling helps them to relax.  You don’t have to make bedtime really rigid (7.08pm is not that different from 6.49pm) but roughly between 6 and 7 you should start a wind down process and stick to it. I have heard some mothers settling their baby as late as 11pm and then finding that the baby does not sleep well and is unsettled during the day. The best hours for baby to sleep are the early hours of the night as this is when they have their deepest and most refreshing sleep. Waiting until later robs them of the best part of their sleep. It is much better to stick with a regular 7ish sleep time.

Tip 3: Listen to your baby

Listen to your baby when they are settling. I do not advocate controlled crying but I do think you need to listen to your baby carefully to see if they are crying or just making a few noises which are their winding down noises. When you have a new baby, it feels awful to leave them and you don’t want them to be distressed but many (if not all babies) do make a few noises as they’re going to sleep on their own. Prior to 12 weeks, it’s unlikely they can settle on their own; they need your help but do try to leave the room first and give them a moment to try. Once they get past 12 weeks, and self-settling starts to become a possibility, if you rush in, they will never get the chance to learn this skill. Listen to your baby and trust your intuition. If you feel like they are getting distressed, don’t leave them, but if you feel like they are winding down, give them a moment.

Tip 4: Check the baby’s room

Babies’ rooms can be incredibly distracting. Mobiles over the bed, the flashing light of the modem on the desk, cracks through the blinds. All these things can be fascinating to a baby. Making the area around the cot dark and boring can really help.

Tip 5: Trust your instincts

You are ok and your baby’s ok. Unless you feel something is wrong. If you do, don’t wait outside the nursery door. It’s fine to check your baby if you’re worried. It’s fine to comfort your baby if they’re distressed. I really believe that parents know what’s best for their baby.

It’s totally normal to be stressed if your baby won’t sleep but I hope these tips will help you find some ways through and start you on the path to being your own baby whisperer.

All the best

Jo

ps – If you got something out of this post, I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it on Facebook or Twitter so that others can get help.

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Baby Snore by Janet McKnight
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Showing 4 comments
  • Carolin
    Reply

    Good tips for creating a good “sleeping space” and association. Unfortunately in my case, none of the above worked! haha but we followed our intuition, as you say, and found our own groove. No baby is the same, you just have to find what works for your family.

    • Jo
      Reply

      Thanks for your comment Carolin. It can be difficult, can’t it, even when you do everything you are supposed to! But I do agree that going with your intuition is the best tip of them all.

  • Carolyn
    Reply

    Hi Jo, my 7month seems to want to feed and go to bed at around 6pm but after his feed, he has a burst of energy and rolls around and giggles and plays until around 8.30pm. Do you have any tips to encourage going to bed after the 6 o’clock feed?

  • Louise
    Reply

    I’m a single mum to a teenage son and a baby. My teenage son has after school commitments that I have to collect him from some evenings. We don’t get home until 8.30pm on these evenings. Should I only settle baby at this time on those evenings or should I make 8.30-9.15 our bath, story and bedtime every evening?

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