Family Development - A Caregiver's Guide

Better Sleep for You and Your Baby

As with every new skill your baby learns, falling asleep in a crib may take practice. Your baby may cry when first put in the crib. This is normal and should be expected. There are a lot of things you can do to help your baby settle down for bed and feel more comfortable sleeping in a crib. Every baby is unique, so you may need to try a few times before you figure out exactly what your baby likes best.

10 tips to help your baby sleep at night

  1. Make sure your baby has active playtime, such as “tummy time,” during the day.
  2. Respond to your baby’s needs quickly during the day to reduce your baby’s stress.
  3. Allow for skin-to-skin contact during the day.
  4. Keep a consistent schedule for meals, naps and bedtime.
  5. Use a bedtime routine of three or four relaxing activities to help your baby wind down (giving your baby a bath, gently massaging muscles, and then spending a short period of quiet time together). Research has shown that babies who have a bedtime routine fall asleep 30% faster, wake up 50% less often, and sleep for longer stretches of time.
  6. Talk or sing softly to your baby before bed. Just the sound of your voice is very soothing to your baby.
  7. Put your baby in the crib when he or she begins to look tired, but is still awake. Putting babies to bed while they are tired, but still awake, helps them learn to fall asleep on their own.
  8. If your baby seems restless at bedtime, put your baby to bed 30 minutes earlier. When babies become overtired, they sometimes become energetic and fight off sleep.
  9. Play soft music, turn on a fan or put a ticking clock near your baby’s crib. Listening to repetitive sounds lulls babies off to sleep. Continuing normal household activities while babies sleep helps them learn to sleep without silence.
  10. Place a warm towel down on your baby’s sheet and remove it just before you place your baby down.

If you have tried all of these suggestions and your baby is still not sleeping well, talk to your baby’s nurse or doctor.  There may be a medical reason for your baby’s restless nights. IMPORTANT INFORMATION!

Sleeping with your baby is dangerous.

Even if your baby is breastfed and you don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs or other medications, sleeping with your baby still increases your baby’s risk of suffocation or strangulation while sleeping. The only way to protect your baby from higher risk is to have your baby sleep alone in a crib. For more information on safe infant sleep, visit www.ounce.org/safe_sleep.html