How to Put Your Baby on a Sleep Schedule

If you haven’t had a good night’s sleep since your baby was born, you’re not alone. Sleepless nights are a rite of passage for most new parents. But don’t despair. You can help your baby sleep all night. Honestly!

Developing a rhythm
Newborns sleep 16 or more hours a day, but often in stretches of just one to two hours at a time. Although the pattern may be erratic at first, a more consistent sleep schedule will emerge as your baby’s nervous system matures and he or she goes longer between feedings.

By age 3 months, many babies sleep up to five hours during the night. By age 6 months, nighttime stretches of nine to 12 hours are possible.

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. Here’s how:

Encourage activity during the day. When your baby is awake, engage him or her by talking, singing and playing. Surround your baby with light and normal household noises. Such stimulation during the day can help promote better sleep at night.

Monitor your baby’s naps. Regular naps are important — but sleeping for large chunks of time during the day may leave your baby wide awake at bedtime.

Follow a consistent bedtime routine. Try relaxing favorites such as bathing, cuddling, singing or reading. Soon your baby will associate these activities with sleep. If you play bedtime music, choose the same tunes each time you put your baby in the crib.

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 may fuss or cry before finding a comfortable position and falling asleep. If the crying doesn’t stop, speak to your baby calmly and stroke his or her back. Your reassuring presence may 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, using a pacifier during sleep may reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But there are pitfalls, too. If your baby uses a pacifier to sleep, you may face frequent middle-of-the-night crying spells when the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth.

Article Courtesy of The Mayo Clinic