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Put that baby to sleep

Put that baby to sleep

Did you hear about the parent that named their baby Caffeine? Apparently she was keeping them up all night.

Getting your baby to sleep is one of the most frustrating parts of having a newborn. But rest assured — pun intended — it will end eventually. Doing the right things now will help create a good sleeper for the future.

Getting the newborns back to sleep

First of all, it is unrealistic to expect a baby who is younger than four months to sleep through the night. Some babies will, but most will need to wake and feed every couple hours.

For babies who are older than four months, it is important to establish a pattern, even if your baby will not follow it. The rule should be that when the “sun is down” and she wakes to feed, you should quietly change her, feed her, then put her right back down to sleep. Try not to turn on the lights, sing or make eye contact. The idea is to not stimulate her or re-enforce the waking behavior during the night.

The baby is fed. Now what?

Once the feeding and burping are finished, put her down to sleep flat on her back in her own crib. It is ok to put her down if she is still awake. This teaches her that she needs to learn how to fall asleep on her own.

In the beginning most babies will cry for a while after being put down. Once your baby is a month old or so, try letting him cry for 30 minutes to 1 hour before you go back in to repeat the change-feed-sleep cycle. Now most parents — including myself — are unable to do this initially. But with time, your child will sleep for longer periods of time.

Sleep tips for infants

Most babies, by the time they are six months old do not need to be fed during the night. If your baby does wake in the middle of the night, try letting him cry for 10 minutes after waking then, just as before, quietly change and put right down. Repeat as needed in 30 minute to 1-hour intervals.

By nine months most babies have learned to manipulate their environment — you. This is the age that many babies will frequently wake, talk or cry out just to have you come in the room and comfort them. Even babies that slept just fine up to this point will push your limits a bit.

Don’t give in and especially do not bring them into your bed to sleep. Let me repeat that: Do not bring them into your bed to sleep. That is what she wants and it will be very difficult to get back to his own bed.

After nine months of age many parents will blame teething on night waking. That may be the case. If you think he’s uncomfortable offer some pain medicine. But the most likely cause is that he has figured out how to get your attention, and since nine-month-olds have a stronger will than most parents, he will keep pushing until he gets into your bed.

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  1. Linda Williger April 8, 2013 at 11:24 am · Reply

    Great advice–could have used this 19 years ago with my youngest! Now he sleeps till noon whenever he can–and to think I never thought he'd ever sleep through the night! New parents take heed to these great suggestions.

  2. Kelly Jo Golson

    Great information for new parents!

  3. Very helpful advice for the different sleep stages the first year!

  4. This is all fine – for some babies and some parents. Not all. My firstborn daughter wanted to be up all night – unless she was curled up, face down, on my chest. So, instead of fighting with her I took the reigns and finally followed *my own instincts*! I set up the papazzan chair with three king-sized pillows at around 10 at night, just after her last feeding, made sure she had a fresh diaper, sang her a song, turned out the lights and we were both out in our little pillow cocoon until 7 or 8 the next morning. I did this for a week until her schedule was reorganized, and she's slept through the night since. And no, she didn't demand when she got older to sleep with me and her father. Also, keeping the kids out of your bed is a crock and, in my opinion, cruel – depending on the child. Some kids need more touch than others. I say FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS!!! It's the best advice I've ever, ever gotten when it comes to raising children.

    • You are absolutely correct! Following your instinct is almost always the right one, if not always the right one. Each and every baby is a different little person, and you can NEVER spoil a baby with love!

  5. Great tips and information… and so true!

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About the Author

Dr. Aaron Traeger
Dr. Aaron Traeger

Dr. Aaron Traeger is a pediatrician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Medical Group. His philosophy of care focuses on providing an outstanding medical home that not only focuses on illness but also on child development and family interactions.