Like most babies after the first few blissful weeks—when they do nothing other than sleep, eat, and look adorable—my daughter became more alert, and getting her to fall asleep was suddenly a bigger challenge. After enough middle-of-the-night wakeups, you may find yourself frantically researching, “how to get a baby to sleep.” I knew popular methods of baby sleep training, like crying it out, weren’t for me. So I wanted to find other nurturing ways to help her drift off.
Here are a few of the natural baby sleep methods that worked for me after some trial and error.
Build a Routine
Because babies do so much napping in the daytime, it can be helpful to give them signals that it’s time to sleep for the night. Developing a routine early on is a great way to help your baby learn the difference between naps and bedtime. When my daughter was still an infant, I started our nightly routine by winding down the evening with a soothing bath. After her bath I would dim the lights, dress her in pajamas, and read a book before putting her to bed. At five years old we still follow a similar pattern.
Try setting up a bedtime routine using whichever steps you and your baby prefer in the process of transitioning to sleep. The key is to be consistent and stick with the same routine every night. Over time, your child will learn that cues, like bathing or stories, mean it’s time to get ready for bed.
After the third night in a row of my daughter staring wide-eyed at her glowing nightlight, I realized it was time for a nightlight intervention. I turned it off, making it nearly pitch black in the room, and she instantly settled. From then on I made sure the lights were off and curtains were closed before putting my daughter to bed.
Not all babies are the same. Some may sleep better with a small nightlight, whereas others—like my daughter—need you to recreate a dark cave in order to settle down. Play around with the lighting and see what works best to help your baby fall and stay asleep.
Make Some Noise
It may sound counter-intuitive to add noise to your baby’s room to help him or her fall asleep, but fans and similar white noise can be very relaxing for children, especially if they’re sensitive to isolated sounds that white noise can down out. The air filter in my daughter’s room did double duty, keeping the air clean and providing just enough white noise to help lull her to sleep. However, there are tons of noise machines, even smartphone apps, made specifically for creating white noise. Play around with different soothing sounds and see what works best for your baby.
Swaddling is a great natural method to help young babies catch their Zs. My daughter loved being swaddled and it worked wonders for her sleep schedule, particularly when she went through a colicky phase. Just make sure you’re swaddling correctly, as Mayo Clinic demonstrates, to keep your baby safe.
Don’t worry if these methods don’t work right away; it might take a combination of a few things, and some time and patience, to help your baby learn to fall asleep. A restless baby can make for an exhausted parent, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Eventually, you may even miss these snugly, late-night moments! So enjoy them while you can.
Provide your fellow parent some relief. Use the comments below to share your own ideas on how to get a baby to sleep naturally.
Image source: Sher Warkentin