When you first lay eyes on your beautiful sweet baby and she falls asleep in your arms, it is a blissful moment that you want to last forever. Then that sweet love turns into a monster and wails her head off and you have no idea what you did or what to do!!! “How to get my baby to sleep as soon as possible” becomes the most pressing question on your mind.
There begins the quest to return your baby to her angel state as quickly as possible and to keep her that way as long as possible.
The most pressing question:
There is an entire industry built around this one question of “how to get my baby to sleep.” The baby product industry knows it is every parent’s biggest desire to ensure that their newborns do not turn into colicky babies while getting the 15-18 hours of sleep daily they need to grow and stay healthy.
As an experienced mama you know that the newborn phase doesn’t last forever, actually, you know it goes by in a blink of your exhausted postpartum eye.
What we forget though, is how to get through it with our sanity, and what tools we actually need to help us reach that goal. Especially since you’ve probably given all your newborn and infant gear away by now.
Check out my post on extending the 4th Trimester: How to have a Happy Baby Postpartum. There you will find all the guidance I can give you on how to keep your baby happy, soothed and content. Sounds good right?
Here, I am going to remind you what you actually need to get again for your baby this time around, and what you can safely leave behind in the shopping cart or better yet, on the shelf.
How to get my baby to sleep through the NEWBORN stage
Baby is going to sleep best near mom. I was going to say mom and dad, but let’s face it, for the first 8-12 weeks, mom is all baby really wants.
Having the bassinet near your bed will make it easiest if you are nursing to pick her up and put her in bed with you to nurse. If you are bottle-feeding, you want to hear her rousing so you (or BETTER YET, DAD) will have time to jump up and get the bottle ready before your sweet angel has fully transformed into the 3 am Monster.
If you cannot find a relatively new, safe, clean second-hand bassinet like I did, then try a simple one like this Delta Children Deluxe Sweet Beginnings Bassinet.
Fitted Bassinet sheets (2) You’ll want 2 bassinet sheets to change out as necessary.
You will want your baby to wear a blanket in the night to keep warm (even in the summer) but you won’t want to worry about safety. These Swaddle SleepSack for Newborns by Halo SleepSack is my favorite for the newborn months. Have 2 of these to swap out for washing during blowout events.
Think about the season your baby will be in and get a seasonally appropriate Swaddle SleepSack. There are 100% Cotton versions for spring, lightweight muslin cotton versions for summer and microfleece versions for the fall and winter season.
A cool cotton muslin Swaddle Blanket by Aden and Anais serves so many purposes in your baby’s newborn days. Not only can you swaddle your baby to keep her arms from flinching and startling baby, but they can serve as cover-up for nursing, a big burp cloth for your projectile vomiter (if you have one of those babies, sorry by the way if you do).
As a cool blanket cover up when she’s in her car seat. As a privacy cover for the car seat as well while she naps when you’re out and about. You can use it as a floor covering for laying baby down on the floor, as a backup baby changing pad cover, I could go on and on. Their generous size works well for all these. And they wash really well and are long lasting. Have 4-8 of these and you’ll be good to go to put one in the car, in the diaper bag, on the changing table, in the bassinet or rock ‘n play as a light cover, etc.
Phillips Advent SCF Smoothie Pacifier 0-3 if you are going to give a pacifier which worked well for self-soothing with 2 of my 3 children, make sure the pacifier is the style that closely resembles a natural breast shape elongated in the mouth. This one by Phillips Advent is the style most recommended by nurses and lactation consultants, and will not cause nipple confusion.
One day when my son was around 6 months or so, he tossed his paci aside when I tried to stick it in his mouth to go to bed. I took it out of the crib since he didn’t want it and so it wouldn’t fall out, and he fell asleep anyway.
From that moment, I knew he didn’t need it to sleep and he never missed it again. He found one when he was almost 2 years old and looked at it like “what is this thing for?” He didn’t remember and he didn’t miss it, nor want it back. Hope it’s that easy for you too when its time for your baby to give up the paci.
My daughter on the other hand, had a paci until she was nearly 3 years old. LOL! My other daughter, didn’t want a paci at all. Each kid is so different.
Feel no guilt whatsoever if you do give your baby a pacifier because suck is a natural soothing mechanism for babies. If you do, try this one and make sure you get the size appropriate to the baby’s age (mouth size). 0-3 months, 3-6 months, etc.
A Video Baby Monitor is useful to peek and see how your baby is doing without showing your face to her, which you will regret hardily!! Is she sleeping soundly? Starting to rouse? Wide awake but happy?
Get a monitor that can pan around the room so later you can follow your toddler’s doing when she’s out of her bed. Night vision capability is imperative.
A two-way talk function to be able to communicate with the baby to soothe her or dad while he’s changing diapers etc. is helpful too.
The one I picked has been working well for over 2 years and while the picture is not HD, I get the idea of what’s going on in his room.
Also, I was intentional about not picking a wifi monitor. I do not want the business inside my baby’s room to be accessible over the internet. Call me paranoid, that’s fine, but deep down we all wonder if big brother is actually watching. I personally don’t want to find out he had direct access to the inside of my private home for years.
Don’t even get me on the topic of all these “video phone devices”.
And now there are some that are smart enough to follow you through the room. No thank you. Enough said.
Oh, and you will forget the baby monitor is on and get caught complaining about a family member from the ‘privacy’ of the baby’s room in your postpartum hormonal haze. LOL! OOPS! So watch what you say or do while the monitor is on.
Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine, White This is an ABSOLUTE MUST and I wish I got one when my first two were babies. My son sleeps like a rock with this machine on making fan-like noise to block out the rest of the loudness of our home.
See The 4th Trimester: How to have a Happy Baby Postpartum post for all the reasons you want and need this essential tool.
Nursery Lamp or Light
A Dimmable Light is so useful in the nursery. A soft light to turn on if you need to see to change diapers at night, breastfeeding at bedtime, and as a night light. This one is dimmable and portable.
When your baby outgrows the need for this, you can find other uses for it. It can become a portable camping lantern or you can use it for bike riding at night. Okay? That is versatile. We LOVE products that have an afterlife after the baby years.
How to get my baby to sleep through the INFANT Stage
Phew! You made it!! Baby is out of the newborn stage and into the infant stage. Routines are a bit more predictable now, the sleep patterns are longer and baby might be giving you signs that a full night of sleep is possible again. Maybe.
If not, you aren’t doing anything wrong. It will happen in the next few months, trust me.
At this point, you may be wanting to put your baby to sleep in her nursery inside her crib. Go for it. She will be too big for the bassinet by 15 pounds so you might have to transition to the stage a bit earlier if you have a bigger baby.
That’s fine, sometimes bigger babies sleep better because their stomachs are a tiny bit bigger and hold more milk keeping them fuller, longer. Resulting in longer hours of sleep between feedings.
Your supplies don’t have to get more complicated. In fact, all you need to add now are:
Choose a crib like this Pali Imperia Forever Crib with a side that removes for turning into a toddler bed. Our Pali crib is 15+ years old and I was ecstatic that I kept it.
All my kids used this crib and it is still in fabulous shape. It is solid wood so it is absolutely one of the best purchases of baby products ever in terms of longevity and durability. The return on investment was well worth it.
This particular crib converts to a toddler bed (with an add-on piece). You can make it a daybed (which is how my toddler uses it) and in the future, you can convert it to a full-size bed. Get the rails now though, in case you can’t find the conversion rails in 5 (or 15) years. Ask me how I know. 🙂
Crib Mattress and Sheets
Make sure you pick a breathable, light mattress that flips to a toddler mattress like this one.
Why do I say light? Because you have to pick that sucker up to change sheets over railings. I got the lightest quality mattress I could find and I am SOOOO glad I did. It was worth every penny in the ease of changing sheets.
And when is that most important? When your baby is busy wailing in the rock n play you set her in because she wet her bed in the middle of the night, and now you have to change the sheets and quickly get her back in there before she wakes up the rest of the house/block, you’ll understand why.
Waterproof mattress cover (2) Get two. I only registered for one and while you can get by with one if you have a laundry room in your home, you will be taking a big risk with just a mattress and sheet with no protection in between washings while your baby is battling diarrhea. Ask me how I know….
SleepSack for Infants
SleepSack for infants in the appropriate weight for the season. Keep buying these lovelies. They are a lifesaver to knowing that your baby is kept warm all night and cannot throw her blankets off if she is a mover and a shaker.
Definitely keep the white noise machine. That thing is a lifesaver to drown out background noise in the house while your baby is sleeping. Teenagers yelling and a toddler sleeping is a bad combination without a white noise machine.
Pro tip: Get a noise machine like this if your teens have a hard time sleeping. I should have gotten one a decade ago for them. Honestly. They sleep like babies now. Better than they did when they were babies actually.
How to get my baby to sleep through the TODDLER STAGE
When your baby is sitting, standing and starting to cruise you will want to make sure there is nothing your baby can use to step on as a boost for jumping out of the crib.
Once the gig is up and your baby realizes she can get out of the crib by climbing over you will want to remove the front bars off the crib to convert it into a toddler bed. This is a great alternative to moving right away into a Big Kid bed.
The crib is familiar even with the new look, and it will extend your use of this piece of furniture an extra year or two. Indeed, your toddler wouldn’t need to move to a twin size bed for several more years.
SleepSack for Toddlers
Toddler SleepSack with openings for footies so your baby can sleep warmly at night and still get up to walk if she needs to.
Sleep Safety for Toddlers
Flip the mattress to the Toddler Side which is usually a bit softer and more comfortable. The infant side is quite stiff to prevent SIDS.
Now that your love is fully mobile and free from the constraints of the crib, it will be up to you to create firm boundaries of the bedroom for bedtime.
You will need to find a way to keep baby in the room until you let her out. If her room is on the second floor, you will need to keep her from wandering so she doesn’t stumble down the stairs in a drowsy state. And safe from wandering the house in the middle of the night.
Or in the morning while you are showering, making coffee, etc. I have known quite a few kids who sleep-walked in the middle of the night and figured out how to unlock the front doors. Egads!!!
Make sure you have a lock for the outside of the door to be able to keep your child safely in her room. Particularly at night. We lock the door with a simple hook and key lock on the top of the door and door jam.
Our son’s converted crib/toddler bed does not have a rail on the side. So early on you would hear, “DOOF”. He fell out of bed again. Sometimes he would wake up but often he didn’t and he would just carry on sleeping on the floor.
So silly. So we got into the habit of putting a cushiony old comforter on the floor so he had a softer surface to land on and to keep him off the cold hardwood. We would check the monitor and often find him cuddled up on the comforter on the floor.
It wasn’t long before he either learned to stay on his bed or get back into it when he did slide off. And since the crib mattress is so close to the floor, it was never an issue of him hurting himself, so we opted out of the extra toddler bed rail.
What is good sleep for a baby, infant, toddler?
Here is a great chart for appropriate hours of sleep based on baby age from the Baby Sleep Site. I found this chart to be wildly accurate.
Sleep is what you decide it should be. My policy was to set a timer or look at my watch when I first put my son to sleep to help me be realistic on how long he was actually fussing at bedtime.
If he cried in excess of 5 minutes after I put him down for either a nap or bedtime at night, I would go back in to soothe or check on him to see if something is actually wrong.
I almost never needed to go in to do this. He usually fell asleep right away or was calm and self-soothing well within the 5 minutes time more like after 30 seconds.
But follow your instincts even if it means needing to do the routine again.
One time my son was crying because his pinky was getting squeezed by a hole in a crocheted blanket that got wrapped around too many times. I freed his finger and he slept like usual. So glad I followed my instinct to check though. The outcome could have been a lot different.
Nowadays we have a routine of books, songs, kisses, and hugs. He helps me close the door sometimes if he feels the need to walk me to the door. But many times he stays in bed and waves goodnight from there.
I close the door as I am wishing him “goodnight” or “have a good nap.” “See you in the morning. I love you. Goodnight.”
Then I would check the monitor and watch him roll, roll, roll around the bed, look at hands, play with a truck, roll some more and done. Out for the nap/night.
You can do this, and so can your child. Rest is necessary for both of you. So enjoy good habits of sleep routines.
Here is to many a restful night my friend, that is until potty training time comes along. 🙂
P.S. If you haven’t already, start your Baby Registry with Amazon today. It’s totally fine to have one even if your angel has been born.
Your family really does want to know what you need for your lovey. Make it convenient to the max for you and for your family and friends.
Delivery to your door, easy returns, and a world of products to choose from. Here is the link to Baby Registry with Amazon. Congratulations Mama!
Chandra is the chocolate-chip loving mother of 2 teenage girls who started over again with a baby boy in her 40’s! She is the author of The Mom’s Playbook to Conquering Softball Season. She gives other moms the tools they need to prepare their daughters for real life. Her content is centered on helping girls grow up to be well-rounded, equipped, expressive, confident, intelligent, capable, kind and independent.