Okay, I’m guessing you clicked on this article because you are desperate for advice on how to get a baby to sleep. Trust me, I understand. While my first child was no walk in the park when it came to getting rest, my second child was the real challenge when it came to getting consistent, RESTORATIVE sleep.
It’s a bit of a bad-news, good-news situation. The bad news is there isn’t really a guaranteed and instant cure to getting your baby to sleep. The good news is you have a couple of options here to try and get them to sleep now, in the short term. In addition, there are a couple suggestions for later to foster healthier sleep habits in general for your little one. That way, you both get better, more restorative sleep (win-win).
Short Term Approaches (i.e. I just need to get this kid to go to sleep)
- Determine if essential needs are met
First thing’s first, you have to make sure all their other needs are met. Are they fully fed? Do they need a diaper change? Could they be uncomfortable (temperature, clothing, etc.)? Do they seem to be in pain or ill?
It seems obvious but this is an important checklist to run through before your little one is ready to fall asleep.
- Tissue or light face stroking
If your baby is fighting off sleep and just needs a little extra something to close their eyes, this trick might be worth a try. Take something light and delicate, a tissue for instance. You’ll then lightly and slowly run it down your baby’s face.
Alternatively, you can use your thumb to lightly stroke their face. Start just above the eyebrows and run to the middle of their nose and repeat until they drift off.
- Blow in their face
My husband was adamant that this would work. He grew up in a much different culture than I did. After asking around, it’s true that other people use this method and many of them swear by it. Essentially, you lightly blow on your child’s face to get them to close their eyes more, eventually lulling them to sleep.
Just as a warning, THIS MAY NOT GO WELL. It seems to be a 50-50 split as to whether it will help your child sleep or royally tick them off into an epic scream-fest. Good luck on this one and may the odds be ever in your favor.
- Wear them in a carrier
My second child required me to wear him in order to fall asleep for the first four or so months. It’s still my go-to option when I really just need him to nap. Baby carriers come in all kinds of models – it’s merely a matter of finding the type that suits you. Being close to you, coupled with the motion of your walking, helps them calm down and fall asleep. Wearing your baby can be practical as it gives you the ability to use your hands and take care of other necessary chores (if you feel like it). However, many babies don’t transfer well from the carrier to the crib so be prepared to wear them for the duration of the sleep period if necessary.
- Take a drive in the car
I swore I would never drive merely for the sake of getting my child to sleep, and yet, here I am. Riding in a car has a way of soothing most babies with motion and sound. I would advise against this method though if you are severely sleep deprived since driving drowsy is one of the leading causes of auto accidents.
Once you get the baby to sleep in the short-term, it’s a good idea to work on forming longer-term sleep habits.
- Schedule and Routines
It may seem next to impossible at first, but over time your baby is likely to develop a biological rhythm for sleep. Once you notice this, you can create a schedule for naps and bedtime.
Babies also respond to routines for sleep, such as a particular story or lullaby.
Make sure your baby is neither over- or under-stimulated as this will make sticking to the schedule more difficult. Depending on your baby’s age, practicing tummy time, playing in a jumper, running errands, taking a walk, or playdates with similarly aged children are all potential sources of stimulation. Have a set amount of maximum awake time between periods of sleep and do your best to keep them from staying up longer than that.
Remaining calm will help your baby feel calm, and thus, they are more likely to fall asleep. This is easier said than done, so try not to be too hard on yourself. As daunting as it sounds, it’s also perfectly normal for your baby to go through “developmental leaps” and have issues sleeping throughout the first years of life.