10 Ways to Get Your Newborn on a Sleep Schedule
Sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and chaos are all rights of passage when becoming a parent. Especially if it’s your first, but even if it’s your second child, third, or more- getting adequate rest, and time to yourself can be a struggle. The best way to bring back structure and stability into your home after having your baby is getting your newborn on a sleep schedule… But how?
Well, I’ve had to do this not once, but three times. I know what it’s like to go without sleep and worse- to also wake up and have to care for other kiddos after a night of no sleep. It’s definitely not easy and if you have a great support system- don’t be afraid to use it! Above all else, now is the time to call in those favors.
But if you’re not close to friends and family or if you’re just having a tough time with this baby (because every child is different), you might need to try new things…
Three times tried and true, here are:
10 Ways to Get Your Newborn on a Sleep Schedule
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1) Determine the times when your baby is the most sleepy. Are they rubbing their eyes, cranky, or drifting off? Do they sleep right after eating? Take note of your infant’s behavior and create a corresponding sleep schedule. (Don’t worry- this schedule can eventually be adjusted to fit yours.) You don’t need a fancy timer or anything, just a piece of paper and a pen.
2) Stick to a specific schedule. Regardless of what life throws at you, baby’s sleep schedule takes priority. Let it be known that you are not available during baby’s sleep time. Don’t schedule any appointments, visits, or shopping trips during this time. If you are out, make sure you are back in time- without fail. It won’t always be like this- so don’t worry. But at least for the first month, you need to stay consistent to set up expectations!
3) Communicate it to the world! Post a sign on your front door or over your doorbell, letting people know not to ring. You can get a sign (like this) OR you can go a step beyond for those solicitors that tend to ignore the signs and get this doorbell cover. Make sure to turn off your phone and/or let friends and family know ahead of time that these are the hours you’re sleep training, so please DO NOT DISTURB. If you have pups that like to warn you of strangers (or strange noises), you might want to let them outside during nap time, too.
4) Create a sleep-time routine. There should be a routine in place right before you put baby to sleep. Feeding, reading a book, or quiet time in a rocking chair/glider before each sleep time lets baby know what to expect. Once they learn that this is what happens before sleep time, they’ll adjust accordingly. The key is consistency.
5) Set the tone. Babies need rest during the day, but bright lights and noise hardly signify sleep time. Dimming the lights, closing the blinds or curtains, and creating a sleep-inducing atmosphere helps to get your infant one step closer to drifting off. It also helps to put them in the same place to sleep for every nap.
6) Get a white noise maker. A white noise maker has saved me on many occasions. Ocean sounds, gentle rains, or heartbeat- whatever baby’s preference is, sets the mood and acts as a sound barrier against outside noises. It leaves you free to wash dishes, vacuum, or get some laundry done without disturbing the baby- and freedom is a wonderful thing for a sleep-deprived, exhausted Mom. (Check out the PORTABLE one I linked to above. Wish I had that for when we were out visiting or on vacation!)
7) Assess their situation. Make sure your little one is fed, burped, and has a clean diaper before putting them down. This might seem obvious (especially if this isn’t your first rodeo), but sleep deprivation sometimes messes with your brain function. One or all of these things can keep your baby from sleeping for an extended amount of time and should be checked BEFORE you put them down.
8) Swaddle. Some babies love to be swaddled, but some do not. My kiddos did not like to be swaddled, but it does come highly recommended from other Moms. Try swaddling to see if that works for your little one and it might be just the thing you needed to get some rest. You don’t have to buy a fancy swaddler, you can swaddle with any light blanket you have on hand. (TIP: I LOVE Muslin blankets! They come in handy for more than just swaddling, they’re very breathable and perfect as a breast feeding cover).
9) Find the Best Position. Does your baby have reflux? Do they cry and curve their back after feedings? Sometimes the best way to get a baby with reflux to sleep is in an inclined position. We had the Fisher Price Rock N Play that we loved because it was easily portable, but some babies love the swing and some love co-sleeping or being next to Mom. Finding the best position and place will take some trial and error (and every kiddo is different), but don’t waste your time sticking to one sleep location. Try a few to find what works best for your baby (and you).
10) Substitute Mom. Sometimes our little ones just miss us (they have no idea how much housework and/or rest we need ourselves! Placing your shirt, or something that smells like you in the crib with the baby might just ease their anxiety about being away from you.
Last but not least, NEVER SHOW FEAR!
Babies can sense fear, so make sure that you stay consistent and not unsure of yourself (this will come in handy as they get older, too). If they aren’t sick, follow the same steps every day. Even if they do end up sick, try to stick to the pattern as closely as you can and as soon as they start to feel better, get right back to the schedule. They have to think that there are no other options and this is what it is.
Those first few months with baby aren’t easy, but following these tips can make it a little easier on you both. The key is consistency. Be consistent and let little one know what to expect and when. This will put them on a schedule- which frees up a little time in yours!Find out how to get your #Newborn to sleep, so you can, too! Check it out: Click To Tweet
For more tips on babies, check out 10 Smart Baby Buys and 10 Pampered Chef Products Every Mom Needs.
Do you have any tips to add to this list? What do/did you do to get your infant on a consistent sleep schedule?
38 thoughts on “10 Ways to Get Your Newborn on a Sleep Schedule”
I literally love everything about this! Wish I would’ve stumbled across this 18 months ago when I was struggling with my youngest. Great ideas!
Awww, thanks so much, Kimberly!!! I’m glad you’re past the struggle, though!
It’s really hard for newborn babies to get used to some sleeping schedule.. Our baby boy is already 5 months old and I’m so happy we can (somehow) sleep soundly at night. Anyway, these tips are great! Thanks for sharing.
Yay! I’m glad you can finally get some sleep, Journa!
I’ve never heard of the substitute mom tip before, that’s an interesting concept. I’ve had some friends whose babies had a schedule immediately and others who didn’t. It’s always fun figuring it out
Hey Angela! Each kid is different, and it’s a trial and error game at first. I was never one of the lucky ones whose baby had a schedule immediately, but with each kid, I figured them out quicker with these tactics.
With my eldest, since she was the first, it was tough to adjust and set up a routine! I think routines are really important if you want to get more sleep during the night. These are great tips!
Thanks Ann Marie- I definitely know what it’s like to have a tough time adjusting.
I agree with the sound machine and the swaddle. Both were lifesavers for us and the book Babywise.
Hey Carolyn… Ooooo… I haven’t heard of Babywise, but I will definitely look into it!
These are all great tips. I passed this along to all my Mommy friends!
Thanks so much, Shannon!!
Uh oh, the sleep schedule. My first little guy had a schedule from day 2 and it was a blessing. My second one, did not sleep no matter what we did. She had cholic and that interrupted any plans for sleep for anyone in the house. These tips you mentioned above are great, and for some it will work the magic. For some….it’s just going to be a lost.
Hey Ayana- you’re right. Every kid is different. You just have to keep trying ’till you find what works.
These are all great tips. Sticking to a schedule is essential. I always laugh when I hear people say they are going to let the baby tell them when to sleep because I know they are in for misery. You can let your baby guide you but you have to determine their routine.
thanks for sharing these wonderful tips..
You’re welcome, Navya!
Great tips, sleep is often one of those things that people (of all ages haha!) struggle with
Very true, Aine!
Great tips for new moms. Very helpful post for new moms who are mostly sleep deprived trying to adjust to this new phase.
It’s a huge adjustment! Thanks, Deepa.
These are all great tips. I will share this with my sister in law because my niece wakes up every night.
Awesome tips for new parents! When our youngest was a baby, we had a hard time putting him on a schedule.
Thanks, Emily! It’s such a tough time, the first few months.
Haha I love that – never show fear! I’m sure many a mamas and papas will appreciate your amazing tips for sleep training baby.
Thank You, Nadalie!
These seem like wonderful tips. Something to keep in mind and share with new parents to be.
You have really good tips Pam! I love your NEVER SHOW FEAR tip, LOL I think I did that with my daughter cause she walked all over us as a baby and now as a 4 yr old it continues!
Hahaha- that was the most important tip of all. LOL Thanks, Crystal.
I’m not a Mom but I can imagine that these are such helpful tips. I love the idea of sound machines because I use these to sleep now as a 30 year old so I think that is something that is generally soothing for sleep.
I always just went with the flow with my babies as newborns. They generally were on great schedules, but after 7 going with the flow kind of just always happened! lol.
Wow Jeanine! 7 kiddos? Forget sleep schedules- I bet you have stories for days!LOL
I don’t have kids yet, but I’ll have to save this for the future. I also love the substitute mother idea. I bet that’s calming for the baby.
We are getting ready to welcome our sixth baby in the next month or so, and have never had great success with a sleep schedule, they each seem to make their own! haha. i will def keep these tips in mind though!