When you have a baby you can expect to hear this true but frustrating advice over and over: “sleep when the baby sleeps!”
But what about when the baby won’t sleep?!
I’ve had many sleepless nights with my babies. It never gets any less frustrating, but I have learned so much about coping with the lack of sleep and encouraging my little ones to sleep longer stretches at night.
How to Pick the Best Option for Your Baby
As with any parenting situation, the best option is the one that’s going to help you and your baby the most!
I wish that I could tell you exactly what to do when your baby won’t sleep, but the truth is that it will be different for every unique baby! Even with each of my kids, there were different things that helped each of them during sleepless nights.
Think about your child’s temperament, age, health condition, and other factors to determine what will work best for them. You know them best, momma! So trust your gut!
This list is a great place to begin!
20 Things to Do When Your Baby Won’t Sleep
Having one of those stressful periods when you just can’t get your baby to sleep? Here’s some ways to help get you through the night.
Burp your baby
There’s nothing a good baby burp can’t solve, right?
If your baby is showing signs of discomfort at night, they may just need a quick burping session to get some excess gas out. Burping them before you lay them down can really help!
Try a new swaddle or sleep sack
Swaddles and sleep sacks are truly a mom’s best friend. My kids always slept so much better when they were swaddled or in sleep sacks when they grew out of the swaddle.
Take a break
If you are having an especially hard night, don’t be afraid to take a break. I promise your little one will be okay! In fact, you’ll both benefit from a bit of de-stressing.
Walk away from the baby’s room and close the door for a bit. Just grab some water, take a walk, and relax for a few minutes before making another attempt to get your baby to sleep.
Sing a lullaby
It’s been proven time and time again that baby’s love the sound of their mom’s voice. A sweet simple lullaby could soothe your baby and ease them into a deeper sleep.
My kids always loved to hear “you are my sunshine”, “twinkle twinkle little star” or “mary had a little lamb!”
Check the room
Is it too hot or cold in the room? Maybe there’s a light streaming in from somewhere!
Little things may not seem like a huge deal to you when you are sleeping, but they might be bugging your little one! A quick change in the environment could help soothe your baby.
Adjust your baby’s daytime sleep
If nighttime sleep isn’t going well, perhaps you could try switching up your daytime sleep schedule!
You wouldn’t believe how much of a difference it makes to change naptime even just a half-hour or two forward or back.
Change your sleeping arrangement
Another helpful trick is a simple change of scenery for your little one. Giving them a change of pace and perhaps a little more space from mom could help them be more independent and find a deeper sleep.
Move bedtime earlier
I can’t tell you how much of a believer I am in early bedtimes! I’m talking 6:00 pm and my little ones were in bed. Of course, it’s nice to have some extra alone time in the evenings, but it’s also so helpful for your baby’s sleep.
Just about any time my babies were having trouble sleeping, the answer was that they were overtired! Try moving up your little one’s bedtime a half-hour at a time and see if it helps.
Have quiet time before bed
It’s not just adults who need to ditch the sensory overload before bedtime. Babies need a break too!
To help them get into a more sleepy state, make sure you are cutting down on the noise, light, and playing when bedtime is near.
Adjust your bedtime routine
If you don’t have a bedtime routine… start one! If you do, perhaps you need to shorten it or make some adjustments that will help your baby fall asleep easier.
A bedtime routine should be consistent, not too lengthy, full of love, and calming. Try a short warm bath, a story, or some singing for some added relaxation!
Have a snuggle session
Helping your baby feel comfortable and safe as they fall asleep will help them soothe themselves much easier. Make sure you are getting plenty of snuggles together during bedtime!
Put baby down awake
I can’t stress enough how important it is to put your baby down awake! It’s so much easier to nurse or snuggle them until they sleep, but it can lead to so many more wake-ups at night!
After your baby hits about 3-4 months, you can safely put them down in their beds drowsy but still awake and let them fall asleep on their own. This habit will help them fall back asleep independently at night when they wake up.
Consider sleep training
Sleep training is a must in our house and maybe it can work well for your baby too! There are millions of methods to sleep train but each of them helps your baby learn to sleep on their own.
If you want some added help, consider hiring a sleep trainer! They can help you find a more personalized sleep program for your family and circumstances.
Try a pacifier
You may find that adding a pacifier during nighttime is helpful to your baby while they fall asleep. Once they fall asleep you can remove the pacifier and hopefully, they’ll continue to peacefully sleep.
If you haven’t found a pacifier you love, you should try out the MAM clear collection. They are super breathable and are extra cute!
Delay grabbing them when they fuss
I know it can be difficult to leave your baby when they are crying, but delaying grabbing them by just a minute or two can really help boost their autonomy and help develop the stepping stones for peaceful sleeping.
Enjoy some sunshine during the day
This trick is especially helpful for those newborns who get their days and nights mixed up.
Get out and grab some sunshine during the day! The more your baby is exposed to the sunshine, the more their body will recognize when they should be sleeping and awake. Plus the vitamin D from the sun is great for their growing body!
Try a different diaper for nighttime
Is your baby waking up soaked at night? That must be uncomfortable! Try sizing up in a diaper brand you love or even trying out a new brand for nighttime.
Helping them stay dry can help your baby feel more comfortable during the night.
Introduce an age-appropriate bedtime toy
If your baby is old enough to safely move things away from their face, you can introduce a small soft toy to help comfort them.
Some babies really thrive at night when they have something to snuggle with. Something like a baby lovey is always a great choice for little ones!
If your baby is still too young for a toy, try out a baby mobile instead!
Focus on soothing during the night, not playing
It’s tempting to smother your baby with kisses and love during the night when they wake up, but you may be doing more harm than good.
If you treat them with a special dose of mom-time during the night, you’re telling them that it’s play time at night and it’s okay to wake up and cry for you! So stick to soothing and feeding at night, not playing!
Ask for help
If nothing seems to be working and you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
You don’t have to do this alone. Whether it’s your partner, a relative, or a friend who lives nearby, find someone who you trust to help give you a night off.
It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for you. The little break might be all you need to help get you both back on a good nighttime routine!