How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?

One of the biggest challenges of having a new baby – or sometimes a big baby, a toddler, or a child – is trying to get them to sleep through the night. Many children adopt this skill naturally, but there are many who need some help to develop optimal sleep skills. My children fell into the latter category, which is why I chose to become a pediatric sleep consultant.

The first things to check when you want to improve your baby’s sleep are schedule and environment. Sometimes just a tweak to the schedule or adjusting the sleep space can be an easy way to help your baby to sleep better. It is essential to make sure that all of the pieces are in place before you begin formally sleep training your baby to ensure the best chance of success. If

  1. Be sure you are helping your baby to go to sleep at age appropriate times. Your baby’s brain uses circadian rhythms to prepare for sleep during naptimes and the night stretch. If your baby is currently on a schedule that is not developmentally appropriate for her age, consider shifting her routines. Read more about age appropriate schedules here. A consistent routine preceding naptime and bedtime is also a powerful way to support your baby in getting better sleep. Read more about sleep routines here.
  2. Optimize your baby’s sleep space. Darkness is your ally. Your baby’s brain naturally produces melatonin in response to the dark. If your baby’s room has a light source such as a bright night light, light coming around the door, or sneaking in through a window, it may be halting melatonin production and making it more difficult for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. Do you have a source of white noise in your baby’s room? White noise can be a powerful cue to your baby’s brain that it is time to sleep. Read more about white noise here. Is your baby kicking off their blankets and getting too cold, or overheating and getting too hot? Consider investing in a sleep sack that is made of the right material to help your baby to be a comfortable temperature when in her sleep space.
  3. Help your baby to learn independent sleep skills. There are several methods that are successfully used to sleep train babies. My favorite is parental fading, also known as the Sleep Lady Shuffle, because it allows the parent to be physically near and responsive to their baby at every stage of the process, gradually weaning her from sleep crutches that have been preventing her from getting the sleep she needs. Read more about parental fading here.

Having a baby who doesn’t sleep well can be devastating. We all need sleep, and when we don’t get it, it can be really hard to function! Not all babies are born good sleepers, but almost every baby can be taught. If you have any questions or would like additional support as you improve your baby’s sleep, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You aren’t alone!