By Jaimie, Contributing Writer
Ahh, sleep. It often seems as elusive for newborns as it is for their parents. And when baby won’t sleep, mom and dad don’t either! If you’re a new parent, chances are you’ve already encountered at least one occasion when it seemed that your baby just would not go to sleep.
I’ve been there! I totally understand. And I’ve learned a few tricks to help my baby sleep. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but they’re all worth a try!
5 Tricks to Try When Baby Won’t Sleep
Note: some of these suggestions are based on Dr. Harvey Karp’s advice in The Happiest Baby on the Block. If you’re really struggling to help your little one sleep, I highly recommend this book!
Some babies just won’t sleep well when it’s quiet! Or they need enough noise to drown out the sound of their own crying so they can relax. I have found running water and the sound of the vacuum to be very helpful! Sometimes all it takes is turning on the vacuum or the faucet, and other times I have to combine this trick with another. But it usually helps!
Newborn babies especially are used to almost constant movement as they moved with your body while they were in the womb. This can take a variety of forms: rocking, swaying, bouncing (make sure to support baby’s head!), or even a trip in the car. We live in an upstairs apartment and sometimes all it takes is the trip downstairs in his car seat for my son to fall asleep, as we carry him down.
Babies suck instinctively and it’s a comforting thing for them to do. Try offering to nurse, or if they’re not hungry, give them a pacifier or your finger, if they haven’t learned to suck on their own fingers yet. Frequently this is all it takes to lull my son to sleep when he’s almost out but can’t quite relax all the way.
Newborns especially benefit from swaddling, as it mimics the restrictive comfort of the womb. If wrapping up a baby burrito sounds daunting, you can buy a variety of “swaddlers” that are designed to make the process a lot easier.
5- Change Positions
If your baby doesn’t stay asleep well on his or her back, try laying them on their side (or even their tummy; just make sure there are no loose sheets, blankets, or burp cloths anywhere near their face). A rolled-up receiving blanket tucked next to their back will help prevent them rolling from their side to their back and waking themselves up.
Bonus: A Combination Deal!
Probably the most effective way I’ve found to get my son to sleep when he simply won’t fall asleep on his own, is to put him in the Moby wrap (which is much like swaddling), and vacuum my house (which combines movement and noise). Between all those things he’s usually out in ten minutes or less, and he usually stops crying as soon as I turn on the vacuum. Plus, my carpets get vacuumed, so it’s a win-win!
Your baby will, eventually fall asleep and stay asleep on his or her own! It might seem like that’s an eternity away, but you’ll get there. In the meantime, try some of these tricks–and when baby finally does get to sleep, reward yourself with a nap!
What Do You Do When Your Baby Won’t Sleep? What Are Some of Your Best Tips and Tricks?
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