My baby won’t sleep! My baby fights me every nap time! Sound familiar? Don’t worry; you’re not alone.
For nine months, the baby’s schedule was based around the womb’s movements and the body they were snuggled safely in. Now they’re here with you in the big wide world, and everything is different. There are numerous ways you can help your baby find the sleep schedule that’s right for them – and you.
When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night?
This is different for every baby. Newborns need to sleep approximately 18 hours a day, but they also need to feed every 3 to 4 hours. So, it’s unrealistic to expect your two-week-old baby to sleep for more than a handful of hours at a time.
As your baby grows and their tummy gets bigger, and they get more used to the outside world, they’ll feed less regularly and sleep for longer – although feedings may be longer too. Here are the approximate amounts of sleep your child might need at each age milestone:
- Newborn to 2 months: Up to 18 hours a day, in 3 or 4 hour bursts
- 2 to 3 months: Up to 16 hours a day, possibly up to 6 hours at a time
- 3 to 6 months: Still up to 16 hours a day, but 3-4 of these in the day and up to 12 hours a night. Your 3-month-old sleep schedule might finally seem like some routine is forming
- 6 to 12 months: 12- 16 hours a day, most likely with two naps during the day and the majority of the sleep at night
How to Put a Baby to Sleep
You should always place your baby on their back to sleep. Babies should also be on a firm, flat surface – no squashy mattresses or soft cushions for sleeping. Any sheets should be fitted with no possibility of coming loose.
Don’t put additional loose blankets or pillows in with your baby. All these guidelines are direct from the American Academy of Pediatrics and help prevent SIDS, short for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?
Babies are, quite frankly, a bit mysterious, and there sometimes seems to be no reason why they won’t just let go and drift off to sleep. However, do always check the following:
- Their diaper
- Have they fed?
- Do they need burping?
- Are their pajamas too tight/warm/cool?
They may also just need a cuddle – babies yearn for comfort, so give it to them whenever they want it!
10 Tips for Helping Your Baby to Sleep
Is your baby fighting sleep? Here are ten tips from parents and parenting experts to help you gently guide your baby to sleep. Remember, not every tip will work for every baby – and that’s okay. Like you, your baby is unique and will sleep through in their own time.
1) Sleep Cues
Start early with familiar cues that you use every time it’s sleep time. Try a soothing piece of music, and make sure it’s the same piece every time. Your baby will come to associate that music with sleep time. A particular story is another excellent cue.
2) Bath Time Equals Nighttime
A warm, soothing bath can help relax the baby’s muscles, and if done every night, can become a sleep cue.
4) White Noise
The womb is a surprisingly noisy place, and the outside world can be a little too quiet. Try a white noise generator at sleep time to remind the baby of the safety of the womb. Many smartphones have downloadable white noise apps.
5) Sleeping Baby: To Wake or Not to Wake?
You may want to wake a napping baby if they haven’t eaten for several hours or if you are worried they are sick. Generally, though, let your baby sleep – and catch a few precious hours yourself!
Baby loves your voice, and the more you use it, the closer your bond will be. Sing a lullaby or even the theme from a favorite TV show before they sleep, or if they wake in the night. If your baby gets used to hearing your voice like this, you could even record yourself singing for your partner to use when you’re catching up on sleep.
7) Remove Stimulation
You can’t go straight from playing peekaboo to naptime. Try and have a period of wind down. Turn the TV off, switch to sleep-cue music, and stop any boisterous games. This helps the baby’s brain get ready to sleep.
8) Soft Lighting
Getting the baby ready for bed in a brightly lit room could be sabotaging sleep time. Make sure the lights are soft and gentle for at least 30 minutes before you want the baby to sleep.
9) Put Baby Down Before They Sleep
This one is tricky, but try and put your baby down as they’re winding down, rather than after they’ve already fallen fast asleep on you. This teaches them that the crib or bassinet is the place to fall asleep. Some babies resist this, so don’t panic if this doesn’t work for you straight away.
Babies are amazing empaths. They pick up on your stress, and if you’re highly anxious because they won’t sleep, they can affect them. Your baby will eventually get into a good sleep routine, and as long as they’re healthy and happy, you have nothing to worry about. Take time to look after yourself, eat well, drink plenty of water, and, of course, sleep as much as you can yourself!
Beyond Baby: Getting Your Older Kids to Sleep
As your kids get older, their sleeping habits might change, but you still want them to be comfy and cozy all night. Look out for unique products like the Little Sleepy Head Youth Pillow, carefully crafted for just the right neck support for older children, plus they’re 100% hypoallergenic. They’ll even adjust the amount of stuffing in the pillow to suit your child perfectly!
Some of our baby sleep tips will work at any age: soft, white noise, minimal lighting, and a bed with minimal clutter are great ideas for any sleep routine. Even for grownups!
Why do babies fight sleep? When do babies start sleeping through the night? Every child is different, but we explore the possible answers plus ten tried and tested tips to help you figure out how to get the baby to sleep through the night.