Top recommendations for how to get your baby to sleep
Gentle movement and song
1. Rock your baby in a baby swing or hold him and rock him in a rocking chair.
2. Take your baby for a drive in his car seat. As with #1 above, you might find that various forms of movement can lull your baby to sleep.
3. Sing a lullaby or play a soft lullaby on the radio. You can try the music in a mobile but might find that many mobiles have a preset volume and the music can be more stimulating than calming for the baby even though the mobiles are often marketed to help aid your baby in falling asleep.
Warmth and comfort
4. Dim the lights and block out all noise excluding some gentle music as noted in #3.
5. Keep your baby warm and cozy. Remember that if you are comfortable, your baby will be comfortable too so prevent overheating by not dressing your baby in too many layers and by not using too many blankets. Nevertheless, keep the baby warm just not too warm. The warmth will help the baby sleep.
Baby still adjusting to being outside of the womb
6. Naturally, a baby especially a newborn baby often looks for things that mimic the womb. Do not be surprised if your baby even wants to sleep in the fetal position in the beginning. You might notice the baby crossing his legs as a fetus does in the womb. The sixth recommendation is to hold your baby against your chest and let him feel your heartbeat. The sound and vibration will help him to sleep.
7. When you can't hold your baby to your chest, the gentle ticking of a clock has been known to have a similar effect of the heartbeat in getting the baby to sleep. Try placing a ticking clock in your baby's nursery.
8. In the womb, the baby typically experiences a bit of a whooshing noise that is constant and not unlike the sound of a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer. Contradictory to the earlier suggestion to block out all noise, some say that turning on a hair dryer for a short time nearby can actually help the baby to fall asleep or at least stop crying if he or she is crying. See more in my upcoming article about how to get a baby to stop crying.
9. Swaddle your baby. Many blankets are especially made for swaddling or you can take a regular receiving blanket and shape it into a swaddler. This will help your baby to remain still while sleeping. For the first several weeks after the baby is born, he or she will exhibit the startle reflex, suddenly kicking the legs up and/or throwing the arms up sometimes while sleeping and not necessarily because of being disturbed by a noise or other environmental factor. This startle reflex can cause the baby to awaken very suddenly and waking up like that can make the baby cry. Swaddling the baby helps to prevent this.
Be careful to follow all recommendations and indications when swaddling a baby. The blankets that are specifically swaddlers typically have a very precise set of instructions on their packaging. You want to be sure that the swaddle is a perfect fit and not too big to allow the baby to move arms around underneath and possible lift material to cover the face.
Following the proper swaddle blanket recommendations is instrumental for preventing suffocation or a condition often categorized as SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). In many states, SIDS is still categorized as a death by unknown cause but much research links it to the possibility of suffocation when a baby's nose and mouth have been covered by blankets while sleeping or when the air source is obstructed for a baby sleeping on his stomach. Babies must always sleep on their backs.
Fed and changed
10. Make sure your baby has been well fed and burped. Hunger and discomfort from not being properly burped can both prevent sleep.
11. Change the diaper right before putting the baby down to sleep. This will ensure the baby's comfort and also prevent leaks.
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