8 Tricks to Getting Your Fussy Newborn Baby Down to Sleep
Babies fuss and cry for a number of reasons. See our simple tips to help settle your little one.
Chances are, you’ve tried 10 things already. Nonetheless, we’ve got a lineup of 10 fussy newborn “hacks” you should give a chance. If one of them works, it was all worth it. Or, there may be a combination of things you do as part of your ritual for getting your newborn down. If it seems like your baby wants to sleep but can’t, and if he cries inconsolably as you’re trying to get him down, hopefully, this article will help you and your baby find the right solution.
Why Is My Baby Crying?
“Why?” is the million-dollar question when your newborn babe incessantly cries, and you’ve ruled out all the obvious causes like hunger and a soiled diaper. Whereas older babies typically cry before naps or bedtime because they want comfort and don’t want to sleep alone, newborns cry for other reasons.
Newborns commonly experience digestive complaints, such as gas, acid reflux, indigestion and hiccups. Since their digestive systems are brand-new to food and they don’t yet have a colonized gut microbiome, they can have a hard time breaking down some complex molecules in breastmilk or formula. This can often lead to acidity and indigestion, as well as gas.
If you’re breastfeeding certain foods may also promote acid reflux – such as caffeine, garlic, spicy foods or dairy. Speak to your doctor and consider giving up these foods while you continue to breastfeed.
What’s more, babies take in air when they cry and when they drink milk, which also adds to the gas problem they experience after meals. Digestive issues can keep your baby awake at night, especially because lying flat makes it harder for him to expel gas and is more uncomfortable for acid reflux.
Gas and reflux are causes for crying in newborns but aren’t synonymous with colic. Colic is an ongoing crying in a healthy infant, typically in the evening. Colic peaks between 6 weeks and 3 months of age, and though the medical community hasn’t agreed on a singular cause, colic is defined as crying that occurs more than 3 hours at a time on more than 3 days a week, for 3 weeks or longer. Common theories besides reflux and gas are overstimulation and hormones that cause spasms in the digestive tract. Calming your baby’s senses by swaddling, rubbing his back, giving him a pacifier, playing white noise and dimming the lights are some of the tricks that can help colicky babies.
He Needs a Womb-Like Feel
After being enclosed inside the womb, where he couldn’t even stretch out fully, your baby is shocked by the newfound space around him. It can be hard for him to feel settled enough to sleep, because his new environment is so drastically different. When your baby feels similar to the way he did in the womb, he’s able to relax and feel comfortable. Things like swaddling, playing white noise, and walking around help your baby experience a womb-like feel, which helps soothe him to sleep.
In this post, we’re giving you 10 tricks of the trade to putting your fussy baby down to sleep, including ways that mimic the womb environment, plus additional methods that are safe and effective.
10 Tricks to Getting Your Baby to Sleep
If you’ve been rocking your baby til your back is sore and you haven’t found what works to soothe your baby to sleep, check out these 10 tricks to getting your baby to sleep.
1. Prepare Your Baby’s Room
The lighting and sound in your baby’s room should be just right to reduce the stimulation and help your baby relax. Dim the lights so that you can just see well enough to walk around. Use a white noise machine or a mobile device (set to airplane mode) to play white noise, ocean sounds or rainstorm sounds. White noise is similar to what your baby heard throughout his time in the womb, and it can also help drown out other sounds, whether from the rest of the house or from outside.
2. Swaddle Your Baby
A swaddling blanket, also called a receiving blanket, is much larger than your baby, but when you fold a swaddling blanket around him correctly, you’re able to hold him in a way that mimics how he felt held in the womb. Your baby’s pediatrician can show you how to swaddle him, or you can use a wearable blanket type of swaddling product, which can often get the job done easier.
3. Get Moving
Your baby is accustomed to plenty of moving around while in the womb. While there wasn’t much space to move in there, mom was always shifting, walking and moving around in some way. Even breathing moves the baby slightly in the womb. That’s why rocking, swinging, swaying, bouncing and other forms of movement help soothe an unsettled newborn. You could push your baby in his stroller, but what they like most is being held or being worn in a baby carrier so that they’re against someone’s chest and able to feel their heartbeat.
4. Sing or Hum a Lullaby
The lullaby is the age-old, tried and true method of them all. It works best when you’re holding your baby against your chest, with his head on your chest or higher, just below your vocal cords. Singing or humming softly can soothe your baby and comfort him, and the gentle vibration can help lull him to sleep.
5. Diffuse Essential Oils
Certain essential oils have special medicinal properties that promote falling asleep and staying asleep longer. They work by regulating hormone release in a way that balances the brain’s sleep-wake cycle. Some essential oils are safe for newborn babies when you diffuse them no more than 30 minutes at a given time. Safe essential oils that can help newborns sleep include:
- Chamomile essential oil (German or Roman chamomile)
- Sweet orange essential oil
- Dill essential oil
Simply set up a small diffuser in your baby’s nursery and use a few drops of one or more oils when you’re getting ready to put her down to sleep.
6. Use a Pacifier
Babies have a natural sucking instinct starting at birth, and having something gentle and safe to suck on can help a baby soothe himself to sleep. Use a non-toxic pacifier made with food-grade silicone or 100% natural rubber and give it to him when you start the transition to putting him down.
7. Follow His Cues
Often, the reason babies get fussy and difficult to put down to sleep is that they’re overstimulated and possibly overtired. When your baby starts to have that blank stare or glazed look and disengage, it could be an early sign it’s time to start putting him down. If you wait until he’s crying, it’s too late, because he’s probably already overtired. Try to pinpoint your baby’s cues and signs he gives you when he’s getting tired. Picking up on these and getting him down at the right times according to his readiness can help him establish a more consistent schedule.
8. Stick to the Same Going-to-Sleep Ritual Every Time
Once you find what works, repeat the same series of steps every time you put your baby down. You might feed her a bottle and burp her, then sing a song, rock her or walk her around, and then put her down in her crib once she’s fallen to sleep. Whatever you do, do the same thing in the same order every time. This conditions your baby’s body to start getting sleepy as soon as the routine starts to happen.
Getting Your Baby Down to Sleep: Easier Every Time
It takes time to learn what works for your baby, so inevitably, it does get easier with time. The key is to take it easy on yourself, relax and observe your baby rather than letting the frustration of it get to you. Take a deep breath, have a break if you need one, and remember that it gets better the more you fine-tune your routine and learn your baby’s cues.
Our Top Baby Sleep Products
Getting baby to sleep isn’t always easy. Here are a few of our tried and tested products to help make bedtime smoother for everyone.
The Halo SleepSack wearable blanket replaces loose blankets in the crib that can cover your baby’s face and interfere with breathing. It also helps babies sleep better, too. It’s a warm cuddly blanket they can’t kick off; ensuring baby sleeps soundly throughout the night.
The revolutionary Baby Shusher can help soothe your fussy baby by engaging their natural calming reflex. Utilizing an ancient but doctor tested technique, it makes a rhythmic shushing sound that mimics in utero noises and soothes your little one.
The Hart + Land Organic Cotton Swaddle with Galaxy Stars print is a must have item for any parent. Incredibly versatile, it can be used for swaddling, nursing, tummy time, shading, and snuggling.
Solly Baby wraps work to help calm even the fussiest babies by providing a safe, comfortable and secure womb-like environment for the baby.
Solly Baby New Standard Wrap Carrier – Orion
Hevea’s Star & Moon Orthodontic Pacifier is made of 100% natural rubber latex and designed with an anatomical teat and ergonomic butterfly shape that leaves plenty of room for baby’s nose and mouth.
Available for 0-3 months + 3-36 months
Made from 100% silicone, every time this pacifier falls, the nipple pops back into its built-in protective silicone bubble.
More colors available
- The HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper is loved by new moms the world over, especially those recovering from c-sections. We take a look at why these ergonomically designed bassinets are a must for new moms.
- Preparing for a natural birth? Renowned birthing coach, author, and founder of The Gentle Birth Method, Dr Gowri Motha, shares the amazingly simple and intelligent way of pre-stretching your vagina.