Getting a newborn to sleep through the night can be a difficult task for some parents. Not every infant has the same temperament, especially when it comes to sleeping. A baby loves to be held, but that is not possible to do every time he needs to sleep because Mom and Dad need to sleep sometimes, too. The trick is to make your baby feel warm, safe and protected sleeping in a crib.
Establish a bedtime routine to help your baby relax. Bathing, diapering, nursing, cuddling, rocking and singing are some of the ways to tell your baby that it's time to go to sleep before you lay him in his crib. Eventually, your baby learns to associate these things with falling asleep. Going through the same motions every night can help your baby feel safe and secure so that he falls asleep faster.
Be consistent in your routine for putting your baby to bed at night. Lay your infant in the crib each time you put him down to teach him that this is where he is supposed to sleep. Do not let your baby fall asleep in your arms at bedtime.
Put your baby to bed at the same time every night. It's better if your baby is drowsy when you put him down rather than already asleep, because you want him to learn to fall asleep on his own. Putting babies to bed when they are still awake works better for younger ones than it does once they get older and realize what is going on.
Position your baby on her back to sleep, not her stomach. Premature infants in particular should be put to sleep on their backs. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents of infants to keep pillows, blankets and plush toys that could cause suffocation out of the babies' cribs. Use a crib that meets current safety standards and has a tight-fitting mattress.
Place your baby on warm sheets. Flannel works great in cold weather. You can also warm a crib sheet with a hot water bottle. Just make sure that the sheet is not too hot and that you take the water bottle out of the crib before laying your baby down. Maintaining a nursery temperature of 70 degrees and a humidity level of about 50 percent can promote better sleep.
Keep the lights low during nighttime feedings and diaper changes. Do this to reinforce the fact that nighttime is for sleeping.
Allow your child to cry for brief periods. Go into the room to reassure your baby by quietly talking to him and patting his back, but do not pick him up and hold him in your arms or rock him. Leave the room again after just a few minutes. If your child continues to cry, allow him to cry a few minutes longer before going back into the room to reassure him. It may be difficult for a few nights, but eventually your child should learn to fall asleep on his own.
Be patient with your baby if he has periods of sleeplessness. Hold your baby more during the daytime hours. Babies who are held more in a parent's or other caregiver's arms during the day and spend less time in their cribs often sleep better at night.