How to Get a Newborn to Sleep

How to get a newborn to sleep is one of the most frequent questions I get asked during a newborn session.  Majority of the time my clients are new parents and lets be real, the world of being a new parent is hella scary.

Being a mom of two young children myself, I can relate.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t question everything I do as a mother and that’s completely normal.  As a mother our natural instinct to provide for our children.  Provide the best we can even when we are sacrificing parts of our self.

There is so much to think about between feedings, diapers, crying, bathing, and sleeping (or lack there of).  Having a new baby can bring out the insecurites of new parents, therefore I wanted to provide my top 10 tips on how to get a newborn to sleep for those new parents that just need some shut eye.

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How to Get a Newborn to Sleep | Top 10 Tips

1. How to Get a Newborn to Sleep | Understand Your Baby’s Sleep Needs

During the first couple of months a newborns need to eat surpasses a need for sleep.  Your baby will sleep 10-18 hours a day, sometimes for 3-4 hours at a time. A baby does not yet understand the difference between day and night so they dont yet have regard for what time it is.

2. How to get a Newborn to Sleep | Provide the Proper Equipment

The proper equipment is essential to a baby’s sleep.  There are many different options for sleeping and there are varying opinions on what is best.  There are cribs, bassinets, co-sleeping and more.

I am a firm believer that starting a pattern of where to sleep should start from day one, therefore my children went right into their bedrooms into their cribs from day one because that worked for my husband and I, but you do you.  Doing this can prevent mishaps and re-adjustments in the sleep process later on.

3. How to Get a Newborn to Sleep | Set Up a Bed Time Routine

Setting up a bed time routine has a huge impact on how to get a newborn to sleep.

  • Try to play active/stimulating games or activities during the day therefore making it calming for bedtime.
  • Try to keep consistensy with the order and activites before a bedtime such as bath, reading a book, singing a song, placing in crib, saying I love you and goodnight then leave.
  • Try to make bed time pleasant that way your baby doesn’t have bad associations with bedtime.
  • Make the conditions in the room consistent, how they fall asleep is how they should wake up. For example curtain closed, door closed, dark room etc.
how to get a newborn to sleep
4. How to get a Newborn to Sleep | Swaddling

Swaddling mimics being inside mommy’s uterus and newborns love it.  It makes them feel secure, warm and is very comforting.

There are many different options for swaddles or fabrics for swaddling.  There is sleep sacs, muslim cloth, cotton swaddle blankets.  I loved sleep sacs for my children.  It gave them the security they needed while sleeping, kept them warm, a made my life easier from them busting out.

Getting accustomed to swaddling early one can save your sanity and get you and your baby more ZZZzzz’s.  The key to swaddling is having it tight enough that they feel secure and are not able to kick their way out but not tight enough to prevent breathing, or circulation.  As a rule of thumb if they are breaking free the swaddle is too loose. Practise makes perfect on this front.

5. How to Get a Newborn to Sleep | White Noise

White noise has saved me with both my children and during every newborn session.      White noise is a monotonous sounds that lull babies to sleep.  Whit noice can be in the form of white noice machines, a fan, music, and the list goes on.

White noise mimics the noise while in the mothers womb and has amazing benefits for lulling baby to sleep as well as helps baby soothe themselves back to sleep if they should wake up through the night.


6. How to Get a Newborn to Sleep | Full Tummy

Trying to feed a decent meal before bedtime can prolong the amount of time they will sleep through the night.  A full tummy helps to allow newborn the feel more satisfied at bedtime.

Try to not feed to much though as this can also create some spit up, and tummy upset. Try to remember baby tummy’s are about the sixe of there fist so it doesn’t take much to fill them up.

7. How to Get a Newborn to Sleep | Realistic Expectations

The best thing any parent with a newborn can do for how to get a newborn to sleep is to set reasonable expectations.

Having a baby is a learning curve.  Every baby is different.  You will need to learn your baby, their needs and how they prefer things to be.

For any parent to expect a baby to sleep through the night at the beginning isnt setting reasonable expectations.  There are going to be hiccups, there are going to be harder times don’t expect perfection from the beginning or you will set everyone up for failure.

With failure come frustration.  Go with the flow and realize this will pass and things will change and get better.


newborn sleeping
8. How to Get a Newborn to Sleep | Sleepwear

A newborn’s skin can be sensitive to the material their sleepwear is made of.  Try going with light cotton sleepwear.  What to wear can have varying factors.  Take into consideration the conditions of the room they are sleeping in.  It is warm, cool?  Kind of like outside prepare for the temperature of the room.  Also consider if they are being swaddled.  They may get warm if swaddled and one may want to consider a soft cotton short sleeve onsie.

9. How to Get a Newborn to Sleep | Safety

Safety is number one for me as a parent.  How to get a newborn to sleep has no bearing on anything if safety isn’t considered.

  • Newborns should be placed on their backs to prevent proper airflow as they don’t yet have the strength to properly lift their head.
  • No blanket should be used to prevent the baby’s head getting covered
  • No bumbers on the crib should be used in case they flip over and this can prevent airflow
  • Temperature of the room should be around 70 degrees F.  The temperature should be consistent and comfortable for your baby
  • Do not use wedges or positioners
10. How to Get a Newborn to Sleep | Reading Tiredness

Until some time passes with your newborn and you both become accustomed to one another learning your baby’s ques can be difficult and does take some time.  The ideal once those ques are understood is to get them ready and down for sleep before they become overtired.  Not only does this make it harder for them to fall asleep but it can be incredibly frustrating for parents.

Putting your baby down to sleep when they start to become drowsy is best as they learn very quickly how to be dependent and self soothe themselves to sleep.  The last thing I wanted was my children depending on me to get them to sleep every single nap and bedtime. While some don’t agree with this opinion, I feel it was easier to nip this in the bud before a behaviour started that may be harder to get rid of later on.

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As you may see there are many factors to consider with how to get a newborn to sleep.  Firstly, set some realistic expectations, secondly there will be bumps in the road and thirdly I promise one day you will miss those sleepless nights.  Sleeping babies take time, experience, patience and some understanding.  In conclusion I hope this list helps everyone reading it as I once struggled with getting my children to sleep as babies as well and although it was almost nine years ago with my first child I remember the sleepless nights and uncertainty I felt.

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