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5 Tips to “Sleep Train” Your Newborn

Vanessa Frankard
Vanessa Frankard

Did you know “Sleeping through the night” doesn’t actually mean your baby sleeps from bedtime to morning without waking up? Most experts define “sleeping through the night” as sleeping for a minimum of 6 hours without waking for a feed, diaper change, or to be soothed, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the entire night.

So, how to sleep train a baby? Starting from approximately three months onwards, there are ways to gently guide our babies towards a longer, more peaceful sleep, promoting better rest for everyone in the family.

None of the below suggestions involve letting our babies cry it out for prolonged periods of time. Babies cry when they need something and it’s our job as parents to respond to their cues, even if we are “sleep training.”

Develop a consistent routine

Develop a consistent bedtime routine that helps signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep. This routine might include calming steps like a warm bath, reading a book, some gentle rocking or a comforting massage, before putting your baby down to sleep. Make sure they are well-fed before bedtime, to decrease their chance of waking up due to hunger.

The routine we began with our first baby has continued well into his toddlerhood and every night now, our 3-year-old looks forward to his bath followed by stories.

Set up a dark sleep environment

Ensure a dark, quiet, and cool room for optimal sleep conditions. Darkness helps kickstart the production of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone that helps with controlling sleep cycles. If your baby’s bedroom has natural light, it could be worthwhile to invest in blackout blinds to use during sleep (especially for those long, bright summer days).

Monitor awake times

In addition to monitoring how long your baby sleeps for, you can also pay attention to your baby’s awake times during the day. The optimal ‘wake window’ of your baby changes with age, and you can use their awake times to help better gauge when to put them down to sleep. For example a one month old’s wake window is typically an hour, while a 7-month-old can stay awake for up to three.

These are only guidelines, of course. It’s a fine line between being under-tired and over-tired – both of which can make putting your baby down to sleep more challenging. If you are able to ‘catch’ that small window of time in between, you’ll have a better chance of successfully putting your baby down to sleep.

Dress properly for sleep

When dressing your baby for bedtime, you can buy sleepwear with “TOG” (Thermal Overall Grade) ratings, which is an industry-recognized measurement for the warmth of garments. The higher the TOG rating, the warmer the fabric. Taking into account seasonal fluctuations, you can pick the appropriate TOG rating to complement the temperature of your baby’s room.

Popular brands including Halo, Nest Designs, Aden + Anis, and Love to Dream all have sleepwear marked with TOG ratings, which can help you dress your baby properly for sleep and provide a comfortable sleep environment.

Use White Noise

The environment of a mother’s womb is far from quiet; babies are used to the comforting sounds of their mother’s bodily functions, so a completely silent environment for sleep is actually bizarre and unfamiliar to them. White noise can help mimic the sounds heard by your baby when they were still in the womb, and lull them to sleep. White noise can also help mask environmental noises (i.e. dog barking, cars on the street, an older sibling, etc.) from disrupting your baby’s sleep.

You can buy a white noise machine for your baby or find free playlists on Youtube.

Sleep is just one of many topics that new parents spend a lot of time figuring out. For other topics, check out our article on Essential Tips for Expecting Parents.

Vanessa Frankard
Written by Vanessa Frankard

Since 2008, Vanessa has kept her readers and followers ‘in the know’ on local happenings, facilitating for the discovery and support of brands, businesses, and experiences available in Vancouver and beyond. Now as a new mom, she shares her journey of motherhood, inspiring modern women and their families to think... "Hey if she can do it, I can too!