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How to Get Your Baby to Sleep: 12 Hacks for Tired Parents

Editor’s Note: This post is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or physician before treatment of any kind. Also, Babble participates in affiliate commission programs, including with Amazon, which means that we receive a share of revenue from purchases you make from the links on this page.

baby lying on a bed while sleeping
Image Source: Thinkstock

Back when my little guy was 6 months old, I would have gladly loaned him out overnight to anyone who wanted him, except … nobody in their right mind would have. At an age when most babies were sleeping through the night, ours was up every three hours. You better believe my husband and I looked like real-life versions of The Walking Dead.

Ben’s now 19 months old, and while I’ve mostly blocked out that time in my life, I’m not sure I ever fully recovered. So when my local Facebook mom group had a lively discussion about ways to get a baby to sleep, I was bummed I didn’t have this helpful advice when I needed it most.

In the name of saving other parents from unnecessary sleepless nights, I’m sharing the following tips to help you all sleep like a baby.

1. Use a swaddle on steroids.

Swaddles never worked for us. Too bad I didn’t know about extreme swaddle options like the Zen Swaddle, which has lightly weighted pads on the chest and sides to simulate pressure from a parent’s touch. “It has my 1-month-old sleeping through the night,” says Facebook group mom, Arianna.

Other moms worship at the altar of Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit, which one described as a “godsend.” Designed for babies three months and up who are transitioning out of swaddles, it’s a snuggly sleep sack, but unlike most, it has arms and legs. (Note: both of these are only meant to be used in cribs, not rockers.)

2. Don’t change that diaper.

“I took our pediatrician’s advice and actually didn’t change my baby every time she woke up, because otherwise she’d be fully awake and alert,” says Judy. “I used the most absorbent diapers we could find, only changed her when she pooped, and warmed wipes between my palms first so they wouldn’t be jarring.”

3. Play white noise.

“It’s a must and a great sleep crutch,” says Betsy. The drone of white noise can soothe a baby to sleep and help block out sounds from around the house. Parents praise the Dohm and the LectroFan.

Then, there’s this hack: “My husband was the master of the hair dryer for hysterically sobbing babies,” says Kelly. “The loud white noise stunned them into silence then lulled them back to sleep.” 

4. Try a snoozy tune.

One mom swears by a zen instrumental called “Weightless”. As she says, “When my son starts thrashing and this goes on, [with this song] he is asleep again in 60 seconds.”

Another mom found relief thanks to Alexa, everyone’s favorite auto voice service. “One of the best purchases we made was the Amazon Echo, which we could command to play a lullaby or classical music when our wee one was most unsettled,” says Genevieve. “Music was a pretty simple solution, but having something that could play most anything and adapt in the moment was key.”

And psst! A good Amazon Music station to stream for naps: Renee and Jeremy.

5. Keep your baby’s room really dark.

When you have to feed or change your baby in the middle of the night, you want to keep the lighting low to avoid overstimulation. Consider the Wink, a smart LED bulb you can control from your phone before you even enter the room. Other moms go all out with blackout curtains. “I also put a layer of brown paper on the windows in the spring and summer, when it stays lighter later,” says Betsy.

6. Three words: Rock ‘n Play

Parents unanimously consider the Rock ‘n Play sleeper a must-have. Rocking gently with an incline so your baby rests comfortably (especially helpful for tots with reflux), it offers calming vibrations. Also, it’s portable so baby can nap wherever you are.

7. Bounce around.

If you’re familiar with using an exercise ball, consider gently bouncing a fussy baby on one to transport him to dreamland. “When our little one got upset or woke up for no reason, we went to the ball,” says Dasi. “We took that thing everywhere with us — upstairs, downstairs, road trips!” (Note: be sure to follow safety precautions, including proper inflation.)

8. Create a paci heaven.

A binky falling out of a baby’s mouth in the middle of the night means he could wake himself up searching for it. Don’t risk it! Make it easy for him to get his hands on one by scattering a few around the crib.

9. Sacrifice some nap time.

“One thing I’m conscious of during the day is that we don’t try to be extra-quiet or careful not to wake up our daughter,” says Arianna. “I place her bouncer near a window, and I keep the light on in the room she’s in for napping. She differentiated between day and night very early on and slept well!”

10. Consider a magical doll.

“We have a Lulla doll — $69 for a cotton baby doll with a battery pack that plays a recording of an adult heartbeat and breath sounds, worth every cent,” says Laina. Since it’s not recommended to have loose items where a baby’s sleeping, the doll has straps for attaching to cribs and car seats.

11. Warm ‘em up.

Placing a baby on chilly crib sheets post-feeding isn’t very sleep-inducing. One mom’s solution: “I put a good old hot-water bottle in the bed when I extracted my kids for breastfeeding, so their sleeping spot was nice and toasty warm for them.” (Note: make sure the sheets are a good and safe temperature before placing your baby down.)

12. Put on a chill nightlight.

The Cloud B Twilight Turtle projects stars onto ceilings in different colors. “It’s distracting, but in a soothing way,” says Gaby. Meanwhile, fellow mom Sara went with a homemade version: “We filled a mason jar with red LED twinkly lights.”

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