Setting Your Baby Up For Sleep Success

by Jessica Begley, MPH
There’s no way around it. Being the parent of a baby means sleep deprivation. There are things you can do to help your baby sleep better.  Here are some tried and true methods to set your baby up for sleep success.

The Right Sleep Space
The right sleep space promotes and protects sleep:

Use a consistent sleeping space. Using the same space for all sleep help your baby’s brain and body recognize that sleep is coming. While naps on the go may work well for a younger baby, they become harder as your baby grows older and is more social.

Think cool, dark, and quiet. There is a reason why bears hibernate in a cave! Replicate that effect with black out shades on the windows, a white noise machine, and a temperature of between 60 and 68 degrees.

Keep it safe. Always follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for safe sleep.
The Right Schedule
The right sleep schedule aligns with your baby’s natural sleep needs, allowing sleep to come easily:

Before 4 months old, focus on time awake. Instead of trying to force a napping schedule, focus on making sure your baby is not awake for more than 2 hours at a time.

After 4 months, create an age appropriate schedule. While every baby is different, here are napping patterns most babies fall into:
•     Around 4-8 months: A morning nap, a mid-day nap, and a later afternoon catnap
•     Around 9-15 months: A mid-morning nap and an early afternoon nap
•     Around 15 months-3 years: A mid-day or early afternoon nap
The Right Routine
Create a consistent pattern that prepares your baby physically and emotionally for bed:

Use the 5 B’s: Bath, Breast/Bottle, Brush or gums, Books, Bed.

Use a verbal bedtime cue. Saying the same thing before you leave the room each night, lets your baby know the day is over and sleep is expected.

Put your baby down ready, but awake. A bedtime routine should prepare, not put, your baby to sleep. Babies who go down awake at bedtime are less likely to need help getting back to sleep in the night.



With the right sleep space, schedule, and bedtime routine you can help prevent and address many sleep problems but if you find yourself stuck in a sleep pattern that is leaving you and your baby exhausted, reach out for help from your baby’s doctor or a certified sleep consultant at FamilySleepInstitute.org.



Jessica Begley, MPH is a certified sleep consultant, lactation counselor, and founder of The Baby Sleep Geek. She’s passionate about building parents’ confidence in their ability to meet their child’s sleep needs. You can learn more about Jessica at TheBabySleepGeek.com.