Tips for getting a baby to sleep

Now that my baby is five months old, I can easily say that I have attempted every single possible tip, trick and silly idea to get an overtired, fussy, difficult baby to sleep… that I know of.   Some days it felt like I spent more time trying to get my boy to sleep than he actually spent sleeping. 

Thanks to those hours and hours… and hours... of trying every possible method, it only takes me ten minutes tops to get my little guy to sleep.

Here is how….

First I start with me. I have to get myself relaxed and focused on the job.  I look at the clock and tell myself in 10 minutes from now I will have a sound sleeping baby, not a minute sooner. (As much as I wish it only took one minute to get my baby to sleep, that's just not logical, and believing so causes me to become frustrated quickly.) Then, I take a couple of deep breaths, relax and soften my body.  Nothing sabotages getting a baby to sleep like a frustrated, stiff, hurried mother.

Next, I decided which method I am going to START with.  If Oliver is not over tired I can usually get him down with one method, if he is exhausted it may take two different methods (i.e. bouncing on the bed, then soft rocking) either way, hands down,consistency is KEY!  You know in your mind it will take ten minutes, so don’t give up after 3 minutes if it he is still fussy, it is very possible the 4th minute will be the magical one!

Ok, now for the Top 5 methods I Love!

  1. Bouncing on the bed- Sit on the edge of the bed, hold your baby in the cradle position with his head in the crux of your arm. If you use a pacifier/dummy pop it in, and start bouncing! If you have a high bed, like me, wear wedges or heels so you don’t get a leg cramp from bouncing on tip toes.  This is my go to when Ollie is ultra fussy.  This method can get him to sleep in 2 minutes if he is tired or when he is ultra tired I will bounce for 8 minutes sometimes.  One thing is for sure, it ALWAYS works for me.

  1. Rocking- The Classic method. This one is great for a calm baby, and is super for bonding. The key with this is to keep your eye off the clock.  Get comfortable in your rocking chair, hold your baby close, bask in his smell and sweetness.  Soften your arms, relax your shoulders and rock away momma! Cherish these moments.  The feeling in your heart, the calmness in your mind, the love in your heart.  One day you will miss this.

  1. Push the Tush-This only works for me when Ollie is nearly asleep.  This is my finishing move if you will. Lay your baby on his side, or belly if you are brave, and push his little tush gently up and down while “SHHHHHHHHing” him.  This is also great for when your baby starts to stir in his sleep, quickly push and shh, and he will be right back to sleep in not time.

  1. The Two Step-This is a classic with a twist. To best describe it, it’s a marriage between the Rocking Method and Push the Tush. If you are doing this with a newborn and still swaddle, then start by swaddling your baby.  Then get your baby in the cradle position in your arms, pop in the pacifier and start bouncing a little and stepping side to side. Then start pushing the tush all while “SHHHHHHHHing” loudly.  This one is very dependent on rhythm and consistency.  I use it when I cannot bounce, or when I am trying to sooth Oliver when he wakes up in the middle of the night screaming. 

  1. The Co-Sleep-Climb into bed, lay down on your side holding your babe belly-to-belly, his head on your arm. I “shhhhh” softly and push his little tush. This one is my 5:30am, “Don’t even think about staying awake move!”  I also use it after nursing in the middle of the day to push Ollie into  naptime dreamland when nursing was not enough. 

Those are my ultimate top five.  The trick is to make each one your own. Just stay relaxed, focused on the prize and do your very best to not get stiff or frustrated, or at the very least, let your baby detect your angst. 

Happy Sleeping!

Oh, and as always, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share your tips for getting your bub to sleep.

Two confused parents=One amused baby Hopelessly we are trying raise a baby who is clearly smarter than both of us. April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com


foodpixie said...

Thank you for these. Babe has been a bit more fussy about sleep since teething and summer heat.

Cradle, Bounce, Swing:
When I worked in daycare my fool proof method was to stand while using the cradle hold with the baby's low arm tucked under, my other arm in between the legs and my hands locked behind baby's back. Put something good to feel for baby's free hand or your shirt will be death gripped when you go to lay down. Then begin bouncing with your legs, and swinging back and forth with your arms. Of course there is a dummy/pacifier involved. If you have to go a step furthur, pat the booty. It never failed. But I was/am a lot more patient listening to someone else's baby cry.

Katie said...

William is all about the Up and Down motion. The deeper the better! All my relatives would laugh when they saw us doing the squats, but honestly, it was the only thing that made him stop crying when he was colicky. Now it still works to get him to sleep or to calm him when he is screaming.

britmouth said...

Thanks for these tips!! Getting my 5 month old to sleep
Is probably the most challenging thing for us. It can still take 30+min to get him down. He hates being on his back/side in your arms and has to be held upright (he has been like that since day 1). Then walking around the house followed by a lot of "Indian dance" bouncing & "pushing the tush" seem to be the only things that have worked. If we sit down, he somehow knows it & fusses like crazy until we get back up-my back has never been so sore! I will definitely try some of your suggestions or a variation of them.

FirstTimeMomandDad.com said...

You are welcome. Oh my, I can only imagine how challenging it must be to get your little man down, when he only wants to be up! Do you ever use a Moby wrap or some other baby wearing contraption?

FirstTimeMomandDad.com said...

Squats... That's a great idea for tonig. I'm going to try that. Thanks!

FirstTimeMomandDad.com said...

Oh yes, the death grip. I've had that plenty of times. Thanks for the tip!

britmouth said...

I do have a Boba wrap, yes. But if I try to take him out of it, he thinks sleepy time is over and it is time to play....ok for naps, but not nighttime.

I tried your bed bouncing tip today & it helped a lot!!! Thank you!!

Btw -As bad as it sounds, when I find myself I need if more patience, I imagine/pretend my boy is someone else's baby. I know it is awful, but I would do anything for as long as needed to get someone else's baby to sleep, so imagining it like that helps keep me calm and patient. :)

FirstTimeMomandDad.com said...

I haven't mastered the art of getting Ollie out of the wrap without waking him up either.

Imagining Ollie is someone else's.... Makes perfect sense! Where was that idea at 2:30 this morning. Lol

In glad the bouncing helped. It's my go to these days.