Newborns aren’t known for sleeping soundly through the night. And once you do get your child to bed, helping them stay asleep poses its own challenges. We’re here to help you get your baby to sleep with minimal stress or wasted effort. By creating the right sleep environment and routine, along with getting the essential sleep gear, your child will be able to sleep more independently and soundly each night.
During a baby’s first three to six months of life, they will do a lot of sleeping. They’ll also be quite alert during the day and can take time to get settled into their sleep routine. According to the National Sleep Foundation, newborns are recommended to get between 14 and 17 hours of sleep every 24 hours. In infancy—from three months to one year of age—that number drops to 12 to 15 hours.
Of course, not all of this sleep will be at once or during the night, but will be segmented into two or three naps during the day, followed by a longer period of on-and-off sleep through the night. For this reason, the recommended hours of sleep aren’t hard rules for newborns, as sleep patterns can fluctuate. What’s important is that you create an environment conducive to safe and comfortable sleeping for your little one, using the right gear when necessary.
Below are seven tips for how to get a newborn to sleep each night. We recognize that every parenting and care situation will be a little different, so apply these tips as applicable and with your pediatrician’s recommendation — always keep safety in mind and see what works and what doesn’t with your newborn. And while we’ve focused primarily on newborn sleep tips, many of these will also be relevant for quarrelsome, sleep-struggling babies from birth until toddlerhood.
1. Set Up a Designated Sleep Area
The first step for how to put a baby to sleep is setting up a nursery or sleep area. Having your child go to bed in the same place each night helps send signals to them that it’s time for sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should room-share (but not bed-share) with their babies for the first six months to one year of their life. The risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is high during this time, making close proximity to your infant especially important to mitigate risks. The AAP has many resources available on safe sleep for infants and the long-term impacts of room-sharing for parents looking to learn more.
So, set up your bassinet or crib in the same room you or baby’s caretaker sleeps in. Once your child is old enough, you can move them to their own nursery room if desired and space allows. The important thing is to create a designated space for your child to sleep that will be familiar and fits in with your nightly routine. That means dimming the lights, minimizing noise, regulating the temperature, and having the right gear like a bassinet or crib.
2. Swaddling Helps
Swaddling helps soothe newborns to sleep, as being wrapped up tightly can minimize the startle reflex (also known as the Moro reflex) besides providing a sense of physical reassurance akin to the womb. In most cases, the recommended safe window for swaddling is from birth until two months, or when your baby shows signs of being able to roll over or break loose from the swaddle.
Once your newborn starts to outgrow swaddling with both arms snug, transition by leaving one or both arms out for a few days, eventually moving to a regular onesie, two-piece pajamas, or a sleeveless sleep sack.
3. Minimize Light
Light disrupts a newborn’s sleep cycle. Use blackout curtains, dimmers, and ambient lighting in the room to create a more restful atmosphere. Blocking out the sun is especially important during naps and the early morning hours when the light could wake up your little one. You can use blackout curtains throughout your baby’s development as they get older.
4. Look for Baby’s Sleepiness Cues
Wondering how to get a newborn to sleep? There are a few telltale signs of a sleepy baby ready for bed. Until your child is around four months old, they won’t have a particularly set sleep pattern that’s easy to predict. Knowing baby’s sleepiness cues is key to preventing over-tiredness and irritability, which both make it harder for infants and newborns to fall asleep at night or for a nap.
Common signs that your baby is ready to sleep include:
- Rubbing or pulling at their ears, eyes, or head
- Crying, fussiness, frowning, and abrupt movements of their limbs
- Fluttering eyelids and a distant look in their eyes, where they don’t hold your gaze as long and stare absently into space
- Closing their fists
As your newborn grows, look for their particular ticks in order to predict their physical and emotional cues more clearly.
5. Pay Attention to Sound
Is your newborn particularly restless when they sleep? Ambient sound from a white noise machine or other device helps soothe babies and regulates their sleep by blocking out unwanted sounds from the household and outside world.
When shopping, look for a white noise machine designed specifically for babies—preferably, one that’s easily portable. Keep in mind that white noise machines should be placed at least seven feet away from the bassinet or crib to prevent hearing damage to a newborn’s sensitive eardrums, according to a 2014 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Keep the volume on a low setting; for reference, the volume of nurseries in hospitals should stay under 50 decibels, which is approximately the volume of a quiet conversation.
White noise machines won’t always work with every child, so if your little one isn’t responding positively try cutting out the sound in favor of silence or another setting on the machine. Most white noise machines for babies will feature a number of different sounds, from tones to nature recordings or soft lullabies.
If your difficulty lies more in getting your child to fall asleep versus staying asleep, practice soothing, proactive techniques before bed like swaddling, rocking, singing a lullaby, light feeding, and changing baby’s diaper. (On that note, be strategic with diaper changes and avoid waking the baby unless they’ve had a bowel movement or are stirring significantly.)
Lastly, try to minimize abrupt noises—like closing doors and heavy footsteps—when you’re putting your child to bed. This goes along with creating a harmonious sleep atmosphere with the right light levels, temperature, and sleep routine.
6. Regulate Temperature
Not too hot and not too cold, make sure the temperature stays regular wherever your child will be sleeping. A good rule of thumb is between 68 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep your child’s bassinet or crib away from the direct flow of air from vents as well as drafty windows giving direct sunlight, as these can cause discomfort that disrupts sleep cycles.
Likewise, dress your newborn accordingly for bed, whether that’s an afternoon nap or nighttime sleep. Don’t over-bundle in heavy clothes, relying instead on one or two layers depending on their temperature and the time of year. Look for signs of overheating, such as sweating and being hot to the touch. Likewise, if your child is cold, they’ll need more energy to stay warm and won’t sleep as soundly.
7. Develop a Routine
Consistency is key as you help your newborn get to sleep. A good routine sets a strong foundation as your child moves through different stages of growth and development. Prioritize calming activities, consistency, and simplicity when getting newborns to sleep. This means doing the same or similar things each evening before bed—swaddling, rocking, bathing in warm water, having storytime (the language relaxes, even if it’s not understood), singing a lullaby, and so on. Do what works best for you and your child that’s calming and quiet—knowing how to get a newborn to sleep starts with an easily repeatable routine at home or on the road.
In addition to having a solid bedtime routine with your child, it’s important to have the right gear. And once you have the right gear, it’s important to use it correctly. If you live in a large home or your child frequently goes between multiple locations, save time by purchasing an extra bassinet or playard so you don’t have to carry them back and forth.
Essential sleep gear for newborns includes things such as:
- A lightweight bassinet with a firm sleeping surface and plenty of ventilation. Bassinets are typically used until the baby begins to push up on their hands and knees or weighs 20 pounds. Weight capacity varies depending on the bassinet brand, so always check and follow specific product guidelines. Our LullaGo bassinets are sturdy, soft, comfortable, and easy to set up in seconds—a cozy option for babies at home or on the go!
- A sturdy crib. When choosing a crib, make sure it has a firm mattress that fits snugly against the crib walls. Note that you should keep stuffed animals, toys, blankets, quilts, pillows, and any other accessories out of your child’s crib—these can cause suffocation or serious harm to a baby. Crib use is recommended for babies that are around three months old until around the 18- to 36-month mark, or whenever they’re tall enough (about three feet tall) to climb out.
- Portable and lightweight playards. At Chicco, our playards offer convenience and comfort for infants and toddlers during naptime, playtime, and everything in between. Our Lullaby playards are made with easy-to-wash, zip-off fabrics and feature a snap-on changer, toddler play area, and infant bassinet. Always use and set up playards according to the manufacturer’s instructions, referring to specific product guidelines as needed.
- A swaddling cloth for the first eight weeks, and then pajamas or a sleep sack for the months of infancy following.
- Blackout curtains for your room to keep out light.
- A white noise machine. Look for one that’s easily portable and is meant for use specifically with newborns.
- Room thermometers can help you gauge more accurately the temperature of your baby’s sleep space, though they’re not required.
This list isn’t comprehensive but is meant to offer a baseline of the essentials needed for helping get your baby to sleep. If you’ve yet to have your child and are preparing ahead of time, note that many of these items make perfect gifts to add to your baby registry!
We hope the tips and advice in this article will help you with getting your newborn to sleep! Whether you’re a new parent or are welcoming another little one into your growing family, it’s important to have the right baby gear for everything life throws at you.
Through our Sustainable Parenting Initiative here at Chicco, we’re committed to leaving a positive impact on parents and the environment by developing products with a smaller carbon footprint while ensuring safety, durability, and ease of use. This means designing innovative textiles that eliminate the need for chemical treatments, easy-to-clean fabrics that wick moisture and manage humidity levels, and so much more.
Explore our full lineup of eco-conscious baby gear, including GREENGUARD Gold Certified products that meet rigorous third-party standards for low chemical emissions and help create healthier air quality for your child.