How to Get Baby to Sleep Longer Stretches

by Indiana Lee
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There is plenty of advice out there about how to put babies to sleep, but what about how to get little ones to sleep longer?

Getting baby to go down when it’s time to sleep can still be a challenge for some, but others find it even more difficult to get their babies to sleep through the night. While it is natural for newborns to sleep in short segments, as your baby grows, so will the amount of time they sleep at night.

That said, there are some things you can do to encourage longer sleep periods and help them more easily transition into longer nighttime sleep. While you can’t force your baby to sleep longer, you can create a more relaxing sleep environment and help them develop better sleep habits so both you and baby can rest easier at night.

mom putting baby to sleep | Trendsetter Images from Getty Images via Canva.com
Photo credit: Trendsetter Images from Getty Images via Canva.com

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Understanding Infant Sleep Needs

Before we dive into the tips and tricks to get baby to sleep longer, it’s helpful to understand what your infant’s specific sleep needs are. Your baby’s sleep needs will vary depending on their age.

On average, most babies will not sleep through the night until they are about three to six months old. However, the exact age and timing can vary from one child to the next. Until they do start sleeping for longer nighttime periods, they will still need to take naps during the day.

Below is an average nighttime and daytime sleep schedule for newborns through two years of age:

Age

Nighttime Sleep Hours

Daytime Sleep Hours

Total Sleep Hours

Newborn

8 to 9

8

16

1 month

8 to 9

7

15.5

3 months

9 to 10

4 to 5

15

6 months

10

4

14

9 months

11

3

14

1 year

11

3

14

1.5 years

11

2.5

13.5

2 years

11

2

13

Again, while it is normal for babies to wake throughout the night, there are times when your baby might start waking up more than they should. This can start around six months of age when babies start experiencing separation anxiety. They might also start struggling to stay asleep due to overstimulation or because they are overtired.

If this is the case, or if your infant is simply struggling to get much nighttime sleep at all, then you might need to help them develop better sleep patterns or create a more calming and comfortable sleep environment that helps them feel safe.

Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Longer

Here are some simple tips and tricks you can use to encourage your baby to sleep longer at night:

1. Set Their Day-Night Sleep Schedule

One reason your baby might not be sleeping enough at night is because of daytime habits that are messing with their sleep schedule. If their daytime isn’t active enough, for example, they might not understand that daytime is for having fun and nights are for sleeping.

You can help get them back on a better day-night sleep schedule by keeping them busier and more active during the day and creating a wind-down, relaxing routine at night. For example, when it’s getting close to bedtime, you can keep the lights low, use a softer voice when talking to them, and overall try to reduce stimulation.

2. Create a Soothing Environment With the Right Lighting

Lighting can play a significant role in how well anyone sleeps at night, including babies. There is a science behind sleep and light, which has to do with our circadian rhythms. If there is too much light at night, it can disrupt those rhythms by sending signals to the brain that tell it it’s not time to sleep yet.

So if your little one isn’t sleeping long enough or sound enough, it might be a light issue. If you use a nightlight in your baby’s room, for example, it could be waking them up. A nightlight might help them feel safer initially, but try turning it off or setting it on a timer so it doesn’t stay on all night. It’s also better to use warmer nightlights as this type of light helps stimulate restfulness.

If baby goes down for bed while it’s still light outside, try using blackout curtains to keep the light from keeping them awake. This is especially helpful during the spring and summer months when it stays light outside longer.

3. Use a Sound Machine to Drown Out Noise

Depending on where you live or how much noise you are making in the house, external noises could be keeping your little one from falling and staying asleep after you put them down. If this is the case, you can try using a sound machine or white noise machine to soothe your baby and drown out other sounds that could be disturbing their sleep. Some babies also do better with a little white noise as opposed to total silence.

4. Try Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is a controversial topic for some, but it’s worth considering if you’ve tried everything else and nothing is working. Many parents choose the co-sleeping method for a number of reasons, one of which is to help reduce separation anxiety.

If your baby isn’t sleeping soundly through the night, it could be that they experience separation anxiety when they wake up and see that you aren’t there with them. If this is the case, co-sleeping could help.

This doesn’t mean you need to have them in bed with you. You could simply put them in the room with you in their own crib or in a bassinet.

pin on pinterest_how to get your baby to sleep longer stretches

5. Swaddle That Baby

Swaddling is a method that has been used for centuries to help babies sleep more soundly. Today, it is often recommended to help when babies experience a startle reflex, which is normal but can disrupt sleep.

If you think your baby keeps waking up at night because of this reflex, you can try swaddling them. You can do this the traditional way with a receiving blanket or muslin, or you can buy a modern swaddle, which is much easier to use as they have velcro and zippers.

6. Try an Advanced Sleep Aid Device

If you’ve got room in your budget, there are some neat high-tech sleep products on the market that can help you get baby to sleep longer. The SNOO, for example, is an automatic baby rocker. When baby wakes and starts crying, it will start to sway while playing white noise to soothe them back to sleep. There are also vibrating mattress pads, which can mimic the womb and help baby feel more relaxed so they sleep more soundly.

Moms Need Sleep Too!

While the focus of this article is helping your little one sleep better, it’s important that you get good sleep as well. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, it could be affecting your interactions with your baby, as sleep deprivation can impact your mental health.

If you aren’t getting enough sleep it can cause mood changes, increased aggression, emotional outbursts, brain fog, and even mild hallucinations — all of which can impact your ability to provide your baby with the attention and care they need.

So in addition to helping baby get better sleep at night, you, too, should try to create a more soothing and relaxing nighttime environment for your own sleep needs. You can also take advantage of your baby’s daytime sleep by napping when they do.

Wrapping Up

If after trying these tips you are still struggling to get your baby to sleep longer at night, it might be time to bring in a professional. There are plenty of doctors and specialists out there who specifically work with parents and babies to help them address sleep issues. If you simply need to catch more shut-eye yourself, it’s also okay to ask for help and have someone keep an eye on your little one while you sneak in some extra hours of sleep.

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