Newborn Sleep Tips: Settling Your Baby

When you have a newborn baby, sometimes it can feel like they do nothing but cry. It’s actually completely normal for a newborn baby to cry for at least two hours a day. This leaves parents and caretakers exhausted and searching for remedies.

Sleep is vital to your baby’s health and development. Not only does it help them recover physically but it also helps their brains process all the new information they’ve taken in. It can be difficult, and frustrating, trying to get your baby to sleep, especially when you know how tired they are. So what are some of the tricks of the trade and could any of them work for you?

Recognising When They’re Tired

A baby won’t tell you when they’re tired, and if they’re old enough to communicate they’d probably deny it anyway. There are however some simple signs to look out for. Yawning and rubbing their eyes is a common sign of tiredness in newborns (as well young children). Ear pulling, jerky movements, clenching fists, fretting, grimacing and increased physical activity can also indicate that your newborn needs a nap.

Helping Them Feel Secure

A baby who feels safe and comfortable is more likely to relax and drop off. You can increase this feeling of security by swaddling them or tucking them into their favorite blanket. Just be careful not to make them too hot as young babies are poor at regulating their body temperature.


Babies with full stomachs often feel sleepy and hunger can be a strong prompt to wake up. This is the reason why newborns wake so often at night. Their stomachs can only hold a tiny amount of food so hunger pains strike at least every three or four hours.

With older children, make sure the food you give them close to sleep periods is not something that’s going to keep them awake. It’s true what they say about sugar boosting your energy as anyone with a toddler who’s had cake before bedtime can attest to.

Physical Intervention

Sometimes cuddling can help a newborn fall asleep as can stroking their back, head or limbs gently. This is why a gentle massage before bedtime can be effective at relaxing a child enough to allow them to get settled in. You can also try to use the tips of your fingers to gently stroke from the top of your baby’s forehead to the tip of the nose to help them relax.


Having a routine helps give your child a clear signal that it’s time to sleep. The routine can include anything you want: bathtime, storytime, hugs and cuddles. As long as it’s nothing exciting and doesn’t involve any activity that will give them mental or physical stimulation. 

Recent studies indicate that it’s also a good idea to avoid anything with a screen before bedtime. Screen time can prevent proper sleep patterns in children (as well as adults!).


There are some very simple things you can do to make sure the environment is conducive to sleep. First and foremost, make sure that the room is dark and set to a comfortable temperature. You also want to make sure that additional stimuli like TVs are not present.

Soft music, lullabies or white noise can help foster an atmosphere of peace and quiet. Some parents find it helpful to have talk radio on quietly in the background. Motion is also a common tactic for relaxing a newborn baby. You can try rocking them in your arms, sitting in a rocking chair or taking them for a car ride.


It’s just a fact of life, babies and young children will wake up in the middle of the night. It’s worth getting them into the habit of settling themselves back to sleep if you can. Don’t be quick to rush to a crying child, that will introduce a feeling of tension or reward attention seeking in them.

At the same time though, don’t leave them crying for long enough to get distressed. That will take them even further from a state where they’ll be able to fall back asleep on their own. Encouraging the habit of self-settling is something that will be positive for everyone in the long run.

Habits to Avoid

There are certain habits you want to avoid or you may find yourself tied to them for the foreseeable future. Don’t enforce a rule of absolute silence at night; otherwise, your baby will easily awaken at the slightest noise. This is where a white noise machine might come in handy.

It’s also a bad idea to cuddle your child to sleep every night. This will condition them into needing your presence every time they go to sleep. One peculiar trait of newborns is that they will often fall asleep in the middle of a noisy party. This is a natural reaction to being overstimulated – they are trying to escape the bombardment of information.

Every baby is different and you’re guaranteed to have at least some sleepless nights. With a little planning and by finding the right technique that works for your baby, you can improve your chances of a decent night’s sleep. Most importantly, create a consistent sleep time routine with you baby and stick with it!

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