I’ve been a baby whisperer for 14 years now. As a Langley newborn photographer, I joke that my job is like putting a baby in a crib without waking them up – and then picking them up, changing their clothes and doing it all over again while keeping them asleep and taking photos! It’s not easy, but there are certain tips that I am always happy to share with new parents.
Top Tips for Helping Your Newborn Go to Sleep
1) You can’t force a baby to sleep. They are little people with needs too!
Making sure their needs are met is the first step to sleepy-town.
- Has baby been fed enough (i.e. baby decided to end the feed)?
- Is it’s diaper clean and dry? Usually newborns need a change before and after a feeding.
- Are they comfortable? This could be clothing, position, temperature. Mom tip: check toes and fingers for hairs or fabric fibers that can get wrapped around them.
2) Have realistic expectations
Babies are born with their day-and-night flipped. They are used to mom’s movement (= sleep) throughout the day, and stillness (= baby awake!) during the night. Out of mom’s tummy, that pattern can persist for a while. The tiny size of their tummy also means that they will need to eat often and wake up often. As they grow, the time they can go between feedings will change.
3) Make their environment sleep-friendly.
It’s unrealistic to expect your newborn to sleep through the night, but you can help them learn about sleep habits while they are little.
- Keep things darker at night, brighter during the day.
- Resist the urge to interact too much at night, leave playtime for awake daytime periods.
- Try giving a warm bath in the evening.
- Introduce the beginning of a bedtime routine. Reading to baby, listening to soft, soothing music, all of these things can be done regularly or occasionally (realistic expectations!)
4) Be flexible and willing to try new things.
Some babies respond well to swaddling. Some babies love to be held and rocked. Some love having their noses or eyebrows stroked. Some babies want to be “worn” in a baby carrier or sling. Some babies like to be walked up and down stairs – don’t do that – site holding baby on a bouncy exercise ball instead! Some babies want to be placed in a crib and left alone. Be open to trying new things – and realize that you are not failing if something doesn’t work. As you get to know your baby, you will start to learn their preferences. Every baby is different, just like we as adults are different in what we like at bedtime!
5) Don’t keep your house TOO quiet.
It’s better for everyone that baby is able to sleep with some noise – otherwise it can be very difficult to be more social or travel when baby is older. You don’t need to blast loud music, but don’t tiptoe like a mouse. Newborns respond well to SHHHHHH noises – you can try an app, or even youtube videos!
I highly recommend the use of white noise or better, a sound conditioner. I have multiple of these and use them in the studio as well as at home and when I travel:
Read more tips from a valuable resource here: https://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems/31-ways-get-your-baby-sleep-and-stay-asleep/
Alexandra Hunt is a full-time newborn photographer near Vancouver, British Columbia. She is also the proud mother of 4 (including twins). Alexandra Hunt Photography specializes in creating beautiful newborn and maternity portraits for her clients and is always happy to share tips with new parents.