The Best Baby Sleep Tips Ever

Getting your newborn to sleep can be a challenge, but these expert-approved tips and tricks will help you put your little one to bed—and take back your nights.

Baby sleeping
Photo: Getty

While having a baby can be exciting in many ways, it's also riddled with challenges. Raising tiny humans is hard. And it's particularly tough in the early days when you're exhausted and sleep-deprived. But don't worry: This sleepless phase won't last. This too shall pass, and with our expert-approved baby sleep tips, you may even manage to catch some Z's.

How to Get a Newborn to Sleep

Here's everything you need to know to improve your baby's bedtime routine and get your newborn to sleep.

  • Avoid overtiredness
  • Create a soothing sleep environment
  • Swaddle them
  • Keep the bedroom cool
  • Keep nighttime diaper changes quick
  • Share the bedtime responsibility with your partner
  • Use a pacifier
  • Be flexible with naps
  • Stick to a bedtime routine
  • Be patient and consistent

Read on to learn how to put these newborn sleep tips into action.

Spring Into Action at the First Sign of Sleepiness

"Timing is critical. Tuning into your baby's natural biological rhythms—by reading their drowsy signs—ensures that when they're placed in their crib, melatonin (the powerful sleep hormone) is elevated in their system, and their brain and body will be primed to drift off with little fuss. If you wait too long, however, your infant can become overtired. Not only will they have lower melatonin levels, but their brain begins to release wakefulness hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This makes it difficult for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep and can lead to early wake-ups. So don't miss these cues: When your little one is still, quiet, disinterested in their surroundings, and staring off into space, melatonin is peaking in their system and it's time to go to bed." – Jenni June, a sleep consultant in Los Angeles

Create an Optimal Sleep Environment

"Blackout shades and a white-noise machine transform a nursery into a womb-like environment—and muffle the noise and light from outside. Half of a baby's sleep is REM, or rapid eye movement. This is the light-sleep stage in which dreams occur, so it can seem as if almost anything will wake him: Your phone rings in the living room, you laugh too loudly at your Netflix show, you pull a tissue out of the box. But that is less likely to happen with a white-noise machine running because the background noise covers it all. Not sure how loud it needs to be? Test the volume by having one person stand outside the doors and talk. The white machine should muffle the voice but not drown it own completely." – Brooke Nalle, a sleep consultant and founder of Sleepy on Hudson in Dobbs Ferry, New York

Try Swaddling

"It's the first piece of advice I give to new parents, and they often say, 'I tried swaddling, and my baby hated it.' But sleep changes so rapidly in those early weeks and that what she hates at four days might work at four weeks. And you'll get better with practice too. It's common to swaddle to loosely the first few times or feel flustered if your baby is wailing. Believe me, it's worth another shot, as long as she is still too young to roll over. Try different styles of swaddles, like the Miracle Blanket, which wraps snugly around, or the Swaddle Up, which lets your baby keep her hands up by her face–and maybe make it a little tighter to leave one of her arms out." – Linda Szmulewitz, a licensed social worker and founder of The Chicago New Moms Group and Sleep Tight Consultants

Lower the Thermostat

"We all sleep best in a cool room, including babies. Aim to keep your thermostat between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit to give your baby the most comfortable sleep. Worried they will be too cool? Reassure yourself by putting your hand on their chest. If it's warm, baby's warm enough." – Nalle

Be Prepared for Quick Changes

"Hunting for a fresh crib sheet after your baby soaks his diaper or spits up is miserable in the middle of the night, and turning on the lights can wake them up more fully, meaning getting him back to sleep can take an eternity. Instead, double layer ahead of time: Use a regular crib sheet, then a disposable waterproof pad, then another sheet on top. That way, you can just peel away the top layer and pad, throw the sheet in the hamper, and toss the waterproof pad. Also be sure to keep a one-piece, a swaddle, or a sleep sack nearby—whatever it is your baby needs to continue the night comfortably—so you're not hunting through drawers every time your baby's diaper leaks." – Aimi Palmer, a sleep consultant and cofounder of AB Child Solutions, in London

Take Turns

"If you have a partner, there's no reason both of you need to be awake every time the baby is. Maybe you go to bed at 10 p.m. and sleep until 2 a.m., and your partner sleeps the early-morning shift. Even if you wake to nurse, let your partner handle the diaper change before and soothe the baby after. This way you'll both get four or five hours of uninterrupted sleep–which makes all the difference." – Nalle

Consider This Pacifier Trick

"If your baby cries because they're hungry or wet, that's understandable, but waking up in the middle of the night because they can't find their pacifier is frustrating for all. You can teach your baby to find it on their own by placing a couple of pacifiers in one corner of the crib, and every time they lose one help them reach for it themself by bringing to hand to that corner. This shows baby where the pacifiers are, so if one goes missing, they can find another and get back to sleep. Depending on your child's age, your little one should figure this out in about a week." – Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., a Parents advisor, associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and author of Sleeping Through the Night

Don't Stress About Naps

"Yes, consistency is key, and the safest place for your baby to sleep is on her back in a crib. But many babies under 6 months don't nap best there, so don't beat yourself up if she falls asleep on your chest or in a carrier or a car seat (as long as you are alert and watching her), or if you wind up pushing a stroller around the block for 40 minutes so she'll get some shut-eye. You're not wrecking night sleep by letting naps be a little more haphazard in the first six months. Most babies don't start developing a real nap schedule until 5 or 6 months, and even then, some nappers will put up a fight and others will be way more flexible about napping on the go." – Szmulewitz

Develop a Bedtime Routine—and Stick to It

"A consistent bedtime routine can work wonders. The order is up to you, but it usually involves a soothing bath, a story, and one last feeding. I also like to add a quick massage with lotion, gently squeezing and releasing the baby's knees, wrist, elbows, and shoulders, wherever there's a joint. Then you might do a final 'closing up' of the nursery: Now we turn out the light, now we start the white-noise machine, now we sway beside the crib, now I lay you down—and that's the signal that it's time to sleep." – Nalle

Remain Calm and Patient But Be Persistent

"If you listen to your best friend, a cousin, or a neighbor talk about how their baby was sleeping through the night at two months, you'll just get stressed. Tune out the unhelpful comparisons as much as you can. To solve your own baby's sleep issues, you'll need a bit of observation, a bit of trial and error, and a lot of flexibility. It's so easy to feel as if sleep will never get better, but it does constantly change. Just because you have a terrible sleeper at two months does not mean you're fated to have a terrible sleeper at two years. Patience and persistence is key." – Palmer

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