How to Get Your Baby to Sleep? Top Expert Has Answers!
posted by: Amber Johnson
If there’s anyone who knows how to get a baby to sleep, it’s Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s leading pediatricians and child development experts. His celebrated books/videos, The Happiest Baby on the Block, The Happiest Toddler on the Block and The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep have been translated into over 20 languages and have benefited millions of parents.
Dr. Karp’s insights into child development (e.g. the Calming Reflex, the 5 S’s and Toddler-ese) have made him one of the world’s leading baby and sleep experts. We were honored to ask him some of our burning questions about how to get your baby to sleep better.
How do I get my baby to stop waking so early?
When babies sleep, they still feel, hear and see. The rising sunlight filters through their closed eyes, soft spot and thin skull, turning off their melatonin and turning on their circadian rhythm alarm clock. You may be able to coax your little go-getter to sleep longer by using blackout curtains to shut out the sun’s first rays. Also, white noise helps drown out the chipper sounds of morning—birds squawking, dogs yapping and cars zipping down your street!
How does the SNOO help with sleep?
Parents struggle too much in their everyday lives, particularly due to lack of sleep…and the baby bed hasn’t evolved to help them! SNOO improves sleep by giving babies the rhythmic sound and motion they loved in the womb, all night long. And it responds to crying with louder shushing and bouncier jiggles – just like an experienced grandma or night nurse would to calm and lull them to sleep. As a result, babies sleep better…and so do parents.
Plus, SNOO gives parents peace of mind to help them sleep easier. Its unique swaddle clips in to the bed to prevent rolling to the risky position of the stomach. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep only on the back for the first 6 mos.). No other sleeper does this, and we’re very proud of this baby safety innovation!
At what age will my newborn begin to sleep soundly through the night?
You can improve your baby sleeping in just a few days and get your baby sleeping through the night in a couple of months – that is, if you use the right sleep cues: snug swaddling, rumbly whooshing and swaying jiggles. You can provide all of these for your baby the old-fashioned way, or get a helping hand from SNOO. Most parents who use SNOO report that they haven’t had to cry it out sleep train because their babies have learned to self-soothe in SNOO.
What methods do you recommend using to sleep train?
Ignoring your baby’s nighttime cries never feels right. That’s why I’m in favor of establishing healthy sleep habits early as a potential way to avoid sleep training. But if your baby is over 3-4 months of age (when these sleep cues work the best), sleep training may be right for your family. I prefer the following 2 variations:
- Longer-and-Longer, or Ferberization. The goal is to teach your baby that you love her and care about her feelings, but that you’ve made a clear decision that she needs to learn to fall asleep on her own.
You’ll put your baby in bed, turn on the white noise, give a kiss and leave the room. Then if she persists in crying, you check on her, in increasing intervals (after 3 minutes, then 5, 10, 15, etc.) Each time say something loving before leaving.
2) Pick Up/Put Down. I suggest this to parents who never want to ignore their baby’s cries. It takes longer (30 to 90 minutes per night) and more days, but it’s effective and might hurt your heart less.
You’ll pick up your baby every time he cries, calm him and place him back down when the tears stop. Do as little rocking, patting, talking, or feeding as you can, to reduce his need for demanding sleep cues. You’ll repeat this cycle over and over, until your baby sleeps.
My family is taking a trip soon – how can I make sure that sleep doesn’t fall apart while we’re on vacation?
Babies like their routines! When you’re on vacation, differences that seem minor to you—a bigger crib, different lighting, new smells—may be huge for your little one. So try to make his confusing surroundings as familiar as possible (without packing an extra suitcase!) Use the same loveys, night light, sheets and—most important—the same rumbly white noise as you use at home.