8 Tips on how to help your baby get enough sleep

Hanna Pauser
Written by
Dad holding baby forehead to forehead in backlight

Babies who are growing and developing need to get enough sleep. It's important both for their physical health and their cognitive development and mood.

Here are some simple but effective tips for establishing healthy sleep routines for your baby.

1. Consistent times

Keeping regular times for sleep can help your baby establish an internal rhythm for sleep. A well-trained circadian rhythm can make the process of falling asleep easier and improve sleep quality.¹ It can also give you a better understanding of your child's sleep patterns and needs, such as preventing overtiredness.²

In Napper, you can log your baby's sleep and receive a customized sleep schedule based on your baby's unique pattern aswell as statistics from millions of logged sleep moments from babies of the same age. Napper can be used from as early as 2 months of age but works best from 4 months of age.

2. Notice early signs of tiredness

To start establishing regular sleep times, it can be a good idea to be observant of signs of tiredness, also called sleep cues, in your baby and be ready to put them down for a nap or for the night. Signs that your baby is tired can include rubbing their eyes, yawning, looking away, or being fussy.⁴ Try to recognize your baby's signs and note what your baby's natural rhythm seems to be.

3. Avoid overtiredness

Overtiredness can happen if the baby is awake longer than they are physically meant to.² It can worsen sleep quality and lead to unnecessary night wakings or short nights. Overtiredness can be easy to miss since it can sometimes manifest as hyperactivity and difficulty calming down.²

To avoid overtiredness, pay careful attention to your baby's wake windows and if the baby shows signs of tiredness. Offer a chance to wind down and sleep when it's time. To make this work, you often need to plan so that you're not in the middle of an activity when it's time for a nap. If the baby has had a lot of stimulation or been more active than usual, they may need a longer winding-down than usual¹.

4. Create a bedtime routine

Studies have shown that Introducing a bedtime routine can have an effect of reducing the number of night wakings and improve babies mood the following day.⁵

A bedtime routine is a set of activities that parents and children do together in the same way at the same time each evening before going to bed. It can be, for example, bathing, brushing teeth, reading a book, or singing a soothing song. A bedtime routine can signal to the child that it's time to sleep and help the child wind down and become mentally prepared for sleep¹.

5. Avoid exposure to blue light in the evening and at night

Our sleep is regulated by certain hormones linked to our routines and the time of day. The time of day is signaled our brains through light via the eyes.

However, this mechanism has evolved over millions of years without artificial light. Exposure to blue light - light that the brain interprets as daylight - has been shown in studies to delay falling asleep.

Dim the lights at home before bedtime and use a night light with red or pink light both at bedtime and during night wakings. It can also be a good idea to use blackout curtains and blinds to prevent daylight from entering.¹

6. Practice falling back asleep with less assistance

Babies often need help falling asleep from a parent - and that's perfectly normal. However, practicing falling asleep with a little less help can sometimes make it easier for the baby to fall back asleep on their own. This can mean that the baby doesn't fully wake up during minor wakings, but can fall back asleep on their own, providing more total sleep.¹

7. Help your baby sleep longer in the morning

During the early morning hours, people are more easily awakened, and this applies to babies as well. Sometimes, the baby wakes up because they have completed their hours of sleep, meaning they may have slept too long during the day or gone to bed too early.

It could also be related to feeling uncomfortable for some reason, e.g., a full diaper. Therefore, it's good to keep track of the number of sleep hours and otherwise consider if something else is disturbing the baby's sleep.¹

8. Seek help for any sleep issues

Sometimes, the underlying cause of sleep problems in babies can be illness. If you suspect this, it's important to talk to a doctor who can help investigate the cause.⁴

1. Weissbluth, M. H. How Babies Sleep. New York: Ballantine Books; 2015.

2. What’s really going on when a child is overtired and how to help them go to sleep - Durham University 2022-12-07, Retrieved 2024-03-14, https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/current/thought-leadership/whats-really-going-on-when-a-child-is-overtired--and-how-to-help-them-go-to-sleep/

3. Effects of Sleep Deprivation - Sleep Foundation, 2023-07-17, Retrieved 2024-03-14 , https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/effects-of-sleep-deprivation

4. Infant Sleep - Stanford Children's Health, Retrieved February 19, 2024., https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=infant-sleep-90-P02237