I’ve been a pediatrician for over 30 years. I have met a lot of babies and new parents. What is the most common question they ask me? How do I get my baby to sleep?
It’s exhausting enough taking care of a new baby all day. When your child also won’t sleep, that is exhausting and frustrating. How can you know what your baby wants or needs? And with all of the information out there on getting your child to sleep, and staying asleep, how do you know what to listen to?
Because I know this is such an important and highly debated parenting topic, I want to cut through the noise and get down to the truth about your baby and sleep. To help me do that, I spoke with world-renowned pediatrician Dr. Bill Sears on my Parenting Great Kids podcast.
Dr. Sears is the author of over 30 parenting books including The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family. I call him the “sleep guru” because he has been studying sleep and babies for decades and is known and respected in the medical field for his knowledge on the topic.
Even if you think you have the fussiest baby on earth and you are worried you will never sleep again, I believe there is hope for your child, and you, to get into a better sleeping pattern. Over the next several weeks, focus on these three things and see what happens:
Establish a good sleep environment.
It’s important for your baby to have a warm, comfortable and safe place to sleep. I recommend you have your baby sleep in the same place for naps as nighttime. This might not be an option for you if you aren’t home during the day, but as best you can, replicate naptime during the nighttime sleep—use the same blankets, make the sheets smell the same, or make sure your baby has the same stuffed animal with her for nighttime and daytime sleep.
It’s important for your baby to have a warm, comfortable and safe place to sleep.
When it comes to where your baby should sleep, Dr. Sears says it’s important to be flexible and pay attention to where everyone in the family gets the best night’s sleep: “That may change from month to month as baby sleep cycles change and their needs change,” says Dr. Sears.
In general, he agrees with The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that every baby should sleep in the parents’ room for the first six months to a year and suggests using a co-sleeper (a bassinet that attaches to your bed): “The baby and the mother have their separate spaces, so they don’t wake each other up, but they’re within arm’s reach of one another for easier feeding.”