Those newborn days are a LOT. And finding the best ways to get your newborn to sleep can feel daunting!

Those days are filled with love like you have never felt before, pure exhaustion that is somehow much worse than when you used to pull all-nighters, joy with a capital J, more responsibilities than the head of Secret Service, and pretty much every other overwhelming and completely unreasonable emotion. Among the many new “parenting skills” you are trying to master adequately learn, sleep is likely at the top, or just below “drinking coffee while it is still hot” and “making time to shower once a day week”.

You may have heard that newborns “sleep all the time”, or that you have to rock them to sleep, or that you’re never ever going to sleep again. My point is there is a lot of information out there, and what’s worse, that information is saturated with misinformation. But not to worry any longer, you have come to the right little corner of the internet.

I’m going to clear up the misconceptions by letting you in on the big secret: newborns actually CAN get great sleep, and give you the 5 best ways that you can make that happen. 

Overview of 5 Ways to Get Your Newborn Sleeping

father using different ways to get his newborn to sleep | The Peaceful Sleeper

Before we dive into each tip and trick for good newborn sleep, here is a quick overview.

  1. Focus on feedings
  2. Orient day and night
  3. Swaddle
  4. Get that baby to sleep (focus on wake windows & sleepy cues)
  5. Keep that baby asleep (rocking, snuggling, etc.)

Now, let’s explore each one in-depth so you can get that cute newborn of yours sleeping! đź’¤

1. Focus on Feedings 

It may seem super obvious that if you want your baby to sleep well, then you should make sure that they are full before you expect them to sleep. However, what may surprise you is that if your baby falls asleep while you are feeding them, it can have a few negative implications.

Let’s take a minute here and clarify that there is a big difference between feeding TO sleep and feeding BEFORE sleep. There is nothing wrong with either, however your baby’s sleep can definitely be impacted (and not in a good way) if they are falling asleep while being fed.

mother breastfeeding her baby before sleep | The Peaceful Sleeper

First of all, they will likely not have had a good full feed. If you are breastfeeding, then the foremilk comes first and then the hindmilk, which is the fatty filling milk. You don’t want the feed to end before baby gets enough hindmilk. And if you are bottle feeding, you don’t want your baby to fall asleep before they have gotten their full feeding.

The other potential negative to your baby falling asleep during a feed is that even a short dozing off during a feed can count as a “nice long nap” in their little world, which will make trying to put them down for a nap near impossible.

Now, let’s be real though, babies love to be lulled to sleep by sucking warm milk, so it will happen from time to time. My recommendation is to try your best to make sure your baby is getting a nice full feeding BEFORE they fall asleep. So do what you can to keep your little one awake while you feed them, but know that despite your best efforts, they may fall asleep during a feed and it’s not the end of the world! 


2. Orient Day and Night 

It’s totally normal to consider ditching your baby’s college fund and using it to buy copious amounts of caffeine when they are up for hours in the middle of the night, ready to party. But there is a better solution: work on orienting day and night.

To do this, make sure your newborn isn’t napping for more than 2-3 hours at a time, during the day. You can also make it very clear that night is night and day is day.

For nighttime sleep, make sure the environment is totally dark, and quiet (except for the sound machine). When you get up to feed or change their diaper, keep the lights to the bare minimum, avoid any playful engagement, and don’t turn on any TVs or devices. (Don’t panic, you can just use headphones and turn down the backlighting on your phone).

In contrast, naps can be more “active”. By this I mean, naps on the go and/or some background noise is ok. I still recommend watching for overstimulation, so if you are doing a nap on the go, bring a well-ventilated car seat cover and a portable sound machine. 

If you haven’t already, download my FREE newborn sleep guide. It’ll give you a good rundown on establishing good sleep for your newborn that you can print and keep with you! Download for free here đź’¤


3. Swaddle 

a baby wrapped in a swaddle to help encourage sleep | The Peaceful Sleeper

You may have heard that the newborn phase is also the “fourth trimester”. Your baby is in a whole new environment and this big change is a hard adjustment. That’s why newborns love it when their environment mimics the environment where they spent the past 9 months.

Enter swaddling.

It is a fantastic way to recreate that warm and snug environment. The other huge benefit of swaddling is that it helps reduce their Moro reflex. The Moro reflex causes their little arms and legs to flail and jerk, which makes it hard to sleep if they are not swaddled.

The key to swaddling is to do it safely. Make sure the swaddle is snug enough that it won’t come loose and creep up over their face, but not too tight that you can’t easily fit a finger between them and the swaddle. You also want to make sure they have full movement of their hips and legs. Also, pay attention to the temperature of the room and what you are dressing your baby in, so they don’t overheat. 


4. Get That Baby to Sleep

But HOWWWWWWWWWW?! Yes. Getting your baby to sleep can often feel like more effort than hosting a dinner party for the Queen, however, the biggest mistake parents make is trying to get their baby to sleep once they are OVER tired.

That’s right, you want to get them to sleep when they are sleepy, not tired. It’s amazing how quickly a baby can go from happy and awake to wired and tired, resulting in a college-party-style second wind.

Newborns do best when they are awake for no longer than 45-90 minutes, and they have these sneaky little “sleepy” signals that are easy to miss. The sleepy cues to watch for are looking bored, reddish hue on their eyelids and eyebrows, becoming calm and still, and maybe even giving you a subtle yawn if you’re lucky. So watch the clock and for these sleepy cues in order to get your newborn to bed right at the sweet spot timing.

Overstimulation can play a role in a baby becoming overtired, and there are things you can do to prevent this besides trading in raging concerts for some one-on-one tummy time. If you are nearing the end of a wake window, you can hang out together in a dimly lit room for some quiet time before a nap, or if you are out and about, you can make sure you have a well-ventilated car seat cover and sound machine handy to help block out excessive stimuli. 


5. Keep That Baby Asleep 

mother rocking a newborn to get her to sleep | The Peaceful Sleeper

Now that you’ve gotten your newborn to sleep, let’s chat about keeping them asleep. The good news is that you can’t spoil a newborn! So if your little one wakes after a super short nap or if you are struggling to get them to sleep, don’t be afraid to pull out all the stops.

Rocking, snuggling, and holding for a nap are alllllll more than ok. Your baby loves it, and you likely can tolerate some baby snuggles, so just enjoy and feel confident in knowing that you are giving your baby the sleep they need and are NOT spoiling them.

If your baby is like most babies, then they likely have not figured out that waking up right when the sun rises (or, *grits teeth* before the sun rising) is very unwelcome to most members of the family. The best way to handle these early morning wake-ups is to treat them like the middle of the night; feed your baby and put them right back to sleep. Ideally (and realistically) you should be able to milk it out until 7 or 8 am. 

Recap of Best Ways to Help a Newborn Sleep Well

mother kissing a newborn baby | The Peaceful Sleeper

All of this hard work on your part is laying the foundation for great sleep. If your newborn is getting great sleep now, then it will pay off later, I promise. 

PS- If you want age-based sleep tips delivered to your inbox AND a free newborn sleep guide, sign up for for free here!

As a recap, here are 5 of the best ways to get your newborn to sleep.

  1. Focus on feedings
  2. Orient day and night
  3. Swaddle
  4. Get that baby to sleep (focus on wake windows & sleepy cues)
  5. Keep that baby asleep (rocking, snuggling, etc.)

And then, when your baby is 4 months old, you can start sleep training! And it will be SO MUCH EASIER if you have been laying the foundation for great sleep through the first 4 months. Sleep training simply means teaching your baby the skills required to get good sleep, while being responsive, meeting their needs, and maintaining your attachment.

And the absolute MOST FUN way to do this is to join our virtual group sleep training! We offer this once a month, and it’s girl’s night/date night meets sleep training. Spaces are limited and they fill up quickly, so click here to learn more and join the fun! And in the meantime, if you are looking for even more tips and tricks on how to get amazing newborn sleep, check out my newborn course and guide pack!