How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?

Forget about tips for making organic baby food or procuring the perfect tiny wardrobe. When it's 3 a.m. and baby is fussy and awake, the only advice you care about is how to get him or her to sleep. Here are five tactics to try when you're in desperate need of some shut-eye.
  • Establish a regular routine. Even adults have trouble resting at night when their schedule fluctuates, and the same goes for your baby. Setting a routine that begins with quiet downtime, like reading a book, listening to soft music or giving your baby a bath, followed by some light rocking and ending in a clean crib may be all your little one needs to prepare for slumber. In fact, pretty much any method of getting your baby to sleep can be effective -- as long as you're consistent.
  • Be selfish with your bed. You are advised against sharing your bed with a child under age 2 because of safety concerns.
  • Be active during the day. Your baby may be too young to burn energy running around the yard, but stimulating activities like going for a walk in the stroller, seeing friends and family, visiting a children's museum or doing a sing-along activity (even if you're the only one singing!) may help tucker your baby out and get him or her ready for bedtime.
  • Consider a pacifier. Moms tend to be divided on whether pacifiers are a good idea for their babies, but if your little one is especially fussy, it may be worth a try even if you're anti-paci. The sucking movement can be very calming to young ones, and it's at least much better than putting him or her to bed with a bottle, which can be both a choking hazard and harmful to his or her dental health.
  • Don't let baby get too used to being rocked to sleep. Of course, during these first months, it's a joyful experience for you to feel your baby fall asleep in your arms. But this may be a hard habit to break if your baby decides that it's the only way to end the day and fall asleep. Instead, aim to put your baby in his or her crib while he or she is tired but still awake.
After 6 to 8 months of age, introduce a lovey (small blanky or stuffed animal) into her crib that she can cuddle with. Pick a night. Friday night often works well because the first few nights might be tough. Be consistent because she won’t understand why sometimes she gets picked up and fed and sometimes she doesn’t. Let her fall asleep at bedtime and tell her how long you expect her to sleep (saying it out loud helps you know your plan). When she does wake up, allow her to figure out how to get back to sleep on her own. There may be a few nights of crying, but if you resist the temptation to intervene, each night the crying will be less, and before you know it she’ll be sleeping all night long (and so will you). In the morning, tell her how proud you are of
her—clap, cheer, sing, or dance. Even if she is too young to understand, it’s a good routine to start. Both parents must be on the same page for any sleep plan to work, so talk to your partner and agree on a consistent approach.
Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers

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Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------The must-have resource for parents of children up to age three! Small enough to fit in a diaper bag, but big on...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.