Desperate to establish a nighttime routine with your little one? It can be harder than it seems, but lucky for us, every child comes with their own personality and unique set of challenges, each of them bursting with individuality. While this is an exciting time for new parents, it can also be equally exhausting, taking a hefty toll on your family’s quality of sleep.
If you think mastering the delicate act of putting your child to bed is what dreams are made of, you’re not the only one. Read on for our expert tips on putting your little one, and sleep deprivation, to bed.
Why Does Your Baby Cry When Put Down to Sleep?
A crying infant at bedtime is a common challenge, so we’ve compiled a guide with our best tips to help you tackle your tiny new adventure.
It’s entirely reasonable for your child to suffer from separation anxiety when they’re around 10 months old. These behaviors typically subside around 18 months but sometimes persist longer. Every baby is different, and your approach to the issue will be unique, but we’ve found a few ways to ease your newborn’s stress.
Let your baby take the lead. If they crawl into another room and it’s safe, consider letting them explore on their own for a bit so they grow comfortable being alone with the assurance you’ll always come back. Additionally, try to leave them during a time of contentment, such as after they’ve eaten or napped.
One of the most common reasons infants cry is because they’re hungry, which is basically their modus operandi for the newborn months. While they’re young, babies haven’t yet developed other effective ways of communicating, so crying is their primary strategy to alert you of their needs.
A great way to combat nighttime hunger is to feed your child right before laying them down. Just as adults feel drowsy after a big meal, newborns do too and will likely struggle to keep their eyes open after a hearty feed. With their basic needs taken care of, your child could have an easier time going down with ease.
Lack of Routine
Most of us need regularity to feel safe and secure in the world. The vast majority of people function with a higher level of assurance when they have an established routine and know what to expect, and this includes babies as well. Despite being only months old, your newborn baby’s brain is astonishingly intelligent and can adopt habits, including latching on to a familiar routine.
When a child has no clear expectation regarding when they can anticipate their next nap or meal, they could grow agitated, as a lack of routine can easily give rise to distress.
Learn more: Parent's Guide to a Child's Sleep
How to Put Your Baby to Bed Without Crying
If you’re struggling to soothe a babe who cries when put down for bed, don’t worry; most new parents share this experience—but it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on for ideas on how to put your baby down in peace and avoid a meltdown.
Establish a Routine
Most infants always want to snuggle with their parents if they can get away with it, but naturally, some chores (or other children) need tending to as well, even more so with a newborn in the house. Establishing a routine can be the most prominent solution to calming your little lovebug.
If a child can begin to associate the signal that straight after feeding they’ll consistently go to bed at a reasonable hour, they’re more likely to go down and sleep through the night, according to a study at Penn State College of Medicine. Babies will be inclined to rest happily and relax with ease with the assurance that they know what to expect.
Want to know more? Check out our guide for baby bedtime routine.
Read a Book
If your kiddo is fussy when you put them down, consider reading a book together before a nap or bedtime. Even singing has been shown to prevent language problems, according to Dr. Kimberly Sena Moore of Psychology Today. Merely listening to the sound of a parent’s voice is reassuring, and this quality time could help you establish a stronger bond and comfortable routine.
Some mothers and fathers seem to be born with special skills to talk to a newborn; however, many of us need a bit of help to foster that ability, and reading a book removes the guesswork and gives you a script to foster their growth.
A gentle massage of a little angel’s body may sound novel, but it’s a clever method for comforting a crying child. Particularly if your little bundle enjoys physical touch, they could relax into a sleepy little monster before you know it.
Massaging your child before bed not only relaxes them, but according to The Center For The Advancement Of Health, studies have shown it may help to increase bonding with caregivers and the production of melatonin, which promotes the development of their circadian rhythm and regular sleep.
Getting a baby to sleep on schedule is no walk in the park, and this is an excellent trick to have up your sleeve during a rough moment.
When comforting a fussy infant, it’s easy to forget their needs often aren’t that much different than our own. When we’re stressed, we need something to help us relax, and who doesn’t enjoy a warm bath? Warm water is remarkably soothing and can even mimic the time spent in the womb, according to Nadia-Elysse Harris of Medical Daily.
We usually treat a bath more like a necessity to maintain hygiene, but taking the time to let your little one unwind and enjoy the water can ease them into a calmer state and prepare for bedtime.
It’s not uncommon for a baby to fall asleep while nursing, as they’re content with a full belly. However if nursing your babe before bedtime is heavily incorporated into their nighttime routine, they could become dependent on this to fall asleep. Aim to feed them until they’re drowsy, but not yet asleep, so they don’t fall into a habit of dependency.
Another technique is what’s called a “dream feed”, which is when you feed your baby after they’ve fallen asleep (while taking appropriate measures) to ensure their stomach is fuller longer, enabling them to sleep through the night.
Frequently Asked Questions
When do babies learn to sleep on their own?
Each baby comes with their own set of joys and challenges; what is easy for one kid may prove challenging for another. Every parent’s approach will vary when adjusting to their child’s particular needs; after all, nobody knows your child as you do.
In research, it’s been shown that most little ones have the capacity to sleep independently from the age of four months old. Good news, right? However, how quickly they go down and how content they are to do so will vary, so don’t be discouraged, but there is verifiable hope.
Should I let my baby cry themself to sleep?
As parents, it’s natural to want to protect our children from harm and soothe them when they’re upset. Depending on your approach, it may feel cruel or harsh to let your child “cry it out,” while others may be comfortable doing so.
If it’s your first, you may be going in to check on them every ten seconds, and if it’s your fourth, 10 minutes may not seem like much. There are many different sleep training techniques ranging from a more gentle to a more firm approach, and there are benefits to each. You know your child’s needs, and the right method will depend on what’s best for you both.
Need more info? Learn how to gentle sleep train your baby using proven strategies.
With a new little cherub, every day is full of surprises, and why they’re crying is no exception. If you’re already a parent, you know that putting a kid to bed is no walk in the park.
In hopes of easing the transition into parenthood, we have plenty of resources created specifically to help new parents navigate this journey; because deciphering your little munchkin’s individual needs takes a tremendous amount of love, patience, and sometimes a little help.
Adjusting to your child’s needs will inevitably require a bit of trial and error, and that’s simply part of the fun in getting to know this tiny new person.
Jill Zwarensteyn is the editor for Sleep Advisor and a certified sleep science coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.
Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.
She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.