Traveling with Infants: The Essentials

Infant travel tips

Flickr Credit: treehouse1977

After the first few months (or weeks) of having your newborn baby at home, you might be getting a little stir crazy. Or your family or friends who live a few hours away begin clamoring loud enough that they’d like to see you, and you feel brave enough to take a family trip. Traveling with infants can be a major challenge. With a few tricks up your sleeve, you can make the ride a little bit easier. Our guide is broken down into three sections:

Day-to-Day Essentials
Taking Baby Out In Public
Infant Sleep While Traveling

Day-to-Day Essentials for Infant Care

First off, the easy stuff. You’ll need enough of those daily things that your baby needs, including but not limited to:

  • Formula and/or baby food. It’s best to over-estimate how much you need, because these can be expensive when you buy them out of town. You should have enough clean bottles and nipples within reach, as well as bottles of clean water for mixing. One item that can be a life-saver when traveling with infants is pre-mixed, ready-to-feed liquid formula. These seem to taste a bit different from the powder, so make sure your baby likes it before you leave town.
  • Diapers and wipes. Calculate how many you need per day per baby, and then add 20% just to be safe. The importance of diapers is often underestimated! There can be unforeseen blowouts or bouts of digestive issues. Plus, traveling is much easier when you’re not trying to stretch diapers.
  • Baby clothes. Pack plenty of these, and go for comfort over cuteness. Think about what your newborn should sleep in. Footed pajamas or onesies are easier to keep track of than socks. Same thing with single-piece garments over two-piece outfits.
  • Car seat. You have this already, because it’s the law. If you’re flying, be certain ahead of time that there will be a car seat waiting for the ride from the airport to wherever you’re going. If it’s a shuttle and they don’t offer one, bring your own.
  • Stroller. Unless you plan to lug your baby around in his or her car seat the whole time, bring along an umbrella stroller or travel system. See our Pram & Stroller Reviews for some of the best options.
  • Toiletries. Don’t forget the little things like Q-tips, diaper rash cream, and baby toothbrushes. For a full list, see our article on 14 things for baby’s medicine cabinet.

Adjusting Your Baby’s Car Seat

The more comfortable your baby is, the more relaxed he’ll be. That’s the key to traveling with babies. It starts in the car with a properly adjusted car seat.

  • Adjust the straps of the car seat to the proper height. Your baby’s grown since you came home from the hospital. For most car seats, you make this adjustment before putting the baby in because it involves flipping the seat upside down. Set the straps so that they’re at shoulder level or slightly above.
  • Position the baby deep into the seat and in a comfortable posture. It’s OK to use the head support and such that came with the seat, but no after-market products, as these haven’t been crash-tested with the seat. The only thing permissible is a rolled-up receiving blanket. For newborns, you may need two or three rolled-up blankets to keep them upright and in position.
  • Keep the light out. One lesson we learned the hard way on long car trips is that even tinted windows don’t keep the sun out, especially in summertime. It seems like every other stretch of highway puts the sunbeams right in your baby’s face. You might not even realize this because the seat is rear-facing. Get a pair of pull-down window shades for cars. In a pinch, I’ve also tied towels or blankets to the “oh crap” handle above the door. If your baby’s car seat has a canopy, use that too – most of them rotate 180 degrees.

Taking Baby Out in Public

Newborn baby carrier reviews

Baby Carrier Reviews

When you’re traveling, you’ll most likely spend more time taking your infant in public – stores, restaurants, that sort of thing. One thing that you will immediately notice is that babies have a strange effect on people. Complete strangers will approach and greet your baby, often making silly faces or noises to try to get a smile. This stuff is fine. What you  need to watch out for is this: people will come up and touch your baby without asking you. They often don’t even realize it – there’s some base instinct acting here. My grandmother was notorious for this.

Being a germophobe, I don’t like strangers touching my baby, especially his hands which are likely to return any moment to his mouth. Here are the strategies I use to prevent it:

  1. Block access to the baby. If your car seat or stroller has a canopy, use it. Keep your baby close to you at all times, so that you can use your body as another barrier. See our review of newborn baby carriers to learn about some great options for keeping baby close but your hands free.
  2. Be ready to speak and act. If I see someone reaching for my baby, I ask them to stop. If necessary, I will physically block their outstretched, likely-unwashed fingers. I do try to be nice while doing this; one phrase that seems to help is when I say “Oh, sorry, he’s just getting over a cold.”
  3. Keep hand sanitizer with you at all times. Use it liberally on your baby’s hands in the event that someone touches them. You should also use it yourself after touching door handles, cart handles, cash, public-use writing utensils, that sort of thing.

Baby High Chair / Shopping Cart Covers

One of the best baby items that we ever bought was a highchair/shopping cart cover. These serve several purposes. First, they’re soft and padded to protect your baby from the hard surface of the chair or cart. Second, they help catch anything that your baby might drop, such as a pacifier. Third, they act as a germ barrier between your baby and whatever the previous babies in that chair have had. People are always coming up and asking where we got ours.

travel high chairPortable High Chairs

Another very useful item to pack along for baby road trips is a portable high chair. This is something I always seem to forget when we’re going places with the kids, and them I’m always kicking myself for it. Portable high chairs like the Ciao Baby travel high chair have so many uses for when you’re out and about with a baby:

  • A clean place to plop the baby when visiting friends
  • At a picnic or outdoor party, somewhere safe and bug-free for baby to sit.
  • An excuse not to borrow the dirty or rickety old high chair from someone’s garage
  • A slight reduction in the mess your little messy eater will leave behind

Helping Your Infant Sleep While Traveling

Traveling with your infant is easiest when he’s sleeping. Unfortunately, babies have trouble sleeping in strange environments, and you can’t take the entire baby room with you. Still, with a little bit of planning, you can bring along a few essentials to help establish a comfortable, portable sleeping setup for your infant. Alternatively, if you’re traveling to the lake cabin or grandparents’ house, what better place to install a mini crib or bassinet? That way your little one always has a place to sleep and call their own.

  1. Pacifier clip. At home, if the pacifier falls on the floor it’s no big deal. A quick rinse and wipe, and you pop it right back into the baby’s mouth. When traveling, it’s another story. If it falls in the car you can’t find it; if it falls on the floor of a restaurant or store or hotel room, there’s no way you’re putting it right back in. Enter one of the best inventions ever for baby care: the pacifier clip. It fits most pacifiers and attaches snugly to your baby’s outfit or sleep sack. There’s always a pacifier handy when this thing is attached. Don’t leave home without one.
  2. Travel crib or pack-N-play. Your baby needs a soft, protected place to sleep while you’re traveling. Traditionally, you lugged along a pack-N-play (also called a play yard) for your baby to sleep in. High-end models come with built-in bassinets, changers, and compartments, but those don’t travel as well as the basic pen does. But there are some other options out there: compact folding bassinets and cribs designed to be travel friendly. See our review of portable travel cribs for some of the best options there.
  3. Portable swing. We have a Fisher-Price portable swing like this one, we love it. It folds up flat enough to stick behind the front seat of the mini-van. It runs on batteries, is quiet, and very soft. Babies love this thing. An added bonus is that this swing is small enough to keep in the corner of a room, and keeps your baby off of the floor. For a breakdown of the features, see our comparison of baby swings.
  4. A portable night light like this one, which is rechargeable and comes in a variety of animal shapes, is a comfort you can take along with you. The trick is to use the same light at home, so that your baby is accustomed to it. See our guide to night lights for babies for details.
  5. Sound machine. You won’t be able to control much of the noise in a car, on an airplane, or even in your hotel room. To soothe your baby and provide some white noise, look into a baby soother or sound machine. They even make portable versions of these.

Baby Nap Questions

Baby nap questions

Image Credit: The Nest Community

Naps are an important part of baby sleep training, especially as infants get old enough to stay awake hours at a time. Finding the appropriate nap schedule for your baby can be challenging. This guide should get you started.

How Many Naps Should My Baby Take?
How Do I Get My Baby to Nap?
Why Won’t My Baby Nap?
Can I Wake My Baby From His/Her Nap?
Where Should Baby Nap?

How Many Naps Should My Baby Take?

Baby nap schedules can vary substantially, but the number and length of them are dependent largely on your baby’s age. Here’s a breakdown of typical number of naps baby age. Note, these are adjusted ages, meaning the time that’s passed since your baby’s original due date. If your baby was born before his or her due date, adjust his or her age down.

Baby Age Daytime Naps
Newborn to 2 months 4-5 naps
2 to 4 months 3 naps
4 to 6 months 2-3 naps
6 to 9 months 2 naps
9 to 12 months 2 naps
12 to 18 months 1-2 naps
18 to 24 months 1 nap
Source: Our pediatrician and Parents magazine.

As you’re probably already aware, newborns take 4-5 naps a day, which is a mathematical way of saying that they eat, sleep, and poop in 3- to 4-hour cycles around the clock. Yes, even at night. Sometime between the ages of 2-4 months, your baby will likely begin staying awake for longer periods of time, and you might go down to 3 naps of 2-3 hours each with a longer stretch at night. See our baby sleep chart for more details.

Baby Nap Schedule

By the age of 6 months, your baby will probably move to 2 naps per day: one in the late morning, and one in the afternoon. This classic schedule will continue for about a year. The timing and length of the naps depends a little bit on your daily schedule – I find that my boys are ready for their morning nap about 2 or 2.5 hours after waking up. For us, that’s around 10:00 in the morning. They sleep about an hour and a half to two hours and wake up for lunch. Then they play until mid-afternoon, and take a slightly longer nap (2-3 hours) in the late afternoon. You might adapt this schedule to fit your baby’s preferences, which will become clear over time.

How Do I Get My Baby to Nap?

At the newborn stage, this is easy: just change your newborn’s diaper, feed, and then burp. They pretty much go to sleep on their own. As your baby grows, however, he or she will have more control over wakefulness and an ever-more-piercing cry. Here are some steps you can take that will help your baby nap when it’s time to.

  1. Set a schedule. Napping works best when you follow a routine each day, including when your baby wakes, eats, and goes down for naps. For us, that’s waking up (diaper change), having breakfast, playing for an hour, then bottle (diaper change) and bed. The daily routine should have a sort of rhythm to it; with success, your baby will expect to sleep when nap time approaches.
  2. Watch for drowsiness. When your baby’s physically ready for sleep, you’ll probably see the signs: rubbing or closing eyes, putting his or her head down, and often general fussiness. This is the best time to put your baby down, especially if it matches up with your schedule. Don’t wait until your baby is over-tired! When he’s ready, he’s ready.
  3. Feed and burp. Feeding and burping should probably be part of the ritual. Breast milk is best, but warm formula or whole milk (when your baby is old enough) have the same effect. Not only do they nourish, but they have components that actual help your baby sleep – that’s why warm milk is a “home remedy” for insomnia in adults. A satisfied belly is a must for your baby to fall asleep.
  4. Make your baby comfy-cozy. You should dress your baby for bed, if not in pajamas, then at least in soft, nonrestrictive clothing. A sleep sack or sleeping bag over a onesie is a great combo, offering the right amount of warmth, freedom, and comfort. Sleep sacks are a good “bedtime signal” and have the added bonus of making it harder for your baby to roll.
  5. Set the stage. If you want your baby to take napping seriously, treat it like they’re going to bed for the night. Lights out, shades drawn, and soothing white noise (see our reviews of baby crib mobiles or sound machines).

Why Won’t My Baby Nap??

Sometimes babies will fight their naps, either consistently or on occasion. Part of me wants to tell you, “Hey, babies don’t always do what you want.” But if it’s a consistent issue then something might be wrong. First, you should consider if you’re putting your baby down for too many naps for his or her age (see the table above). Next, check the diaper, and make sure that your little one’s belly is full. If you’d like detailed help, see our article on Why Baby Won’t Sleep.

Should I Wake My Baby From His/Her Nap?

Many times you’ve probably heard the old adage: Never wake a sleeping baby. I understand the idea behind this, but don’t entirely agree. Sometimes you need to wake your baby to keep him or her on schedule (with regard to feeding and napping in particular). There are exceptions to this, such as if your baby is sick (they need more sleep) or if you’re letting your little one get a bit more sleep because the rest of the day’s schedule will already be disrupted by something else, i.e. a road trip.

Otherwise, sure, don’t be afraid to wake your baby when nap time has gone on too long. In fact, keeping naps to a reasonable length is one strategy we’ve used when one or both of our babies start waking up too early in the morning (more than an hour before usual time). It seems like we were letting them nap a bit too long, especially in the afternoon. Curtailing this nap to an hour and a half helped our boys fall asleep at bedtime (without any crying) and sleep a little bit more past sunrise.

Where Should Baby Nap?

The safest place for your baby to sleep is the crib, and this holds true for naps as well as overnights. Putting your baby in the crib is also an important signal that it’s nap time, as opposed to play time. On the other hand, if you’ll be watching your baby closely during the day, I’m not opposed to letting him or her nap in a stroller, swing, or bouncer if it’s more convenient. Still, if you use the crib every time, you’ll probably be able to get your little one to sleep more consistently.

If you need help, see our article on getting baby to sleep in the crib.

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What Should A Newborn Sleep In?

what should newborn sleep inNewborns sleep eighteen to twenty hours a day. If you’re lucky, that’s 4-5 hours at a time. What should your newborn sleep in to help him sleep longer? The goal should be to keep your baby warm, comfortable, and snug, in the safest way possible. Here are the basics.

Things A Newborn Should Sleep In

There are basically four to six things you should put your newborn in for sleep. Top to bottom, they generally include a set of soft pajamas, a tightly-wrapped swaddler or sleep sack, and possibly a light blanket. Very young newborns might also benefit from a sleep hat to conserve body heat and mittens to prevent scratches during sleep. For safety and sleep training purposes, newborns should also do most of their sleeping in a baby crib or bassinet.

Put Your Newborn in Pajamas

Your newborn should wear a long-sleeve onesie or long-sleeve pajamas. Even though it’s cute, don’t let your baby sleep in just a diaper and blanket. Most babies like to have their hands free, rather than tucked in, and long sleeves are important to keep the arms warm. A zipper or snaps will give you access to the vital diaper area. Pajamas with footies are nice if your baby tends to kick out of blankets. Pajamas will also prevent a chill if you have to unwrap him to change a diaper.

Here are some of our favorites:

Newborn Footie Pajamas Newborn Girl Pajamas Baseball Pajamas for newborn
Newborn Sleep N Play Baby Girl by Carters Baseball Boy Sleep N Play
Here’s a two-pack of 100% cotton, zipper-front-closure pajamas with fitted sleeves and footies to keep baby warm. This onesie has a snap closure and is tag-free for extra comfort. 100% cotton and machine washable. For your little baseball fan, this long-sleeved snap onesie is footed, soft, and tag-free. Machine wash cold.
Little Me Monkey Footie
Newborn Kimono for sleeping
Newborn Bodysuit for sleeping

Swaddle Your Baby

Aden & Anais SwaddleSwaddle your newborn. There is a reason that they swaddle all of the newborns in the hospital nursery. It keeps the babies warm, and imitates the snug comfort of the womb. There are two ways to do this. You can use a regular blanket (Aden & Anais blankets are ideal) and learn the swaddling technique. Or, you can take a shortcut and use a velcro swaddler. These are easy to use and keep your baby snugged up tight, even if he or she tends to move around.

Has your baby outgrown the swaddle? If so, check out our review of baby sleep sacks and sleeping bags for some zippered sleepwear that they won’t kick out of.

Baby Hat

Put a soft cap or baby hat on the head, if your infant will take it. This extra little step helps newborns with little or no hair stay warm. The hat should be a soft, breathable material. Make sure it doesn’t go down over your baby’s eyes. If it falls off during sleep, that’s okay. Some infants just don’t tolerate these, but if your baby does, it’s a good way to keep him warm at night. Here are three great options:

Zutano newborn hat Lovedbaby hat Minnie hat
Zutano Infant Fleece Hat L’ovedbaby Cute Cap Trumpette Minnie Hat
This unisex fleece hat has an interlock band for an extra warm fit and little teddy bear ears at the top for extra cuteness. This very popular hat from L’ovedbaby is 100% cotton, super-soft, form-fitting, and comes in a wide variety of colors. Is this not the cutest little Minnie Mouse hat you’ve ever seen? It’s Disney licensed and made of a quality knit.
Zutano hat reviews
Lovedbaby hat reviews
Minnie hat reviews

Newborn mittens to sleep

Mittens To Prevent Scratching

One thing that continues to surprise me is how fast baby fingernails grow. It probably has something to do with their diet of 100% milk plus vitamins. Clipping your baby’s fingernails is an exercise in courage and takes nerves of steel. When your little one gets a little older and can grab at things, you’ll know their nails are long because they’ll scratch you.

In the meantime, if you start finding scratches on your baby’s face or head, it was probably self-inflicted while he or she was sleeping. Until you have the time and bravery to trim them, a set of soft little sleep mittens will prevent any more scratches. These are inexpensive and often come in packs of four, which is good because they’re easily lost (in the crib or laundry).

Offer A Light Blanket

Optionally, offer a light blanket. My boys (7 months) like to have a light, soft blanket against their face when they fall asleep. Technically, this isn’t recommended in the APA baby safe sleeping guidelines, but you might try offering one if your baby seems uncomfortable or has trouble soothing himself.

Use a lightweight, breathable blanket such as the fantastic Aden+Anais muslin blankets, Tuck the loose ends under the baby securely so that he can’t pull it up over his face.

Baby Should Sleep in the Crib

Another point that I should mention here is that your newborn baby should sleep in his or her crib in his or her room (unless you have a bassinet installed in your own room). You should establish this bedtime habit early, when newborns are biologically programmed to fall asleep right after eating. Feed your baby, burp him, rock for a few minutes (if desired), and put him to bed in the crib. If your baby won’t sleep in the crib, see our article on getting baby to sleep in the crib.

Mini crib reviews

Mini Crib for Newborn

Looking for a crib that also becomes a toddler bed, day bed, and full-size headboard? Check out our guide to the best 4-in-1 convertible cribs.

Even though it’s fun and sometimes convenient, your newborn shouldn’t sleep in bed with you. Not only is it a bad practice, it’s unsafe. A significant number of infants die each year sleeping in bed with their parents. Even without you in it, an adult bed is generally unsafe for a newborn – it has no rails, is high from the floor, and has pillows and loose blankets that present suffocation hazards. For more, see the latest baby sleep safety guidelines.

It’s safer, and probably easier, to let your baby sleep in a mini crib or bassinet next to your bed. See our mini crib reviews for some recommendations.

If you’re planning to take a trip with your baby, don’t forget all of the necessary sleep items! Nothing is worse than getting to the hotel room and realizing that you forgot that critical pacifier or blanket or sound machine. Our travel crib reviews compare some portable cribs and bassinets that you can take along with you.

What To Read Next

If you like this article, you might want to subscribe by e-mail or RSS so that you’re notified when new content is posted.

Baby Sleep Sacks and Sleeping Bags Choosing Night Light for Baby Best baby pacifiers Get baby to sleep through the night
Learn about the benefits and bestsellers of baby sleep sacks and sleeping bags. Projection Night Lights keep your baby entertained while in the crib and help soothe him back to sleep. Best Baby Pacifiers has our recommendations for newborns, older babies, and teething infants. Visit our sleep training section for strategies and tips for teaching your baby to sleep through the night.

Benefits of Breast Feeding

Benefits of breast feedingBreast feeding is one of the most important advantages you can give your baby from day one. Well, from day two or three, to be accurate (breast milk doesn’t usually come in right away).

All three of our children were breastfed for at least 6 months. I’m a huge proponent of breast feeding, and in this article, I’ll tell you why.

Benefits of Breast Feeding
Breast Feeding Tips
When and How to Stop Breast Feeding

Benefits of Breast Feeding

There are many, many reasons that you should breast feed your baby, but here are some of the most important benefits:

  • Breast milk is the best food for babies. Not only is it naturally made, but it’s completely digestible and contains every nutrient that your baby needs to be healthy.
  • Breast feeding promotes natural immunity. When you breast feed your baby, you provide him with macrophages and lymphocytes, two kinds of immune system cells that fight infections and produce antibodies.
  • Mother and baby bond while breast feeding. There is no denying that the act of breast feeding itself provides some special bonding time between mom and baby. You’ll become known as “she who provides food” and with babies, that’s the most important person in the world.
  • The convenience of breast feeding. Breast milk is always at the right temperature, usually available, and generally doesn’t require a bottle. You can breast feed a baby almost anywhere (though investing in a nursing cover is a good idea for when you’re out in public). There’s no prep time, which makes it especially convenient at night. You can let a newborn sleep in a mini crib or bassinet in your room to help with those overnight feedings.
  • Breast feeding saves money. Yes, you’ll eat more while breast feeding, but the cost of adult food is nothing next to the cost of infant formula. Even if you buy in bulk and avoid the fancy easy-digestion or all-organic formulas, that stuff, you’ll save $40-60 per month at a minimum by breast feeding.
  • Reduce the risk of breast cancer. Breast feeding has been associated with a slightly reduced risk of breast cancer, particularly when continued for 1-2 years after your baby is born.

Breast Feeding Tips

Medela Breast Pump

Medela Pump in Style

Breast feeding may come naturally to you, especially if you’ve done it before. Here are a few tips to help you find success:

  1. Be patient. Breast milk usually comes in 2-3 days after the baby has been born. Until then, you’ll get the nutrient-rich but volume poor colostrum, which doesn’t amount to much. Still, it’s important to keep trying several times a day – the contact and sucking from your baby will stimulate your body and speed things along.
  2. Invest in a good breast pump. A breast pump is helpful for getting started nursing, and for stockpiling milk when it comes in (you’ll probably be making more than your newborn can eat at first). You can get entry-level breast pumps for around $100. You can get the hand pumps for even cheaper, but those are a joke. You’ll want a quality double pump like the Medela Pump In Style, which we’ve used for all three kids. If it helps you with breast feeding, this thing will pay for itself.
  3. On a related note, stockpile breast milk whenever you can. In the first month or two, you’ll probably have a surplus of milk. You can pump it into Medela storage bottles and freeze it for any time that you’ll be away from your baby or he’s hungrier than usual.
  4. Make a schedule and stick to it. You can nurse the baby whenever, but sticking to a 3-hour or 4-hour schedule will help with milk production; it lets your baby drink all of the milk and tells your body to keep replenishing it. You can, and should, pump what your baby doesn’t drink. Keeping a regular schedule is also good for establishing baby sleep patterns, which will pay off huge when your baby starts sleeping longer.

When and How to Stop Breast Feeding

Experts will tell you to nurse your baby as long as you can, for 1-2 years if possible. Realistically, I think that nursing the first 12 months is a good goal. If you can do more than that, great! That’s more time to enjoy the benefits above. By 12 months, though, a few factors will probably make you ready to stop breast feeding:

  • Can’t keep up. Your baby’s appetite will grow as he does. Eventually, he or she will need more than you can produce between feedings, and this may cause some frustration.
  • Baby is teething. Your baby will start getting teeth sometime between the age of 6-9 months. This adds a real “ouch” factor to breast feeding, especially when they have teeth on the top and bottom. For more on this, see what to do when your baby is teething.
  • Baby fights nursing. This has happened to us – the boys just suddenly wouldn’t nurse even when they were hungry. It might have to do with hormonal changes in the body, but when your baby just refuses to drink, the nursing period may be over.

When you decide to stop nursing, there’s no special trick. You stop cold-turkey and expect a day or two of discomfort. And then it’s over, and things should return to normal for you.

What To Read Next

If you like this article, you might want to subscribe by e-mail or RSS so that you’re notified when new content is posted.

Baby Sleep Sacks and Sleeping Bags Choosing Night Light for Baby Best baby pacifiers Get baby to sleep through the night
Learn about the benefits and bestsellers of baby sleep sacks and sleeping bags. Projection Night Lights keep your baby entertained while in the crib and help soothe him back to sleep. Best Baby Pacifiers has our recommendations for newborns, older babies, and teething infants. Visit our sleep training section for strategies and tips for teaching your baby to sleep through the night.

Cute Baby Pajamas for Sleeping

A good, comfy set of pajamas is one easy trick for helping your baby fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. We’ve collected our favorite cute pajamas for baby girls and sleeper sets for baby boys here.

Baby Girl Pajamas

Our favorite baby girl pajamas have cute flower patterns, prints, or little animals on them.

Carter's Flowers & Butterfly Sleepwear Damask Print Three-Piece Gown Set Mud Pie Little Princess Footed Infant Sleeper
Carter’s Flowers & Butterfly SleepwearThis 3-pc. sleepwear set features a short sleeve top with a butterfly on the front, plaid shorts and pull on pants with elastic waist & a floral print. 100% Polyester and machine-washable.Now on sale for $14.00 Damask Print Three-Piece Gown SetThis set with gown, hat, and sleep socks is 100% cotton and machine washable. The sleeves fold over your baby’s hands to prevent scratching.Get Free Shipping and Free Returns Mud Pie Little Princess Footed Infant SleeperThis footed sleeper has an adorable black and white striped grosgrain ribbon ruffle around the neck, sleeves, and snap enclosures.Get $2 off and Free Shipping
Carter's 3-pc. Cats Sleepwear Set Zutano Print Footie Carter's 3-pc. Zebra Sleepwear Set
Carter’s 3-pc. Cats Sleepwear SetThis set is for kitty cat lovers, with a short-sleeve T-shirt, polka dot pull-on shorts, and all-over cat print, elastic waist pajama pants. These are 100% polyester and machine washable.On sale for $14.00 Zutano Print FootieThese cute footie pajamas with owl print are from the Itzy Bitzy line of Zutano, a husband-and-wife operation based in the foothills of Vermont.Now $25.00 with free shipping and free returns. Carter’s 3-pc. Zebra Sleepwear SetThis 3-piece set includes a short sleeve top, polka dot shorts with ruffle hem, and pull on pants with elastic waist & zebra stripes.From $19.99 to $28.00

Baby Boy Pajamas

It’s so fun shopping for baby boy pajamas. We like the cute pajamas with tool belts, safari animals, or frogs. And the baby baseball pajamas are just in time for spring training!

Mud pie toolbox sleeper Mud Pie Boathouse Baby Crab Sleeper Newborn Safari Giraffe Sleeper Footie
Mud Pie Newborn Toolbox SleeperFor your little handyman – this long-sleeve cotton pajama set has a suede tool belt applique.Buy it here and get free shipping Mud Pie Boathouse Baby Crab SleeperHow cute is this long sleeved, 100% cotton sleeper with crab appliqué!? It features inner leg snap and back closures.Save $6.50 (25%) by ordering here. Newborn Safari Giraffe Sleeper FootieThis cute Mud Pie giraffe pajama set is a cotton-spandex blend that’s machine-washable and has inner leg snaps.Get $3 off the Giraffe Sleeper
Little Me Frog Footie Mud Pie Newborn Baseball Sleeper Mud Pie Newborn Safari Monkey Sleeper Footie
Little Me Frog FootieThis adorable frog footie is multi stripe with brown, light green and white stripes and frog appliques on the front. Look at those little froggy feet!Buy it now for $9.99-$12.95. Mud Pie Newborn Baseball SleeperHow cute for your baseball fan in training! Long-sleeved and 100% cotton. Comes with hanger.Right now there’s only 1 left! Mud Pie Newborn Safari Monkey SleeperThis is another poly-cotton blend, machine washable. I love the contrasting geometric patterns.Starting at $29.99

The baseball sleeper and safari sleepers are all from Mud Pie. Visit Amazon’s Mud Pie Store for their full line of cute pajama sets and clothes.

5 Dangers Near Your Baby’s Crib

5 Dangers Near Baby's CribA baby’s crib is supposed to be the safest place in the world for him. You tell yourself: I leave him in his crib at night, I put him on his back to sleep. He’s completely safe, right? Well, maybe not.

After reading through the American Academy of Pediatrics baby sleep safety guidelines, there are some other dangerous things in your baby’s room. Things you might not have even thought about. Here they are.

Crib Danger #1: Window Hangings


Room-darkening shade

You’ve probably heard about the dangers of mini-blind cords – these narrow, super-strong, knotted strings are strangulation hazards for children and pets. You probably shouldn’t have them in your baby’s room at all, and elsewhere in the house, you should be super-careful about tucking the cords up and away from a child’s reach.

Another worry for your baby’s room is curtains, particularly when your baby is big enough to start grabbing at things. These can easily be pulled into the child’s crib and thus are a suffocation/strangulation hazard. Now, I’m a huge proponent of blocking out the light so that your child can sleep. But the safest way to do it is a plain cordless room-darkening shade.

Crib Danger #2: Crib Bumpers or Sleep Positioners

Dangerous crib bumpersWhat!? Those adorable crib bumpers that were the signature item of your $250 bedding set might be dangerous? Absolutely. I read a scientific study about this a couple of years ago, where they investigated SIDS deaths and what had caused them.

Crib bumpers was its own category – some infants had smothered when their face was against a bumper, and some had become entangled in the cords that are used to tie those bumpers on.

Don’t worry about the fact that your crib’s bars and sides are made of wood or a similar hard material. Your baby is not strong enough to bonk himself against it and cause any real harm.

I certainly didn’t read about any SIDS deaths attributed to the hard sides of the crib. It’s not easy to throw these away because they’re so cute and they cost money.

So I went to eHow and found some great ideas for recycling crib bumpers:

Crib Bumper Recycling Ideas

  • Make a wall hanging. You can cut the bumper into squares and hang them up like pictures. Or, sew large, evenly-spaced pockets on the surface of the bumper and hang it on the wall for some cute extra storage.
  • Make pillows or tooth fairy pillows out of them. Remove the straps, and cut a square out of the bumper. Sew up the cut edge, and then sew a little square of fabric right in the middle (leave one side unattached to make an opening). This is the perfect size to slide under your child’s pillow to await the tooth fairy.
  • Give yourself some cute new heating pads. Cut the bumper into square sections and remove the stuffing. Fill each section with rice, sew up the ends, and voila, a new microwaveable heating pad. Add herbs or aromatherapy oils for a more soothing effect.
  • Create a valance for your baby’s window. All you need is a wide satin ribbon that matches the baby room decor. Sew the ribbon in evenly spaced loops on the top of the crib bumper. Then, you can slide the loops onto a valance rod to hang across the ceiling.

Your crib should just have one thing in it: the baby. While we’re on the topic, don’t buy into the myth of baby sleep positioners.

Crib Danger #3: Heaters and Fans

Portable FanYou may need to control the temperature of your baby’s room to make it a little warmer, or provide some comforting white noise in the form of a small fan. These are both excellent ideas to help your baby sleep. A fan in the room actually can decrease the risk of SIDS.

However, it’s important that neither fan nor heater be close to, or pointing at, your baby’s crib. Hot air from pointed into the open side of a crib will heat it like an oven, and your bundled-up baby might easily overheat. A fan pointed at your baby’s crib (or a ceiling fan) has the opposite effect.

Protect your newborn by ensuring these are not right next to your baby’s crib and that they’re pointed away from it.

Crib Danger #4: Someone who smokes

You’ve heard of second-hand smoke, right? It’s worse, in some ways, than smoking a cigarette because the second-hand smoke is unfiltered. The thing about smoke is that it lingers and settles in your hair, in your clothes, and on your skin. Afterwards, the smoke residue and its 100+ known carcinogens go where you go, including into your baby’s room.

This is called third-hand smoke and it’s a scientific fact. People who smoke or who have recently been in smoky places (bars, casinos) should not be allowed in the baby’s room and certainly not near the crib, where the residue can be absorbed by soft bedding. At the very least, you should offer a clean shirt and ask them to wash their hands before coming near your baby or his room.


Crib Danger #5: Electrical outlets and cords

Electrical outlet cover for baby

You should try to position your baby’s crib away from electrical outlets, especially those with active cords for lamps, night lights, or other devices. This is more of a danger for babies that move around and grab at things (usually after 6 months). The outlet itself is a shock hazard for tiny fingers. Electrical cords could be pulled into the crib and become a strangulation hazard.

Make sure any outlets near the crib are covered securely with plastic outlet covers. Devices that need to be plugged in should be as far away from the crib as possible. Lastly, don’t let a baby or (worse) a toddler see you remove an outlet cover and/or plug something in. They imitate the things their parents do, so don’t teach them that one!

See also our review of mini cribs and bassinets for recommendations of safe places for your baby to sleep.

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Baby sleep problems Periodic Table of Baby SLeep Train baby to sleep through the night Wireless VIdeo Baby Monitors
Baby sleep problems takes you through the most common sleep issues and how to address them. The periodic table of baby sleep has all the essential elements for healthy baby sleep habits. Visit our sleep training section for strategies and tips for teaching your baby to sleep through the night. Our video monitor reviews compare the latest cutting-edge wireless color video baby monitors.

Getting Baby to Sleep Through the Night

Get baby to sleep through nightGetting your baby to sleep through the night is a huge victory for parents. For most of us, it doesn’t come easy. It comes after weeks upon weeks of establishing sleep routines, figuring out your baby’s wants and needs, and trying lots of different strategies. You can and will get there. Here’s how to get started.
Table of Contents:

When do babies sleep through the night?
What does “through the night” mean?

Strategies to Get Through The Night
Setting a nightly routine
Feeding your baby at night
Dressing your baby for sleep
Setting the stage: Your baby’s room

Problems and Troubleshooting
Be prepared for any problem
When your baby wakes up at night
3 last tips for getting baby to sleep longer

When do babies sleep through the night?

It varies quite a bit between babies, but almost never before two months of age. Newborns have to eat every 4 hours or so, so even if they could go all night, they probably shouldn’t. Sorry, that’s part of having a baby! You’ll probably turn a corner at 3-4 months, when babies can sleep five hours or longer after a good feeding. See the baby sleep chart for more. Food is, in my opinion, the ultimate determinant of when babies start sleeping through the night. As soon as your baby can take, and hold, enough food to last for a long stretch, you can start working toward sleeping through the night.

What “through the night” means

You, as an adult, probably like to get 7-8 hours of good, uninterrupted sleep each night. When the baby comes, you’re lucky if you get 3 or 4 hours at a time. On the bright side, newborns sleep about 18 hours throughout the day, so when they sleep, you sleep to make up for those late nights. You should set milestones, based on your baby’s adjusted age, for the longest period of nighttime sleep:

Goals for baby to sleep through the night

By twelve months, your baby should be able to sleep 10-11 hours through the night without waking. Here’s what you’ll need to get there.

Setting A Nightly Routine

Choosing a nightly routine for your baby is critical to help him sleep through the night. The bath-bottle-bed routine is a classic example. Performing the same steps with your baby, in the same order, helps train them that it’s time for “the big sleep” at night. It also helps you remember to do everything that matters – change the diaper, put on the pajamas, swaddle, etc.

Solid foods mixed with cereal, as much as the baby will take.
Play Time
Bouncer, play yard, bumbo chair, and/or tummy time (not right after eating, though)
As often as possible. This really relaxes them.
As much as your baby will take, followed by a good burping.
Clean diaper, warm pajamas, full belly, swaddler, sound machine.
earths best baby vegetables Baby bath routine Dr. Brown's Bottles Arm's Reach Baby Bassinet

Even the best parents can forget a step; we’re all working on limited sleep, right? For a detailed guide on what your baby’s nightly routine should look like, see Establishing a Bedtime Routine.

Feeding Your Baby At Night

Baby formula at nightThe principal reason that babies wake up in the middle of the night is to eat. This is a powerful, biological urge that they can’t really control. For this reason, newborns less than 2 months of age typically can’t sleep more than 3-4 hours at a time. The hunger pangs are too strong. As your baby gets older, though, he’s able to take more food and (eventually) to take solids, which really seem to make a difference. Even before that time, there are steps you can take to help your baby sleep at night:

  • Save the formula for nighttime. If you supplement with infant formula, which is common, you may wish to do so in the evening or at night. I am not suggesting that you feed with formula instead of breast milk. We all know and appreciate the benefits of breast feeding. However: a lot of moms supplement breast milk with formula, either out of convenience or necessity. For these moms, I suggest favoring breast milk during the day (as it digests more quickly) and favoring formula at night. Or, offering a little bit of formula once the milk is exhausted at nighttime feedings. The goal is just to make sure that your baby has a full belly, which gives him or her a better chance at sleeping through the night.

    Baby vegetables for nighttime feeding

    Baby Vegetables

  • Solid food at dinner. As soon as your baby is allowed solid food, start offering it to him. You’ll probably be instructed to try single-grain cereal before baby food. It takes a while for babies to get the knack of it, but your efforts will pay off. Solid food makes a HUGE difference in keeping your baby satisfied. When your baby starts eating a container with a bit of cereal mixed in at dinner, you’ll see a big difference in nighttime sleep. See our article on 6 Tips for Starting Solid Food.
  • Thicken food with cereal. The single-grain cereal is a great thickener, and it helps your baby stay full for longer. You can mix it into runny baby foods, especially carrots, sweet potatoes, and most fruits, to make them more substantial. They also stick to the spoon better and make feeding less messy. Baby cereal is very nutritious, so don’t feel like you’re short-changing the baby’s diet.

About cereal in the bottle

As a rule, many pediatricians and nutritionists advise against adding cereal to bottles. They have convincing reasons for this. Realistically, this is a rule that is “broken” by many parents whose babies wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Whether or not you should try this is is up to you.

I am neither advocating it nor speaking out against it, but a little bit of cereal into the last bottle of the night can help a baby sleep longer. Not more than a teaspoon or two; it should still be liquid after you mix it. Be sure to use a level 2 or level 3 nipple and watch for clogs. This should not be the only way that your baby gets cereal. You still have to do the work of teaching him or her to eat with a spoon.

Whatever you use, make certain that you offer your baby all that he’ll take at the nighttime feeding. If he finishes a bottle and seems interested, offer another 2 ounces. Make sure to burp regularly, of course. The more you can get your baby to take, the longer he’ll be able to go without waking up.

For more help, see Nighttime Feeding and Sleep.

Dressing Your Baby to Sleep At Night

Ensuring that your baby is warm, safe, and secure will help him get a good night’s sleep. He or she may not tolerate a baby hat or mittens, but here are some other, more essential things.

  1. A fresh diaper. What A Newborn should wear to sleep through the nightEven if you changed it half an hour ago, put on a fresh one. Every bit of dryness counts. As soon as your baby’s big enough for a size 3-5 diaper, look into Huggies Overnites, which are extra absorbent and designed specifically to wick away moisture overnight. These things are lifesavers!
  2. Clean, soft pajamas. I prefer long-sleeve pajamas with footies. A little over-sized is okay, but never put a baby in pajamas that are too tight. Soft pajamas are not only more comfortable, but they’re a tactile clue that your baby will associate with sleeping at night. See our review of cute baby pajamas.
  3. Good swaddling. A well-executed swaddle will keep your baby warm and snug, but also acts as a safety measure because it prevents him from getting a limb caught in the crib. Such incidents aren’t usually life-threatening but they tend to evoke a screaming fit, so prevention is key. Learn how to swaddle a newborn and do it every night. If your baby kicks out of it, check out our review of sleep sacks and sleeping bags.

Setting the Stage: Your Baby’s Room

Periodic table of baby sleep through the night

Periodic Sleep Table

There are lots of things you can do in the baby’s room to make it a safe, comfortable environment that encourages long hours of sleep. You want to make your baby’s room and crib a place where he feels cozy and secure, a place where he knows it’s time to sleep.

This is why you shouldn’t play with your baby while he’s in his crib, no matter how cute he’s being. The crib is for sleep only. Here are some other tips that I’ve found useful in extending a baby’s ability to sleep through the night, most of which are also highlighted on the periodic table of baby sleep.

  • Consistent darkness. Unless you enjoy waking up at sunrise, invest in some good room-darkening shades for your baby’s window. Also, install a small lamp or baby night light, somewhere near the changer and away from the crib, to help you see while not over-stimulating the baby into wakefulness. See our review of baby night lights for some suggestions.
  • Quiet or white noise. When the baby goes to bed, try to keep the noise to a minimum. This probably isn’t possible if you have other children. We set up a small fan in the baby’s room by the door and turn it on when he goes to bed. This provides a nice, consistent white noise and has the added benefit of moving some air around in the room, keeping the temperature more consistent.
  • A wind-up or electric music box is an exception to the “quiet” rule: soft music can have a soothing effect at bedtime. You might try a soother or sound machine and see how it goes; some babies like them, some babies hate them. Make sure you have something that either winds up or has a shut-off timer, so you don’t have to go back in to turn it off. With luck, the music from it will be another cue that it’s time to go to bed and sleep through the night.
  • For safety reasons, your newborn’s bed should be clear of anything that could pose a hazard, including baby clothes, blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, and crib bumpers. Yes, crib bumpers. I know they’re cute, but they have been linked to infant injuries and deaths. I don’t know why they even make these any more.
  • If your baby has reflux or wakes up due to gas, you can try slightly elevating the head of your baby’s bed. Often this can be accomplished using the crib’s height settings, and lowering the “foot” of the bed one peg to create a slight incline. This puts gravity on your side and reduces spit-ups. You can also go the low-tech route and put a phone book under one side.

Baby sleeping at night

Be Prepared for Any Problem

Almost every problem that prevents your baby from sleeping through the night has a fix, and you should keep that solution close at hand. Before you put your baby to bed for the night, think about the common reasons babies wake up or won’t sleep and get everything prepared:

  • Have clean diapers out where you can reach them. Whether or not to change the diaper is a judgment call, since you risk waking the baby up even more, but if it’s soaked or dirty, you should do it. Have the new diapers unfolded with tabs at the ready.
  • Make sure the wipe warmer is stocked. I’m a big proponent of baby wipe warmers; not only do warm wipes help avoid stimulating the baby, they seem to reduce the number of times the baby pees on you.
  • Keep extra pacifiers in the bed and on tables in your room or the baby’s room. You can never have too many pacifiers, and they’re often hard to find at night. See our review of the best pacifiers.
  • Set out bottles with pre-measured formula, nipples, and a burp cloth. When they wake up hungry, babies want food NOW. Save time and minimize fumbling by having this stuff ready to go.
  • Make sure the rocking chair is clear so that you have a soft and safe place to take your baby for feeding or soothing.

With this arsenal to handle any problem, and the strategies outlined above, you’ll have your baby sleeping through the night better than ever before. Good luck!

When Your Baby Wakes Up At Night

Why baby won't sleep

Why Baby Won’t Sleep

No matter how perfect your preparation, there will still be the occasional wake-ups in the middle of the night. How to handle these is an area of contentious debate among sleep experts. In my own case, I don’t have the option of letting a baby fuss for long, because our twins share a room and are close to their 2-year-old sister.

Wake-ups are common, even among babies that routinely sleep through the night. You might not be doing anything wrong! To the left you’ll see a pie chart from my article on Why Baby Won’t Sleep depicting the most common reasons that babies have trouble sleeping. There are several possible causes, but when your baby wakes up, here are some response strategies that you should keep in mind:

  1. Respond quickly, but quietly. Don’t go barging in and throw on all the lights. Don’t say anything. The less you stimulate your baby, the better.
  2. Try soothing him in his bed first. Resist the urge to pick him up. At least half of the time, I can get a baby back to sleep by re-inserting the pacifier, tucking his blanket in, and shushing him with a soft voice. I’ve also had luck pushing down on the crib mattress (gently) near the baby to offer a little bit of vibration, almost like taking baby on a car ride.
  3. Find the problem, and fix it. If it’s clear that your baby is hungry, and you’re both up anyway, you might as well feed him. If he looks uncomfortable or squirmy, try burping him. If she looks frightened, hold her close and rock her.
  4. Leave the room as soon as the baby is settled. Don’t stick around to see if it worked, just leave the room and listen outside the door. That way, your baby won’t see you and think it’s time to be extra-cute and wake up.

For more help, see the in-depth article on How to Soothe Your Baby Back to Sleep.

Three Things to Try to Get Baby to Sleep Longer

If you’ve followed my advice so far, you’re a long way on the road to having your baby sleep through the night. There are three “sleep extending” strategies I haven’t touched on that might help your baby sleep longer and more consistently.

1. Bath before bed

Baby bath thermometer

Bath Thermometer

Babies seem to respond differently to baths – some love them, some hate them. I think that water temperature is key here. It should feel slightly warm to your touch, about 90 to 95 degrees. A baby bath thermometer helps. Splash some warm water on the seat or platform that holds your baby up right before he or she goes in – if these get wet and are exposed to air for a couple of minutes, they turn cold very quickly. Regardless of how much they enjoy the bath itself, 100% of my babies are more relaxed after a bath. They fall asleep easier and usually sleep for longer.

2. Early bed time

This is a strategy that you often hear about from sleep experts – the early bedtime. A lot of parents put their babies to bed for the night too late. It seems counter-intuitive, but often putting babies to bed earlier helps them sleep longer. For us, the right time was around 1-2 hours after dinner, around 8:00 or 8:30. Experiment with this and find the right time for your baby.

Aden + Anais Blankets

Aden + Anais Blankets

3. Hands free to soothe

This is for older babies, ones that are using their hands to grab and hold things. Try giving your baby a light-weight blanket, blankie, or extra-soft plush animal to hold at bedtime. Again, not for newborns. Technically, this is not in line with the current sleep safety guidelines so consider it carefully. If you decide to try it, experiment with a few different items. Our boys like the corner of a thin receiving blanket, specifically the legendary Aden+Anais blankets. The soft touch against their cheek soothes them to sleep, and often back to sleep if they wake up.

What To Read Next

Our complete guide to teaching healthy baby sleep habits is called Baby Sleep Training 101. If you like this article, you might want to subscribe by e-mail or RSS so that you’re notified when new content is posted.

Baby sleep problems Wireless VIdeo Baby Monitors Train baby to sleep through the night Essential Baby Sleep Gear
Baby sleep problems takes you through the most common sleep issues and how to address them. Our video monitor reviews compare the latest cutting-edge wireless color video baby monitors. Visit our sleep training section for strategies and tips for teaching your baby to sleep through the night. Check out our reviews of Essential baby gear for helping babies sleep at night.

Periodic Table of Baby Sleep

We’ve created this clickable periodic table of baby sleep with all of the elements — sleep essentials, good habits, common sleep problems, and safety concerns — to help your baby get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep Essentials Sleep Problems
Establish baby sleep routine Feeding to get baby to sleep Warm to get baby to sleep Reflux keeps baby awake Gas keeps baby awake Hungry baby wont sleep
Burp baby for sleep Quiet to get baby to sleep Comfort baby to sleep Get Sick baby to sleep Baby sleep diapers
Dark to get baby to sleep PERIODIC TABLE OF BABY SLEEP Get teething baby to sleep
Pacifier for baby sleep Nightlight for baby sleep Loose blanket baby sleep safety Smoker baby sleep safety
Swaddle baby to sleep White noise for baby sleep Cereal for baby sleep Overheating baby sleep safety Drugs baby sleep safety Cosleeping and baby sleep safety
Good Sleep Habits Safety Concerns


Essentials for Baby Sleep

These are the basic things that your baby needs to fall asleep. In dark blue are the basic necessities for putting baby to bed; in light blue are the things he’ll need to fall asleep quickly and consistently.

Establish sleep routine for baby Routine. Establishing a sleep schedule and nighttime routine for your baby is critical for good sleep habits. You’ve probably heard of bath-bottle-bed, a classic bedtime routine. Following the same steps at roughly the same time each night helps train your baby that it’s time to go to sleep.
Feeding baby at night Feeding. A full belly is one of the most important ingredients for success in baby sleep training. Simply put, the more food your baby has in his belly, the longer he’ll sleep. It’s all about the nighttime feeding. Solid foods, once your pediatrician OKs them, make a huge difference if you give them at the evening meal.
Burp a baby for sleep Burping. One of the most common reasons, if not the most common reason, that babies won’t go to sleep or wake up crying is from stomach gas. That’s why you have to burp a baby extensively before bed. Knowing some alternate burping techniques will help get stubborn burps out.
Quiet for baby sleep Quiet. This may seem rather obvious, but most infants sleep best in a quiet sleeping environment. White noise is fine, but random noises — from televisions, radios, siblings, or parents — will disrupt the rest and might wake your baby up for the night. Keeping things quiet can be especially difficult if you’re entertaining or traveling with your baby. Invest in a good baby sleep monitor to stay in tune with your baby overnight.
Comfort baby to sleep Comfort. This has two parts to it: choosing the right clothes and blanket(s) for your baby to sleep in, and comforting him at bedtime. You, as a caring parent who’s online reading about babies and sleep, probably do this last part pretty well. For help with the first, see What A Newborn Should Sleep In and check out our guide to cute baby pajamas.
Warm to get baby to sleep Warmth. Being nice and warm helps a baby sleep just as much as it helps an adult. Babies have a harder job of it, though, because they’re so little. A velcro swaddler or baby sleep sack will help keep your baby warm and snug overnight. See also How to Swaddle A Newborn.
Dark for baby sleep Dark. You can help your baby sleep through the night by promoting his natural circadian rhythms – make sure he gets light during the day when it’s play time, but goes to sleep in a dark or nearly-dark room, with at most a night light to see by.

Good Habits to Help Baby Sleep Longer

There are numerous sleep strategies that parents use to help their babies sleep longer and more deeply. Not all of these will work for every baby, but these are some things I recommend when you’re trying to get your baby to sleep through the night.

Pacifier for baby sleep Pacifier. The pacifier is a must-have for bedtime. You should have two or three backups readily at hand so that you can find one in the dark in the middle of the night. Many parents use the hospital-preferred Soothie, though pacifiers by MAM seem more comfortable for older babies. See The Best Baby Pacifiers for more recommendations.
Swaddle baby to sleep Swaddle. If you ever look through the window of a hospital nursery, you’ll notice that the nurses tend to swaddle a newborn under their care. Sometimes one-handed, too, which is impressive. Swaddling your baby mimics the warm snugness and comfort of the womb, while also providing a safe wrapping for your baby to sleep in. A baby sleep sack or sleeping bag does the same while allowing the legs some movement.
Night light for baby Night Light. This could be for your baby, to keep him entertained or distracted while he’s falling asleep in bed. More likely, though, it will be for the parents, to minimize the number of cracked knees and stubbed toes that inevitably result from bumbling around in the dark in baby’s room. See Choosing A Night Light for Baby for some recommendations.
White noise for baby White Noise. Something that provides a low, steady humming noise helps shield your baby from other noises that might wake it. Further, it forms part of the baby bedroom “environment” in which your baby becomes accustomed to sleeping. A fan is a good choice here, because it has the added benefit of circulating air around the room. Soothers and sound machines are also a comfort for many babies.
Baby cereal at night Cereal. As soon as your pediatrician approves it, get some single-grain cereal and start teaching your baby to eat it. Rice and oat cereals are good to start with. You can use cereal to thicken baby food (especially carrots, sweet potatoes, and most fruits). Give your baby cereal at the evening meal (or a bit with the bedtime bottle) and you’ll almost certainly notice him sleeping longer.

Common Baby Sleep Problems

When your baby cries in bed, or wakes up in the middle of the night, there are dozens of possible explanations. In my experience, though, a handful of the most common reasons explain 90% of the times that a baby won’t sleep.

Hungry baby wont sleep Hunger. In my opinion, this is the single most common reason that babies (1) refuse to go to sleep, or (2) wake up crying in the middle of the night. They’re growing all the time. They need food to do it. A good nighttime feeding strategy will help keep your baby’s tummy full overnight.
Gassy baby wont sleep Gassiness. Another major source of bedtime discomfort and baby waking up. Sometimes there’s not much you can do; infant digestive systems are still maturing and need some time to work the kinks out. Just be sure you know how to burp a baby thoroughly before bed, and be certain to do it every time.
Wet diaper wont sleep Diaper. A fresh, clean diaper is a must when putting your baby to bed. Babies with a wet or dirty diapers usually won’t even go to sleep, much less stay there. When your infant is a little bit older (say 3 months), look into the Huggies Overnites diapers. These wick away more moisture to keep your baby dry overnight. See our article on the Importance of Diapers for Sleeping.
Reflux baby wont sleep Reflux. Spitting up is a common problem with newborns, and especially frustrating around bedtime because (1) your baby messes up his pajamas, and (2) he’s just regurgitated the food he’ll need to sleep overnight. You can protect against this by keeping him upright (holding, bouncer, or Bumbo seat) for 20-30 minutes before bed. For more tips, see Handling Reflux or Colic.
Get A sick baby to sleep Sick. Even the best-trained babies have trouble sleeping when they’re sick. They feel icky, they’re congested, they can’t breathe, and they cough the pacifier right out. Getting A Sick Baby to Sleep takes extra patience and extra work, but it can be done.
Baby sleep while teething Teething. This is one of the reasons why baby won’t sleep that’s hard to diagnose. Sometimes your baby has a runny nose, or refuses to eat even though he seems hungry. My boys would suddenly wake up screaming, as if in pain. Luckily there’s a good solution for this problem: Baby Orajel.

Unsafe Sleep Practices

All of us have bad habits. When it comes to babies and sleep, however, your weak points can actually create a dangerous situation for your baby. Some of the most worrisome safety concerns warned about by the American Academy of Pediatrics are in orange and red.

Back to sleep cosleeping Co-sleeping, or sleeping in the same room with your baby is actually a recommended practice to help you monitor him overnight. A mini crib is ideal for this. Bed-sharing (letting the baby sleep in your bed), however, can be dangerous. This is a major risk for SIDS and you shouldn’t get into the habit. See Cosleeping with Baby for some advice. And check out the safe crib for co-sleeping.
Back to sleep smoking Smoking. Room-sharing and bed-sharing with someone who smokes increases a baby’s risk of SIDS, even if that person doesn’t smoke while in bed. The carcinogen-containing smoke particles cling to a smoker’s clothing, skin, and hair, and can still be transferred when he or she touches or goes near an infant. Quitting smoking is something you should try very hard to do. For you, and for baby.
Back to sleep safety overheat Overheating. With all of the flannel pajamas, swaddlers, and baby blankets, it is quite possible for your baby to overheat. The AAP recommends that your baby have, at most, one more layer of clothing on than an adult would need to feel comfortable. Some of the digital video baby monitors that we reviewed include remote temperature sensors for the nursery, which seems like a nice idea.
Back to sleep safety drugs Drugs and Alcohol. Parents taking prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs (you know what I mean), or alcohol can endanger their baby because these things make them (1) less responsive, (2) groggy and/or clumsy, and (3) poor in judgment. The risk of SIDS is even higher when parents also let the baby sleep in their bed.
Back to sleep safety loose blankets Loose Bedding. This is the danger that we all know about, and all of us eventually become guilty of. When you’re trying to get a baby to sleep and comforting him, it’s tempting to put a little stuffed animal or soft pillow or loose blanket in his crib. Be strong, and don’t do it. Your baby’s crib should only have one thing in it: the baby. Consider swaddling with an Aden+Anais blanket for extra comfort.

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How to Swaddle a Newborn

How to Swaddle A Newborn BabySwaddling a newborn baby is an essential skill for new parents. A swaddled infant will stay warmer, safer, and more comfortable in bed. Thus, it should help them sleep longer. Translation: more sleep for you. Here we’ll discuss some of the reasons for why you should swaddle your baby, how to swaddle a newborn, and when to stop swaddling.
Why Swaddle A Newborn?
How to Swaddle A Newborn
Newborn Swaddling Tips
When to Stop Swaddling

Why Swaddle A Newborn?

Newborn babies, having just left the womb, are a little frightened by their new world. Swaddling gives newborns a sense of the snug comfort they need to feel secure. There’s a reason that swaddling techniques are practiced by most hospital nurseries: Many newborns won’t sleep without it. Swaddling also keeps babies warm, especially their arms and legs, by keeping them close to the trunk of the body. Finally, swaddling is a safety measure for baby sleep; in fact, it’s the only safe way to keep a blanket in the crib.

How to Swaddle A Newborn

This step-by-step guide describes how to swaddle a newborn using a standard receiving blanket. You can and should master this technique. Do it right, and your newborn will never be cold at night!

Newborn swaddle blanket Before you begin: Choose a good blanket. A square or rectangular-shaped blanket, such as a receiving blanket, is best for this. The extremely popular Aden & Anais blankets are well-suited for this. Make sure that the blanket is big enough to perform all of the steps below; if you can’t tuck it securely, the swaddle won’t hold.
How to swaddle a newborn step one Step 1. Fold one corner down, making a triangle. You can make this a perfect triangle if the blanket is big enough; the point must extend far enough below baby’s feet that you can fold it up and reach the chin. If not, don’t fold the corner all the way to the other side (see image to the left).
How to swaddle a newborn step two Step 2. Add the baby. Your newborn’s neck should be over the edge of the fold that you just made or slightly above it so that the blanket stays away from the face.
How to swaddle a newborn step three Step 3. Fold over one corner and tuck under your baby. Which side you choose doesn’t matter, but be sure to tuck the corner so that it’s smooth and secure under your baby’s back. Not loose, and not scrunched up.
How to swaddle a newborn step four Step 4. Bring up the bottom corner. This is what separates swaddling from simply wrapping your baby up in a blanket. If your baby is a kicker, allow enough room for his legs to move so that he doesn’t kick out of the swaddle. The bottom edge should come up to your baby’s chin; if there’s extra reach, fold it over and around the first side-corner you folded in.
How to swaddle a newborn step five Step 5. Fold over the other side. This should be a nice, even fold, wrapping over the bottom-folded section and reaching the other side. You will tuck the extra bit under your baby’s back, so that his weight holds it in place.
How to swaddle a newborn step six Step 6. Your newborn is swaddled! Now you can feel free to feed him, rock him, or put him to bed. You’ll notice that I recommend keeping the newborn’s arms free, instead of wrapping them up. This bit of advice comes from the pediatric nurse who taught our baby class. She’s adamant that a baby’s arms should stay free, allowing a newborn to comfort himself.

Newborn Swaddling Tips

  • Use a relatively thin blanket of appropriate size. Due to the number of folds involved, swaddling doesn’t seem to work as well on blankets that are too thick or too large relative to the baby.
  • Start over, don’t salvage. If a fold was off, the newborn was positioned funny, or it just doesn’t seem to be working, start the swaddling over from the beginning. The result will be much better than a salvage job.
  • Practice swaddling a baby one-handed. Trust me, you’ll need to know how. You can watch nurses in the NICU or hospital nursery; they’re experts at this.
  • Try a velcro swaddle blanket. These things make swaddling much faster, and hold more securely in place around your newborn.

When to Stop Swaddling

Cute Sleep Sack for NewbornsAt some point, it will be time to stop swaddling your baby. You’ll probably realize this over time, as your baby gets too big to be swaddled with most blankets, and manages to kick out of them whenever you do it. If you bought a velcro swaddler, you’ll notice that it doesn’t fit them completely any more and only wraps around the lower half. This, incidentally, may be around the same time that your baby starts moving on his own and rolling over.

When you start seeing these signs, it’s probably time to replace the swaddler with a plain sleep sack, which I highly recommend. These are light fleece garments, with or without sleeves, that zip up in the front. They are very warm and comfortable; both of our twins are currently sleeping in them. For more, see our review of sleep sacks and sleeping bags.

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Back to Sleep Safety Guidelines

Baby sleep safety tipsBack To Sleep is a public education campaign started in 1994 to combat the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The central recommendation, the one for which the campaign was named, was that babies be put on their backs to sleep (not their stomach or side). This has been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS. Since the campaign began, SIDS death rates have dropped by 50% (see figure).

Sleep Safety Guidelines

In late 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released updated guidelines for promoting safe sleep for babies. These are recommendations made by pediatricians to reduce the risk of SIDS. Though their list is extensive (and backed up with a lot of research), I’ve boiled it down to the essential baby sleep safety tips.

Baby Death Rates Since Back To Sleep

Effect of the Back To Sleep Campaign

Put your baby on his or her back to sleep every time

Infants should be placed in a “supine” position — completely on their backs — to sleep. This should be done every time the baby goes to bed (including naps) and continued until 1 year of age.

Some parents worry that doing so increases the risk of choking, but this is not the case. Babies have protective airway mechanisms to prevent this. Even with babies that have reflux should be put on their backs to sleep.

Use a firm [flat] sleep surface

Ideally, a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet. The AAP recommends that a crib conforming to ASTM safety standards be used. Check to make sure that your crib or mattress hasn’t been recalled. The mattress should be sized to fit your baby’s crib (see our list of the best baby crib mattresses). Importantly, don’t put your baby in a crib with missing parts, and don’t try to fix a broken crib yourself.

Also, make sure the crib or bassinet is placed in a safe location, away from electrical cords, mini-blind cords, etc. (see our article on 5 dangers near your baby’s crib). Sitting devices, such as car seats, strollers, and swings, are not recommended for routine sleep. This is especially important for babies younger than 4 months of age, as partially-upright positions might cause their airway to become obstructed.

Sleep in the same room, but not the same bed, as your baby

Under no circumstances should your baby sleep in bed with you. Doing so exploses them to lots of suffocation and strangulation hazards, including pillows, loose blankets, sheets, and the bodies of the parents. This is a real danger. Also, it’s recommended that the mini crib or bassinet be put in the parents’ room near their bed so that they can monitor and comfort the baby overnight. There are now baby monitors that detect sound and movement to help you monitor your infant when you’re out of the room.

Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib

Your baby’s bed should have three things in it: a mattress, a fitted sheet, and the baby. No pillows, no soft cushy toys, no sheepskins, no loose bedding of any kind. It’s OK to swaddle or put him in a baby sleep sack, but loose blankets are not recommended. Crib bumpers and bumper pads should not be used. These increase the risk of suffocation, entrapment, and strangulation. Don’t worry that your baby will injure himself on the bars of the crib – he won’t. Throw those bumpers away.

Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime

Though the mechanism is unclear, the use of a pacifier is associated with reduced risk of SIDS. My personal suggestion is to keep two or three of your best baby pacifiers in the crib so that you can find one when you need it, even in the dark. The AAP says that you should put it in when you put the baby to bed, but you don’t need to re-insert it if the pacifier falls out while your baby is asleep; the protective effect continues even if the pacifier isn’t in the infant’s mouth. For breastfed babies, the pacifier should not be introduced until 3-4 weeks of age to avoid nipple confusion.

Soothie Baby Pacifier

Avoid Overheating the Baby

Your infant should be dressed appropriately for the environment, with no more than 1 layer of clothing on than an adult would wear comfortably. Check your baby for signs of overheating — perspiration or feeling hot to the touch — and address them immediately, even if the baby’s asleep. See also our guide to what a newborn should sleep in.

Breastfeed your baby

The AAP recommends that you breastfeed your baby, feeding only breast milk (directly or expressed) until 6 months of age. There is a protective effect against SIDS for breastfed babies. Exclusive breastfeeding is best, but some breastfeeding is better than none at all. If you’re having trouble, consider a quality breast pump so that you can store and feed expressed milk.

Safe baby breast pump
Medela Breast Pump

Do not use home breathing/heart rate monitors

This one surprised me. The AAP recommends against using home cardiorespiratory monitors, the kind that detect apnea (pauses in breathing while sleeping), brachycardia (heart rate drops) and/or blood hemoglobin oxygenation. There is no evidence that these decrease the incidence of SIDS.  While there may be some values for certain infants (preemies?), monitors should not be used routinely.

I did not see any specific recommendations against using a baby movement monitor like the Snuza Halo. See our review article for some good options.

You may have seen baby sleep positioners, crib ramps, or other products claiming to reduce the risk of SIDS. The AAP found no evidence that these were effective and recommends against them. For more, see my post on the myth of baby sleep positioners.

Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care

According to the AAP, there is “substantial evidence” that women who have prenatal care are less likely to have a baby that dies from SIDS.

Avoid smoke exposure during pregnancy and after birth

Smoking should absolutely be avoided by the mother, during pregnancy and after birth. Also, you should minimize your baby’s exposure to smoke from other people, including relatives and friends. Smoke lingers in hair and clothing; people who smoke should generally not be near (and certainly not holding) your baby. Also, smoking combined with co-sleeping creates a high risk for SIDS.

It’s just selfish to smoke around a baby.

Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth

Alcohol taken during pregnancy endangers a fetus. You should know this already. After birth, alcohol should be avoided because it impairs your judgment and dexterity, which could prevent you from caring for your infant. Alcohol and/or drug use in combination with co-sleeping creates a particularly high risk for SIDS.

My question to the AAP: shouldn’t illicit drug use be avoided at ALL times?

What To Read Next

Baby sleep problems Periodic Table of Baby SLeep Train baby to sleep through the night Essential Baby Sleep Gear
Baby sleep problems takes you through the most common sleep issues and how to address them. The periodic table of baby sleep has all the essential elements for healthy baby sleep habits. Visit our sleep training section for strategies and tips for teaching your baby to sleep through the night. Check out our reviews of Essential baby gear for helping babies sleep at night.