Helping Baby Sleep Longer

Helping baby sleep longerFor many of us, an hour of sleep can make all the difference in the world. This is especially true when you have a baby who’s been waking up every 3-4 hours for the last few months. At the newborn stage, there’s no avoiding it. Infants need to eat every 2-4 hours and they really shouldn’t sleep longer than 5 hours before around the age of 3 months. That’s just the joy (price) of bringing a newborn into the world.

Baby sleep, just like feeding and physical development, tends to progress in phases. Sometime between 3 and 6 months (adjusted age), your baby may start sleeping a bit longer. At least, he probably has the capability to do so in at least one sleep stretch. Ideally, that’s when you should be sleeping, too. Sometimes this isn’t possible because the timing is off; our own little ones seemed to favor the morning nap period. This is normal.

Let’s assume that your baby is at least 4-6 months old, follows something of a daily routine, and sleeps at least a few hours at night. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of, and offer some tips for, helping baby sleep longer.

Why Help Baby Sleep Longer?

Most parents we know really turn a corner when their little one goes for five or seven hours at night. They start showering regularly and looking less zombie-like during the day. Since you’re here, I probably don’t need to sell you on the idea of helping your baby sleep longer, but let’s talk about the benefits anyway.

  • Cognitive development. It’s during sleep that memories are made permanent, which is a big deal for an infant. Longer sleep periods are likely to help remember all the things they learned during the day.
  • Physical recuperation. For both baby and exhausted parent, the physical recovery that sleep offers is a must. Muscles rest, blood vessels are repaired.
  • Avoiding sickness. Scientific evidence suggests that the immune system is stronger while sleeping. It follows that more sleep can help prevent sickness. That’s a good thing, because helping a sick baby to sleep is even harder.

It goes without saying that when the baby sleeps longer, so do you. Thus you’ll reap all of the benefits above as well. According to a recent study on baby sleep intervention, baby sleep problems are linked to maternal depression and other long-term problems. There are plenty of good reasons to want to improve your baby’s sleep habits.

Tips for Helping Baby Sleep Longer

So what can you do to help your baby sleep longer? There are many things. All of these are (in my opinion) universally good baby sleep tips, but you might want to try one at a time, for at least 2-3 days, to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Try An Early Bedtime

This tip comes first because it’s really important. By setting an early bedtime, you encourage your little one’s sleep cycles to coincide with circadian rhythms. You also prevent over-tiredness from diminishing his sleep quality. For more benefits and some practical how-to advice, see our article on early bedtimes for baby.

Make Sure Baby’s Tummy Is Full

Your little one is always growing, and with that comes ever-growing nourishment requirements. In other words, your baby will keep eating more and more. His capacity to fill up will continually surprise you, so make sure that you’re giving him a full belly before bedtime! Once our boys started eating solid food (on the pediatrician’s advice), we began offering them a small bowl of cereal just before the bedtime bottle. Fill that little belly with warm, nourishing food and your little one will have the “slow burn” to sleep longer at night.

Use A Nighttime Diaper

If you’re not using an overnight diaper for your little one, I have great news for you. This is probably the simplest sure-fire way to help the baby sleep longer at night. I’ve written an entire article on why diapers are important for baby sleep. Nighttime diapers are super-absorbent — probably three times as much as a normal diaper can handle — which means your baby’s bottom will stay drier for longer. That means more sleep for the both of you!

Dress Baby for Comfort

Along the same lines, dressing your baby comfortably (and appropriately) for sleep is essential. A clean set of soft pajamas (long sleeve unless it’s summer time) will help accomplish this. True, you can often put a baby to sleep in whatever they happen to be wearing, but a good set of sleepwear ensures warmth and comfort that might help go the extra mile. See our reviews of the cutest baby pajamas and sleep sets.

Prevent Early Wake-Ups

This past fall, we noticed one of our boys was waking up about an hour earlier than usual. We couldn’t figure out out! None of the other tips above seemed to help. Finally we realized that due to the daylight savings time change, sunrise came an hour earlier and sunlight poked in around the room-darkening shade, right onto our boy’s face. Another time we found that a child’s digital watch had an alarm that went off in the middle of the night. We’ve also had problems with barking dogs and noisy neighbors.

If you can find causes of early wake-ups like these and eliminate them, your baby is going to sleep longer. See our article on 7 reasons your baby woke up last night.

Baby Exercise During the Day

I saved my last tip for last, because this is probably the most fun way to help your baby sleep longer. It’s simple, too: wear him out during the day. Ever notice how a morning spent playing outside has your little one has him sleeping soundly for the rest of the afternoon? It works great playing in spring, summer, fall, or even winter. If going outdoors isn’t feasible, a high-energy indoor activity can do the trick. See our reviews of jumpers and activity gyms for some great toys for baby exercise.

With a little work, you can extend your baby’s sleeping hours, and reap all of the benefits by doing so. Good luck!

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

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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.

Top Baby Sleep Articles of 2012

baby sleeping articles

Make this your New Year’s resolution

It’s a new year, and the perfect time to take some steps to improve your baby’s sleep habits. Wouldn’t you like to see your baby sleeping through the night this year, or taking more regular naps, or going to bed without a fuss?

If that’s one of your New Year’s resolutions, check out our 10 most popular baby sleep training articles from 2012:

Our 10 Most-Read Baby Sleep Training Articles

  1. 8 Baby Sleep Habits to Avoid – Our most popular article of all time covers some of the “bad practices” – convenient habits now that eventually cause problems with getting babies to sleep through the night consistently.
  2. 21 Baby Sleep Tips – A collection of our favorite tips for establishing healthy baby sleep habits, from daytime preparation and setting up the nursery to dressing your little one for bed and handling common sleep problems.
  3. Get Baby to Sleep Through the Night – Our comprehensive guide, designed for parents of infants 3 months and older who want to help their babies learn to sleep through the night consistently.
  4. Benefits of an Early Bedtime – This article covers one of the most surprising and effective practices for baby sleep training, implementing an early bedtime, and how it encourages little ones to sleep through the night.
  5. Handling Baby Sleep Problems – Help for the many common sleep problems that keep babies (and their parents) from getting a good night’s sleep.
  6. Why Baby Won’t Sleep That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Here we go through common reasons that babies refuse to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night.
  7. One Week to Better Baby Sleep Habits A complete program to wean your baby from that middle-of-the-night feeding in just seven days.
  8. Nighttime Feeding and Sleep – There’s an important connection between evening and nighttime feedings and how long a baby sleeps at night. Here we tell you how to capitalize on it.
  9. 5 Things To Do When Gas Keeps Your Baby Awake – When babies have trouble falling asleep or wake up due to digestive discomfort, gas is often the culprit. Here are five things to do for it.
  10. Get Baby to Sleep in the Crib – Though an essential habit for babies learning to fall asleep on their own and sleep safely, getting a baby to sleep in the crib isn’t always easy. Here’s how and why you should encourage it.

Top Product Reviews of 2012

As reluctant as I am to admit it, sometimes you can solve a baby sleep problem by throwing money at it. For that reason we’ve gone out and reviewed a number of baby products to find those with the features (and customer ratings) that we love. Here were the most-read product reviews on our site last year:

Best Baby pacifier reviews #1. Best Baby Pacifiers
Our guide to the best baby pacifiers for newborns and teething babies.
Wireless Video Monitor Reviews #2. Wireless Video Monitor Reviews
Reviews of the latest video wireless baby monitors. One even transmits to your iPhone!
Choosing Night Light for Baby #3. Projection Night Lights
Keep your baby entertained while in the crib and help soothe him back to sleep.
Mini Crib Reviews #4. Mini Crib Reviews
Our detailed comparisons of bassinets and mini cribs for snug, safe sleeping.
Baby Ergo Carrier Reviews #5. Baby Carrier Reviews
The best of Baby Bjorn, Chicco, Ergo baby, and other hands-free baby carriers.

Keeping Baby Jolly Over the Holidays

Holiday baby survival

Credit: BabyCenter Community

The holidays are a very different experience when you have a baby in the house. Gone are those days when you simply showed up in relatives’ houses, ate, drank, and made merry without a care in the world. Now you have to pack extra diapers and hand sanitizer, and (in my case) spend most of your time making sure your toddlers don’t destroy a relative’s home. Keeping your baby happy, healthy, and on a good sleep schedule is especially challenging over the holiday season. Here are some tips to help make sure all of your holidays are jolly.

Taking Baby Out in Public

It takes a certain amount of courage to face the holiday crowds with a baby in tow, but sometimes it’s necessary. Here are some tips for braving the sea of humanity at malls and stores and other crowded places.

  • Hand sanitizer. It seems like such a basic thing, but you can never have enough of this stuff. You’ll touch things and your baby might touch things too. Remember that every piece of merchandise was probably hand-stocked by a clerk and handled by other customers too. It’s also good for when strangers come up and touch your baby’s hands.
  • No touch! Speaking of which, be prepared for the dual effect that a baby and the holiday season can have on people. Total strangers will come up and tickle your baby’s foot, hold his hand, or touch his face. If you can prevent this bodily or with a quick [kind] word, do so. I like to say “Ooh, he’s just getting over a cold.” That usually has people keep their hands to themselves.
  • Use stroller or car seat canopies or a blanket to protect your baby. These help keep out chills, sneezes, and over-curious strangers. I recently was on a trip and saw a couple with a newborn drape a lightweight Aden+Anais blanket over their baby’s car seat/stroller.

See also our article on traveling with infants for more good advice on taking your baby out in public!

Visiting Friends and Relatives

Few times are better than the holiday season to show off your cute little baby to family and friends. That said, holiday gatherings bring new sources of concern when you’re taking a baby along. You have to watch out for hazards, especially in rooms that aren’t babyproofed. You have to keep the baby fed and entertained. And you have to avoid germs as much as possible. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Prep and pack in advance. Remember to bring diapers, a change of clothes, a bottle or sippy cup, a pacifier on a clip. If the party will go late, bringing pajamas and a nighttime diaper isn’t a bad idea.
  • Bring your own stuff and keep track of it. Especially things like sippy cups and pacifiers, which tend to be grabbed by any toddler who sees them. It’s better to keep your child’s sippy cup with you on the table, and let him or her come by for a drink.
  • Watch for babyproofing hazards. Unsecured furniture, fragile decorations, places to fall, and sharp objects are just some of the things your little one might encounter in a house that’s not babyproofed.
  • Preheat the car. This is such a little thing, but it makes babies much happier and cozier when you have the car all warmed up by the time they’re loaded. Also, the first thing we do when we get in the car is hand-sanitize all the babies’ hands. God knows what they touched when you weren’t looking.

Maintaining Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule

One down side to the holidays is that they can wreak havoc on your baby’s sleep schedule.

  • Arrive on time, leave early. You’ll notice that most parents with small children scoot out of a party at around 7 or 8:00 because that’s when babies and small children generally go to bed. These are the “veterans” who understand that a good night’s sleep for the baby pays far more dividends than another cocktail or smoked sausage.
  • Plan for naps. If you have an engagement that would normally be in the middle of your baby’s sleepy time, try to get the day started early so that the nap can be going on. Or, if you’re having people over, just let the little ones sleep and wake up when it’s time (as unrealistic as that may be when you get a houseful). See also our answers to common baby nap questions.
  • Encourage sleeping in the car. Comfy clothes, clean diaper, pacifier, and sometimes a soft blankie will encourage your little one to snooze in the car on the way to and from places. Those little half hour naps can make a difference!
Last but not least, make sure you have fun and take lots of pictures over the holidays with your cute baby! He or she will never be this little again, and the memories will last a long, long time.


9 Songs for Baby Sleep

Baby sleep songs

Babies love lullabies!

Parents have been singing their babies to sleep for time eternal. It’s a simple, soothing, and often under-appreciated technique to get your baby ready for bed. We’ve recently been singing lullabies as we dress our twins for bed since they’re toddlers now and often fight going to sleep. I went out and collected some of our favorite lullaby lyrics to give you 9 songs to help baby go to sleep:

  1. Rock-a-bye Baby
  2. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
  3. Hush, Little Baby
  4. Somewhere Over the Rainbow
  5. Frère Jacques
  6. Brahms’s Lullaby
  7. Sleep, Baby, Sleep
  8. All Through The Night
  9. All the Pretty Horses


Rock-a-bye Baby

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all


Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Baby sleep songs on CD

Lullaby Classics – 17 tracks from classic composers played by the Baby Einstein Orchestra. Great for baby’s bedtime.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are


Hush, Little Baby

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word.
Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird won’t sing,
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring

And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass

And if that looking glass gets broke,
Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat

And if that billy goat won’t pull,
Papa’s gonna buy you a cart and bull

And if that cart and bull turn over,
Papa’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover

And if that dog named Rover won’t bark
Papa’s gonna buy you a horse and cart

And if that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.


Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby

Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why, can’t I?


Frère Jacques

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong.

English Version:
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping?
Brother John, Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong.


Brahms’s Lullaby

Lullaby and goodnight, with roses bedight
With lilies o’er spread is baby’s wee bed
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed
Lullaby and goodnight, thy mother’s delight
Bright angels beside my darling abide
They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast
They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast


Sleep, Baby, Sleep

Sleep, baby, sleep
Your father tends the sheep
Your mother shakes the dreamland tree
And from it fall sweet dreams for thee
Sleep, baby, sleep
Sleep, baby, sleep

Sleep, baby, sleep
Our cottage vale is deep
The little lamb is on the green
With snowy fleece so soft and clean
Sleep, baby, sleep
Sleep, baby, sleep


All Through The Night

Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee,
All through the night;
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night;

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loving vigil keeping,
All through the night.

While the moon her watch is keeping,
All through the night;
While the weary world is sleeping,
All through the night.


All the Pretty Horses

Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleep my little baby.
When you wake you shall have
All the pretty little horses.
Black and bays, dapples, grays,
All the pretty little horses.

Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleep my little baby.
Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleep my little baby.
When you wake you shall have
All the pretty little horses.

Thanks To…

Special thanks to the good folks at BabyCenter for their Primer on Lullaby Lyrics, which provided some of the hard-to-find lullabies here.

7 Steps to the Perfect Baby Bath

Baby bath tub

Twins in inflatable bathtub

One of the best techniques for helping your baby prepare for bed at night is a nice, warm, relaxing bath. There’s just something about the soothing comfort of the water, the brief chill of drying off, and then the unparalleled feel of dressing in warm pajamas. It’s why the bath-bottle-bed sequence is one of the most classic and effective bedtime routines for baby sleep training.

Getting the bath just right will help prepare your little one for bed. It’s not just about getting your baby clean… a good bath should be fun and relaxing for both of you! Here are seven steps to getting it right.

1. Use a Baby Bath Seat or Bathtub

First things first, set up a bath seat or small bathtub for your baby. These are much easier to use and safer when bathing infants. They have soft sides, they don’t take nearly as much water, and they’re far more colorful and inviting to your little one. Most baby bathtubs also provide crucial sitting support that your baby will need until he or she can sit independently.

Infant bath seat Pink sparkles bathtub Inflatable baby bath tub
Primo Infant Bath Seat
For small infants up to 18 pounds and 28″ long, this infant bath seat made of non-toxic resin provides comfortable support for bathing them in a bathtub or even a large sink.
Fisher-Price Pink Sparkles Bath Tub
Here’s a fun baby bathtub for girls: it has sling supports for infants, and a “baby stopper” for when they get bigger.
Munchkin Safe Inflatable Tub
This inflatable ducky bathtub gets crazy-good reviews and has a white-hot water temp warning disc.

2. Get Comfortable at the Bathtub

A baby bath won’t be very pleasant if either you or the munchkin are uncomfortable. Sadly, this is often the case when you have to kneel on a hard bathroom floor. A few things can solve that: a soft bath sponge for the inside of the tub, and a thick bath mat or kneeler on the outside for you. Also, a non-slip mat will help keep your baby bathtub from sliding around in the tub.

Baby bath sponge Baby bath mat Froggie Baby Bath Mat
Summer Comfy BathSponge
A soft, contoured sponge that cradles your newborn in the bathtub.
Clevamama Mat and Kneeler
An extra-long nonslip mat that would accommodate two babies at once, and a soft kneeling pad for your old bones.
Mommy’s Helper Froggie Bath Mat
A fun, nonslip bath mat for the tub or sink to go under your baby’s bath sponge or tub.

3. Get the Water Just Right

I’ve occasionally made the mistake of getting the water temperature wrong, and frankly the best thing you can do is dump it out and start it over. The correct (and safe) temperature for a baby’s bath is around 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit. That should feel slightly warm to the touch, but certainly not hot. Usually it’s best to fill the tub and check the temperature before you’re holding a naked baby — the running faucet can be scary to little ones, and also might be prone to sudden temperature changes.

Baby Bath Spout Cover Baby bath thermometer
Skip Hop Bath Spout Cover
This BPA-free rubber spout cover protects your little one from the metal spout and adds fun to bath time and fits most spout models.
Turtlemeter Floating Bathtub Thermometer
This floating water-activated “turtlemeter” lets you monitor the bathwater to get just the right temperature.

4. Wash with Gentle Soap and Washcloths

I like to mix about a couple of teaspoons of baby wash into the running water while the tub is filling. In addition to giving your baby a good soak (which does wonders for the diaper area), be sure to wash every nook and cranny with a soft baby washcloth. This becomes especially important once your baby starts eating solid food, which tends to get all over them (and you, for that matter).

Johnsons Baby wash Aveeno Baby Wash Aden ANais Baby Wash Cloths
Johnson’s Head To Toe Baby Wash
The old standby of baby baths since I was an infant is from Johnson’s, a soft, tear-free, faintly scented baby wash.
Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo
I love the oat-based products from Aveeno; their tear-free wash and shampoo makes baby skin even softer.
aden + anais 3 Pack Muslin Washcloths
As my readers know I’m crazy for the Aden+Anais swaddle blankets, so I was thrilled to see they make washcloths of the same super-soft muslin.

5. Bath Time is Play Time

Once your little one is all cleaned off, let him or her enjoy playing with the bubbles and water and (ideally) some colorful bath toys. You want to make the bath a “fun time” rather than a chore. Our boys’ favorite bath time toys include:

  • Boats and rubber duckies of various sizes
  • Play cups and buckets for pouring
  • Squeezable water animals that fill up with water
  • Bath blocks that stack and float

We also try to let them take the washcloth too and practice washing with it.

6. Get Dry and Warm with Baby Towel and Bathrobe

You’ll want to have at least one hooded baby towel within reach to get your baby dried off. Make it quick and wrap them up to keep warm while you carry them back to the nursery. A little terry cloth robe with hood is a cuddly and adorable way to make this journey. You can add to the spa experience by rubbing baby’s legs and trunk down with some baby lotion (most babies either love or hate this).

Hooded baby bath towel and washcloths Terry baby bath robe Owl baby bathrobe
Spasilk Hooded Terry Bath Towel
Hooded bath towels like this one (100% cotton) are great to warm baby’s head and get him or her dried off. Comes with 4 matching terry washloths.
Velour Hooded Bath Bag
Newborns get cold easily, so here’s a great way to keep them warm on the journey back to the diaper changer.
Little Night Owl Hooded Robe
How cute is this Baby Aspen terry cloth robe to keep your little owl warm after bath time?

Cute baby taking bath7. The Closer: Clean Diaper, Warm Pajamas, Bottle, and Bed

Once you’ve completed the bath and dried your little one off, get him or her dressed in an overnight diaper and some clean, soft pajamas. Something about this whole process usually makes them ready to drink a good bottle of warm milk or formula. Or to nurse. Fill that belly, then burp, and don’t delay in putting your little one in the crib for a long sleep. This is a proven bedtime routine, and you can hope for a wonderfully uninterrupted stretch of sleep afterward.

Learn to Love the Baby Bath

Enjoy your baby’s bath! Tickle their cute little bottom, splash and play with them, enjoy their floofy hair the next day. Blow bubbles. When they’re old enough, you can even show your babies how to put baby shampoo in their hair. Just don’t let them drink the bath water. It varies from baby to baby, but all of them eventually try to drink the bath water (or suck it out of the washcloth). Yech!

It may seem like a chore, but you should cherish every moment of a baby bath. They’ll never be this little again!

Baby Sleep Training: Benefit or Harm?

sleep training benefits or harms

Establishing healthy sleep habits for your baby has many potential benefits, the most immediate of which is more sleep for the both of you at night. No one’s disputing the idea that a baby sleeping through the night (at the appropriate age) is a good thing. It’s just that getting there can be emotionally taxing on both the baby and the parents.

Beneficial or Harmful?

Some parents worry that baby sleep training techniques — especially those where some crying may be involved — might have emotional or physical consequences on the baby, the parents, or their relationship. Most of these concerns originated with pure extinction methods, better known as cry-it-out (CIO). This method “is not usually recommended nowadays because of the distress it causes parents and infants.”

However, the concerns were extended even to current best practices for baby sleep training.

The focus of the debate seems to be the possibility of long-term harms from baby sleep training, but less attention has been paid to the potential long-term benefits it offers. It’s quite possible that there are benefits to both maternal and child health that may extend well beyond the 3-year follow-up. 

The Infant Sleep Study

Now the benefits and harms of baby sleep training have been evaluated in a scientific setting. A new study in the top journal Pediatrics performed a randomized research trial to evaluate the long-term benefits, and possible harm, of baby sleep training intervention. The background information on the study is both sobering:

  • 45% of mothers report sleep problems for babies between the ages of 6 and 12 months
  • Infant sleep problems double the risk of maternal depression symptoms
  • Sleep-related health issues are costly to families and healthcare systems

Baby Sleep Training Techniques

The good news is that most infant sleep problems, as the authors put it, “are readily treatable.” For babies 6 months of age and older, proven sleep training techniques such as controlled comforting help infants learn to self-soothe and to sleep independently. From 2003 to 2005, Hiscock and colleagues conducted the Infant Sleep Study, an effort to improve infant sleep problems at age 8-10 months. It was a large, community-based trial emphasizing positive bedtime routines and one of two baby sleep training techniques:

  1. Controlled comforting, in which parents respond to their infant’s crying at longer and longer intervals. This teaches the baby to self-soothe gradually, rather than going cold turkey with cry-it-out.
  2. Camping out, in which a parent sits with the child as they learn to fall asleep independently, and slowly removes herself or himself from the room.

And baby sleep training is effective.A systematic survey of behavioral intervention for baby sleep problems found that:

  1. 49 of 52 programs (94.2%) were successful, measured as clinically significant reductions in bedtime resistance and night waking 3 to 6 months later.
  2. Sleep training had numerous clear secondary benefits, including better parent sleep, mental health, and child-parent relationships.
  3. No studies found evidence of detrimental effects, including follow-ups as long as 3 years later.

The results of the study were compelling: parents who did intervention reported fewer sleep problems at age 10 months, and the mothers were less likely to have suffered depression at 2 years. In other words, sleep training was clearly effective in both establishing healthy sleep habits and preserving mom’s mental health.

Long-term Effects

As a follow-up to their study, the authors went back in 2009 when the infants were 6 years of age. They looked to see if there was evidence of intervention versus control group families in:

  • Child emotional and conduct behavior
  • Sleep patterns, stress levels, and psychosocial functioning
  • Child-parent relationships, closeness, and attachment
  • Maternal mental health in terms of depression, anxiety, and stress
Among the 265 families that participated, there were no significant differences in any category between the intervention group and the control group. In other words, behavioral sleep techniques had no long-term effects on children or their parents.
So parents and health professionals can confidently use baby sleep training intervention to address infant sleep problems. In fact, the authors note that “Teaching parents to regulate their children’s sleep behavior is a form of limit setting that, combined with parental warmth, constitutes the optimal, authoritative parenting style for child outcomes.”


21 Baby Sleep Tips

21 Baby Sleep TipsSo, you’re interested in improving your baby’s sleep habits, and teaching him or her to sleep through the night? This page is a great starting point. On it, I’ve collected 21 of my best “baby sleep” tips, with links to more detailed articles. Read and enjoy!

1. Put in the hard work. Some babies are great sleepers. Many are not, but have the potential. Of course they’ll learn to sleep through the night eventually, but if you want that to happen sooner rather than later, it’s going to take some work. That’s what baby sleep training is all about.

2. Try the early bedtime. It’s a surprising but widely accepted fact that putting a baby to bed earlier often helps him sleep later. For our boys, bedtime is around 7:30 p.m., perhaps half an hour after dinner. That’s what setting an early bedtime means. Not 9:00, but closer to 7:00.

3. Find a routine and stick to it. This is easier than it sounds: figure out the steps you need to get your baby to bed, and make a habit of them. Same order, same time, every night. This consistency is a critical part of baby sleep training.

Daytime Preparation

4. Babies need exercise. Just like an adult, a baby who gets no exercise or stimulation during the day may not be tired come bedtime. Daytime is playtime. That’s what jumpers and activity gyms are for, right? When your baby starts learning to crawl or walk, they’ll usually get enough exercise on their own.

5. Offer a good dinner. If your baby is taking single-grain cereal and/or solid food, make sure he or she eats a good, filling dinner. If you find your baby waking up hungry in the night (and needing a bottle), try offering a little bowl of cereal 20 minutes before bedtime. This often provides the slow burn to help your baby go for longer. And nursing or a warm bottle of milk is the perfect way to top it off.

6. Give your baby a bath. A quick, warm bath is a natural soothing experience for your baby, especially drying off with a fluffy towel and then being dressed in some warm pajamas.

Setting the Sleep Stage: Your Baby’s Room

7. Darkness is key. Make sure that the nursery or bedroom where your baby sleeps is totally dark — with the possible exception of a night light — and pay special attention to blocking out the early morning sun. Sunlight is a natural wake-up signal; using room-darkening shades and curtains to block it out will help your baby sleep past, you know, dawn.

8. Provide some white noise. A sound machine or small fan in your baby’s room will provide a soothing hum of background noise. This has the added benefit of drowning out other noises — siblings crying, inconsiderate neighbors mowing the lawn, and the like — that might otherwise wake your baby up early.

9. Break out the pacifiers. We stock up on the best pacifiers whenever we can, hoping that there’s always one to be had come bedtime. I don’t bother trying to put a baby to bed without it.

Crib Sleeping

10. Put baby to sleep in the crib. There is no safer and better place for your baby to fall asleep than his or her own crib. It’s so tempting to snuggle them in your own bed or let them konk out on the couch. But making the crib part of the nightly routine will help your baby sleep more consistently.

11. Think crib safety. While we’re on the topic, ensure that your crib is a safe place by making sure it’s not on recall, that it’s assembled correctly (with all bolts tightened), and does NOT have crib bumpers. Keep it at least 2 feet away from electrical outlets, cords, curtains, or other shock/strangulation hazards. And never put the crib near, or in the direct line of, a heater or air conditioning vent.

12. Make the crib fun. Safety concerns aside, your crib doesn’t have to be a stark and cold place. Make it warm and inviting. Get the cute bed set (but toss or repurpose the bumpers). Pick out your favorite baby crib mobile. Make it so your baby likes the crib.

Dress Your Baby for Bed

13. Use nighttime diapers. Getting your baby dressed for bed starts with a fresh clean diaper. Ideally, one of the thicker overnight diapers, such as Huggies Overnites, that are designed to last 8-10 hours or more. These things can absorb A LOT. They cost more, but they’re worth it.

14. Put on soft, comfy pajamas. Don’t let your baby go to sleep in daytime clothes. They make cute pajamas and sleeper sets for babies. These soft little outfits aren’t just for keeping your baby warm – they’re a comforting, tactile signal that it’s time to go to sleep for the night.

15. Use a swaddle or sleep sack. Swaddling your newborn provides a snug comfort not unlike being in the womb. There’s a reason they use swaddling in the NICU – it makes babies go right to sleep. Once they’re too old for swaddling, a sleep sack or sleeping bag will serve the same purpose while providing the legs a bit of room to move.

Get Involved with Baby’s Sleep Habits

baby blankets on etsy

Winter is coming! Love the hand-sewn baby blankets on Etsy

16. Read books at bedtime. Reading a book or telling a story to your baby at bedtime is a great way to relax, spend some quality time, and mentally prepare your baby for bed. Ever notice how most of your favorite baby books end with the characters going for bed?

17. Monitor your baby’s sleep. Use a good baby monitor to listen for fussing or wake-ups. I really like the video baby monitors because they let you watch your baby (with night vision cameras), check the nursery temperature, and even have 2-way communication so you can talk to your baby.

18. Practice soothing techniques. On a related note, learn and practice the soothing techniques that work for your baby. Rocking, singing, speaking softly, and reinserting the pacifier are classics. Try everything, and remember what works.

Handling Baby Sleep Problems

19. Help your baby with gas. Babies, especially newborns, have digestive systems that aren’t well prepared to handle digestive gas. It’s why you have to burp them, and possibly why they suddenly have bouts of fussiness with no apparent reason. There are at least 5 things you can do if your baby has gas, and you should really make an effort on this front before bedtime.

20. Watch out for and address teething. Sometime between the ages of three and eight months, your baby will start having teeth come in. This can be a painful, almost torturous process for some babies. Still, there are ways to help a teething baby so that they can still get a good night’s sleep.

21. Break bad habits. I’m saving my hardest bit of advice for last. You know what your “bad” baby sleep habits are – the shortcuts, the things you know you shouldn’t do (or should do, but don’t). Letting your baby sleep in the swing because it’s easier. Leaving him or her in the outfit they fell asleep in. Keeping your baby up late so you can enjoy all the cuteness. It’s not an easy thing, but you’ll have to break or avoid bad baby sleep habits if you want the ultimate outcome: a baby that consistently sleeps through the night.

What To Read Next

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Best Baby Mobiles Baby won't sleep Sick Baby medicine cabinet baby bedtime routine
The best crib mobiles in musical, black/white, and organic categories. If your baby baby won’t sleep, this guide will help you diagnose and fix the problem. With cold and flu season approaching, here are 14 things for baby’s medicine cabinet. Establishing a bedtime routine is a critical for teaching babies to sleep through the night

5 Reasons to Read to Your Baby at Bedtime

Read to babyOne thing I wish that I did more was read to my kids at bedtime. We used to do it every night with our daughter. Now she wants a story instead of a book. Her twin brothers don’t get a book very often, but when they do, they love it. They enjoy the one-on-one attention from mom or dad. And why not? There are at least 5 great reasons to read to your baby at bedtime:

1. Learning. You know, from books.

There are all manner of baby books featuring letters, colors, numbers, and other basic elements of learning. Your baby will love the bright colors and vivid images. And baby books have changed since we were little. There are things to feel, squeeze, lift up, and otherwise get your kid engaged in the book.

Even so, many of our favorite bedtime baby books are the classics, like Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and I Am A Bunny illustrated by Richard Scarry. We find ourselves reading them again and again, enough that my daughter can tell the story about as well as I can read it. She remembers things from books and stories and repeats them back to us later.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your baby learn more from books and less from Dora the Explorer? Reading is a good habit that we, as a society, should promote more with our children, who will grow up surrounded by television, video games, and iPads.


2. Quiet baby bonding moments.

In the chaos of parenting small children, reading books is one of the quietest, calmest moments you’ll experience outside of nap time. And once you get your baby engaged in book reading, they’ll be totally on board. You can dim the lights a little and pick a super-comfy chair to rock in.

The little cooing noises they make, the way they touch things in the book and help you turn the pages… those are the moments to appreciate what an adorable and lovable little baby you have. Good times to remember the next time they have a meltdown or a blowout diaper. It’s a wonderful tradition to start early, because when they’re independent 2- or 3-year-olds, this is about the only time you can get them to sit on your lap and remain still.

3. A break for your spouse.

Often we’ll both go into the baby’s room and take turns reading books. Or we’ll just lay and listen, and watch the babies’ cute reactions. Sometimes, though, it’s OK to pass the parenting baton and take a little break. One of us gets to enjoy this moment of freedom, and the other gets to spend some time bonding with a cute little one. It’s a win-win.

The off-parent can throw in a load of laundry, or have a snack, or enjoy five minutes in the bathroom without little hands beating at the door. Sometimes I just lay on the floor because, let’s be honest, raising little kids can be exhausting. Go ahead, you’ve earned it!


4. Make some memories.

It’s no accident that some of my favorite books to read to the babies are ones from my own childhood. There’s a certain magic to reading them a book that, decades ago, your parents or grandparents read to you. The classic baby books have stood the test of time for a reason. We also enjoy reading holiday-themed books, starting a few weeks prior to major holidays (Christmas and Halloween are favorite), to add variety and start building some excitement.

Be sure to try a variety of books. Your babies might like them, and might not. They’ll have their own favorites to add. If and when they can talk, they’ll probably ask you for certain books again and again. It’s one of the first ways that our daughter started expressing her own will, and it was entertaining to witness.


Brother reading to baby

Reading to Baby (Flickr: 4Neus)

5. Get the baby ready for sleep.

I’d be remiss not to mention one of the all-time best parts about reading books to your baby at bedtime: getting your baby ready to go to sleep through the night. There are lots of reasons this works so well:

  • It’s a quiet stretch in a comfy place (your lap)
  • Your warmth and voice are naturally soothing to the baby
  • It becomes part of the bedtime routine

Have you noticed just how many baby bedtime books end with the characters going into bed? I mean, it has to be upwards of 50%. There’s a not-too-subtle message embedded in these books: when they end, it’s bedtime. All of these factors conspire to get your baby ready (mentally and physically) to go to sleep.


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.

Best Baby Mobiles Baby won't sleep Favorite baby books baby bedtime routine
The best crib mobiles in musical, black/white, and organic categories. If your baby baby won’t sleep, this guide will help you diagnose and fix the problem. Reading one of our favorite baby books will relax and prepare your baby for bedtime. Establishing a bedtime routine is a critical for teaching babies to sleep through the night