Getting babies to sleep is a challenge that every mother faces. Some children are excellent sleepers and will rest for hours without a peep, while others are restless from birth and fight sleep with every ounce of energy they can muster. Pediatricians have recommended putting babies to sleep on their backs for decades to reduce sleep-related injuries and deaths, and getting your baby to be comfortable on her back can present quite a struggle. However, it is not an impossible task with a bit of persistence and dedication.
How to Get Baby To Sleep on Back
Examine your baby’s sleeping area for any obstructions. It is recommended that you do not put your baby to sleep in a crib or bassinet with a lot of toys or soft blankets, as they can present a hazard if your sleeping baby rolls over on them. A plain crib mattress with a fitted sheet is plenty of padding for your baby to sleep comfortably.
Feed your baby approximately 30 minutes before bedtime. Babies sleep much more soundly on a full stomach, so feeding her last meal shortly before bedtime will help her sleep deeply and be less restless. Be sure to burp her thoroughly to prevent any spit-ups when you lay her down.
Bathe your baby and get him dressed in his sleeping clothes after feeding. A steady, constant bedtime routine will help him unwind and recognize that bedtime will happen at the same time every night and will help his internal clock adjust to a consistent bedtime.
Dim the lights in the baby’s room and turn down any televisions or radios. The darkened lights and quiet atmosphere will remove distractions and allow your baby to fall asleep without excess noise. You can leave a nightlight or lamp on if you feel uncomfortable leaving the room totally dark.
Place your baby carefully in the crib or bassinet on his back. Cover him with his favorite blanket and tuck it in around him gently to give him a sense of closeness. Babies sleep well when snuggled in a comfortable bed, so wrapping him up a bit will prevent too much wiggling and give him a sense of security.
Leave the room quietly and allow your baby to put himself to sleep. Most babies need a few minutes to fuss to themselves before falling asleep, so don’t go back in to check on him unless you hear anything out of the ordinary. It can be a little challenging to just listen to your baby cry to himself, but learning how to self-soothe is an important lesson in learning to sleep.
Peek in on your baby after 15 minutes. Many children will put themselves to sleep without too much fuss, but some will take a bit longer to tire themselves out. If your baby is still fussing, be sure he is still on his pack and tuck his blanket around him again. Do not pick him up or make a big fuss, or he will learn that crying will lead to you picking him up.
Repeat this process until your child is sleeping. Many babies will roll onto their sides or tummies while soothing themselves, so be sure to turn her over if she ends up like this. It may wake her up the first few times you turn her over, but rolling her gently and slowly onto her back will place her in a safe position and will train her body that sleeping on her back is the proper position.
Follow this same routine on a nightly basis until your baby learns to put himself to sleep every night. There may be nights when he has a setback and stays awake or rolls around for a few minutes, but stay firm in your routine and do not go in and pick him up. Stick to your guns, and before you know it your baby will be sleeping soundly on his back through the night.
- Do not surround your baby with pillows or blankets to prevent him rolling around. Soft padding can be a hazard to your baby and can easily smother him if he happens to accidentally roll over in his sleep. It is much safer to simply monitor him and roll him over as necessary than to take the risk of suffocation.