How To Get Baby Back To Sleep At Night

After a long and tedious day, it's finally time to put your baby to sleep. You have completed your nighttime routine, and everything is in place to ensure a seamless process. You put your baby in the cot and watch his adorable little eyes close for the night. However, as soon as you turn on your favorite reality TV show and grab your late-night snacks, you hear a loud cry. Now what? Do you have to repeat the entire process?

Or perhaps you put your baby down for his mid-morning nap, and after 30 to 45 minutes, he is up again. So, when will mama get a rest? If you have ever experienced this, you know how frustrating and exhausting it can be to get a baby back to sleep when they wake up. Luckily, this is a common occurrence among many parents of babies and toddlers. In fact, only a handful of parents go through the early years of their babies' lives without struggling with a sleep issue of some kind. 

However, although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to solving this sleep issue, there are several tips you can use to help a baby sleep when they wake up. Keep reading to find effective ways to prevent your baby from waking a few minutes after you put them down to sleep.

Baby Sleep Stages

Baby sleep cycles is a common term that many mamas have probably become familiar with. Generally, sleep stages, also known as sleep cycles, refer to the periods of long, deep sleep periods and the shorter periods of light REM cycle sleep. During the transition between these periods, it is normal to wake up briefly, a duration referred to as temporary awakening or partial arousal. As adults, we usually wake up, make a few turns, and go back to sleep during the transition. 

Likewise, babies go through these sleep stages during their first years. However, they might wimp, weep, or make some cooing sounds during their temporary awakening, instead of turning around in bed and quickly going back to sleep. In turn, this often confuses parents and tricks them into thinking that the baby has stopped sleeping. But are they really awake?

How to Discern if a Baby is Fully Awake

Contrary to popular belief, when a baby starts whimpering, weeping, or making cooing sounds immediately after putting them to sleep in their cot, it does not mean that they are fully awake. You will be surprised to know that if you give them a few minutes, they can actually go back to sleep on their own. 

If your baby is still rubbing the eyes, pulling the ear, yawning, or even fussing and crying, it may be a sign that it is not fully awake. Leave them alone for approximately 12 minutes, which is enough time for them to self-soothe and put themselves back to sleep. 

Generally, the first sleep cycle after most babies and toddlers sleep at night or take a daytime nap lasts between 20 and 45 minutes. To better ascertain this duration, you can use your child's next few naps to determine how long it takes them to start a stir. It is advisable to set a timer since it is common to feel like it has been a long time since your baby started weeping. After 12 minutes, walk over to see if your child has gone back to sleep. 

What Steps to Take to Put Your Baby Back to Sleep

What if your baby does not go back to sleep after 12 minutes? What should you do then? You might think, 'I have a healthy nighttime routine, created a spectacular sleeping space for my baby, and even used my baby's favorite embe swaddle; shameless plug alert! But he still wakes up shortly after putting them down to sleep.'

Don't fret! There are several proven ways that you can use to help a baby sleep quickly and soundly. Note that if you suspect something is wrong with your baby's health, don't hesitate to consult your doctor. But if they are waking for the sake of waking, here are a few tips to help your baby sleep after waking up.

Avoid Rushing to Comfort Them

If your baby starts making sounds or crying shortly after falling asleep, avoid rushing to comfort them. After all, not every sound your baby makes means that they need soothing. As mentioned earlier, give your baby some time to soothe and see if they will calm themselves down. 

However, after 12 minutes and the baby does not stop crying by themselves, you can intervene before things get out of hand. BabyCenter stresses the importance of picking up your baby before they fully wake up, as it will be harder to put them back to sleep if awake fully. Thus, parents should know the difference between fully waking up and regular fussing to know when intervention is required.

Calmly Soothe Your Baby

Since everything is new to babies, they can get stimulated easily. Thus, once your baby wakes and doesn't go back to sleep after 12 minutes, gently pick them up and calmly soothe them. Avoid giving them eye contact as it may keep them awake longer. 

Healthline suggests that you can calmly soothe a baby by gently rocking them back and forth while making soft, shushing noises. Keeping the baby's sleeping space as calm as possible aids in gently and calmly soothing the infant. It is also advisable to keep the room as dark as possible and avoid talking to them loudly. Do your best to maintain calm and silence until the baby returns to sleep.

Give Them a Pacifier or Feed Them If They are Hungry

As you may already know, babies have tiny stomachs, which cannot sustain them throughout the night. As a result, they wake up every few hours to feed. If this is the case, feed your baby until they are just about to sleep, then place them in their cot. 

Alternatively, you can also give them a pacifier, as the sucking reflex it provides is effective in soothing infants. This explains why most breastfed newborns continue to hold on to the breast even after feeding. If your baby wakes up in the middle of their sleep, having a pacifier handy might be a terrific method to help them quickly fall back asleep.

Avoid Changing Your Baby's Diaper

Unless your baby's diaper is dirty or extremely wet, it is best to reconsider that diaper change. A diaper change is an excellent way to increase their cortisol levels and wake them fully, making it more difficult to put them back to sleep. 

Instead, you should change your baby's diaper after their nighttime feed. Put them in a top-rated bedtime diaper and apply sufficient diaper-rash cream to ensure that they are as dry and safe from a diaper rash for as long as possible. 

Use Dim Light

When picking up a baby after a sleep cycle and you want to get them back to sleep, ensure that the lights are not too bright. Use opaque shades to block out any excess light, thus avoiding overstimulating the baby. You may also utilize red night lights since they are not too bright and have been proven to help stimulate melatonin production, which is a sleep hormone. 

What Baby Items Will Help Babies Stay Asleep Longer and Are Safe?

One of the most common questions among new parents is, 'how can I get my little one to sleep longer?' or 'when do babies start to sleep through the night?' Although there is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions, several proven sleeping aids can assist your baby in sleeping longer and staying safe. They include:

Embe Swaddle

Havard Health reveals that putting a baby in a swaddle creates a soothing environment where they feel like they are still in the womb. The swaddle helps them feel safe and warm while reducing the chances of the 'moro' reflex startling and fully waking them up. The 'moro' reflex, as defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), is a natural startle response among babies where they arch their backs and throw back their legs, arms, and head. It often occurs as a result of a lack of support. 

The embe swaddle is specifically designed to combat this reflex. It allows adequate movement of the legs and hips, which is deemed safe by the AAP. It safely secures the baby by fastening the fabric around them and opting to leave their tiny adorable legs in or out of the swaddle. Regardless of your choice, you can be sure that the soft fabric will meet your child's unique needs, ensuring that they sleep comfortably for longer.


White Noise

White noise, broadly speaking, refers to any sounds used to block out other sounds within the area. These sounds can range from ocean waves to rainfall. Studies have shown white noises help babies fall asleep and stay asleep longer, particularly during naps where they may not be particularly inclined to do so. This might be because it will block out other noises and establish a connection between the chosen noise and sleep.

Baby Monitor

Although a baby monitor may not directly assist in helping the baby sleep better, it is crucial in allowing the parents to rest easy. Baby monitors come in various designs, with the most simple functioning, like a simple walkie-talkie. While one unit remains with the parent, the other goes close to the baby's cot. As a result, the parent will quickly hear the baby's cries! 

Like many other things, baby monitors have developed over time. Today, there are baby monitors that incorporate video recording linked to an app, allowing parents to keep an eye on their child even if they are away from home and staying with a babysitter or grandparents. Additionally, a lot of monitors allow for the tracking of sleeping hours. If you are training your baby to a sleep routine, these monitors can be useful in determining what is functioning well and what might need adjustment.

The Bottom Line

Like everything else, it is crucial always to follow your instincts when nurturing your young ones. Always do what feels comfortable for you and your baby. If you constantly feel lost and frustrated when your baby wakes up shortly after putting him down to sleep, try something new. Perhaps you could swaddle him with an embe swaddle, use white noise, or even install opaque curtains in the room to help them sleep better. Once you find what works for you, keep doing it.

The good news is that there are many ways to help your baby sleep after waking up. And eventually, your baby will be sleeping effortlessly through the night. So, keep going, mama. You're doing great! 

November 01, 2022 — Janeve Helmbold

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.