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Overtired Newborn Baby Won’t Sleep? Here’s How To Fix It.


Those first weeks and months of having a new baby can be so grueling, especially when your baby won’t sleep! They say newborns are supposed to sleep for 16-18 hours a day, but my girls never slept that much. I actually tracked my second daughter’s sleep for a couple of days when she was a newborn, and she averaged only 9 or 10 hours between night time sleep and naps. I know other moms who have had the same experience – their babies didn’t get nearly enough sleep according to baby sleep guidelines but wouldn’t sleep no matter how hard their mamas tried.

While that be great for their productivity later in life (who doesn’t wish they could get by on less sleep?), it makes it pretty difficult to function as a mom.

Sleep when the baby sleeps, they say. But what if the baby simply won’t sleep?

Options are limited with a newborn because they’re too young for any sort of sleep training, but here are some strategies to help you get your little one to sleep, and hopefully help you get some rest, too!

If Your Baby Won’t Sleep, Learn How to Swaddle

This is my number one tip for parents of new babies. If you want baby to sleep you’ve GOT to swaddle them. You don’t even have to know how to swaddle with a regular blanket anymore. There are tons of handy products that make it really easy like the SwaddleMe, the Woombie, the SwaddleUp, Halo SleepSacks, Zipadee-zip, and tons more.

If you think about it, it’s really a lot to ask of a tiny baby who doesn’t understand anything to instantly go from being constantly warm and cozy in your tummy to sleeping alone in a cold, hard bed. Swaddling helps make that transition easier because it makes them feel more secure and keeps them from startling themselves awake with the moro reflex. They’ll probably give you a SleepSack at the hospital, so be sure to use it!

Use White Noise To Help Your Baby Sleep Better

Similar to swaddling, white noise helps make your baby feel like they are right back in the womb. Between the sound of your heart beating, digestive sounds, and all the sound that leaks in from the outside, your insides are actually pretty noisy. So your baby doesn’t actually need silence to sleep well, they need it to be loud. The added benefit of this is that the white noise drowns out the sound of your husband slamming the door when he forgets that it’s naptime.

You can invest in a dedicated sound machine, but there are tons of other ways to get white noise going in a pinch. Turn on the vacuum cleaner or hair dryer, tune a radio to static, or just shush loudly in their ear with your own voice. There are also tons of white noise apps that you can download on your phone!

Stay Close By While Your Baby Goes to Sleep

Lots of experts will tell you to put your baby to bed ‘drowsy but awake’ so that they learn how to put themselves to sleep. It actually is good advice and it’s a great goal to shoot for, but not always practical with a newborn.

Sometimes I would follow this advice, but stay there with them with my hand on their tummy or face while they fell asleep. Once I was satisfied that they were in a deep sleep, I would leave them alone. It worked out well because they felt comforted by my presence, but they were still falling asleep in their bed without being rocked or held.

I used my Baby Box next to the couch so I could lie on the couch with my hand on her chest while she fell asleep. Click here to get your free box from The Baby Box Co.!

Use a MAM Pacifier

Just go ahead and toss that pacifier they gave you in the hospital. They are way too big and heavy for a newborn to hold in their mouths while asleep. They would always fall out as soon as my baby stopped sucking, and then when she wanted to start sucking again and there was no pacifier there, she would wake up crying and I’d have to go back and put it in.

I discovered MAM pacifiers with my second baby and it made such a huge difference! MAMs are much more lightweight and stay put much more easily, so I highly recommend them. They even make glow-in-the-dark varieties so you can find them at night without turning on the light!

Read: Baby Products That You’ll Actually Use

Try Diffusing Essential Oils

Many moms swear by using essential oils to help their baby calm down for sleep. A few drops of Lavender or Gentle Baby from Young Living (sponsor ID: 2594627) are great ones to try in a diffuser if you’re new to oils. You can use them for yourself, too, if you have trouble getting back to sleep after those middle-of-the-night feedings!

Is Your Baby Really Ready to Go to Sleep?

There were times in the middle of the night where I had my baby fed, changed, and swaddled, but she still refused to go to sleep. The more I rocked her and tried to make her sleep, the angrier she got.

2 AM is absolutely a proper time to be asleep. But your newborn has no sense of day and night yet, so you should expect them to sometimes be awake and ready to play in the middle of the night. They don’t care that you’re exhausted.

I learned that sometimes the best thing to do is stop trying to make them go to sleep and give them a little time to wear themselves out. So put the baby on her gym mat and let her ogle the floating toys while you watch some Netflix to pass the time.

Try putting her to bed again in 30 minutes or an hour. You may find that your newborn is much more willing to entertain the idea of going to sleep now that she’s had some playtime.

Getting Your Overtired Baby to Sleep

Does that help? Remember, white noise and swaddling are super important for helping an overtired baby settle down to sleep. Use a MAM pacifier and stay close by for a few minutes while your baby falls asleep. Try diffusing some Lavender or Gentle Baby essential oils to calm your baby. If none of that works to put her to sleep, don’t try to force your baby to sleep. Let him have a little awake time, then try again in a little while after he’s had a chance to wear himself out!


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