Laying Your Baby Down to Sleep

Your newborn is growing quickly, which uses a lot of energy. As a result, your baby may sleep for a total of 18 hours a day. Chances are, your newborn will not sleep for long stretches. But there are no rules for when or how long a baby sleeps. Use the tips on this handout to help your baby fall asleep safely.

Where Baby Sleeps

Where your baby sleeps depends on what’s right for you and your family. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as you decide:

  • A tiny newborn may feel more secure in a bassinet than in a crib.

  • You may want your baby to sleep in your room during the first weeks after birth.

  • If baby sleeps in another room, a room monitor can help you hear if he or she is awake.

Help Your Baby Sleep More Safely

Protect your baby by following these crib safety tips:

  • Place a newborn on his or her back to sleep, during naps and at night. Studies show this is the best way to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

  • Do not put an infant on his or her stomach to sleep.

  • Never lay a newborn down to sleep on a pillow, cushion, quilt, waterbed, or sheepskin. Doing so can increase a newborn’s risk of suffocating.

  • Make sure soft toys and loose bedding are not in your baby’s sleep area. Don’t use blankets, pillows, quilts, and pillow-like crib bumpers. These can raise a newborn’s risk of suffocating.

  • Keep your baby warm by dressing him or her in a sleeper or infant zip-up blanket.

  • Fix or replace any loose or missing crib bars.

  • Make sure the space between crib bars is no more than 2-3/8 inches. This way, baby can’t get his or her head stuck between the bars.

  • Make sure the crib does not have raised corner posts, sharp edges, or cut-out areas on the headboard.

Hints for Getting Baby to Sleep

Unfortunately, you can’t schedule when or how long your baby sleeps. But you can help your baby go to sleep. Try these tips:

  • Make sure your baby is fed, burped, and has spent quiet time in your arms before being laid down to sleep.

  • Swaddle your baby. Many babies like to be wrapped securely in a blanket or sheet (swaddling). After swaddling, check often to make sure the blanket or sheet stays secure and that your baby is not overheated.

  • Rock your baby, or gently push your infant in a stroller. Take baby for a car ride. Most babies like rhythmic motion.

  • Massage baby’s stomach and feet.

  • Sing softly or play lullaby tapes.

  • Screen out noise by running a cool humidifier or a fan in the room. If you use a fan, keep baby out of the draft.

  • At night, quietly feed and change baby when he or she wakes. Keep lights dim and limit distractions. This way, baby should go back to sleep sooner.

  • During the day, talk and play with your baby. The longer your infant is awake during the day, the better he or she may sleep at night.