How to get your baby to sleep at night: Tips for exhausted parents

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By TODAY

Rest is a precious commodity when you’re a new parent. New parents trade sleep advice like it's worth its weight in gold; and to them, it is. One technique that really works? A nighttime routine.

In a TODAY.com poll, more than three-quarters of parents, 77 percent, said they have special activities in the evening to get their babies to sleep. Story time was a favorite, followed by bed time itself and bath time.

Almost three-quarters of respondents, 72 percent, said they follow the routine loosely.

For the routine to work, consistency is key, experts told TODAY’s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb 

“Making a routine a daily ritual has a huge impact. If you do it every day, it makes a big difference,” said Tara Glasgow, vice president of research & development at Johnson's Baby, in a sponsored segment on TODAY Tuesday.

[Johnson's Baby is a sponsor of TODAY.]

Start early on with a routine as simple as a bath, a massage, followed by quiet time together — a lullaby or reading a story — and all of these can work together to engage the senses in a way that locks in the baby’s memory, she added.

It’s never too early to start, noted Dr. Mary Ellen Renna, a pediatrician who recommends parents come up with a routine as soon as they get settled at home with their new baby.

“It reinforces the behavior for the parents so they get into the habit… and then eventually over the next weeks and months, it becomes a habit for the baby,” Renna said.

Colleen Padilla, a mom of two and founder of the parenting blog Classy Mommy, noted it’s important to find a routine that works for you. She started reading to her son at night when he was a baby and now, as a 6-year-old, it's a ritual he looks forward to.

“We don’t negotiate a bedtime. He would prefer to dig worms in the back yard all day long but the one time of day that my reluctant reader will read is at bedtime. He’s begging to read because we made that part of our ritual,” Padilla said.