6 Steps to Get Baby to Sleep A.S.A.P.

All the must-haves for a relaxing bedtime routine.
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profile picture of Kate Traverson
August 31, 2022
baby sleeping in crib
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Babies rely on routine to keep them calm, happy and comfortable—three components we all need for some satisfying snooze time. But too often bedtime can turn into chaos, the product of dealing with a fussy or overtired little one who’s fighting sleep. That’s why it’s never too early to establish nighttime habits that will help both of you unwind at the end of a long day. The key is to create a consistent evening ritual that baby can predict. Start with these six steps and our recs for the best products to make them happen, all from Zulily’s Welcome Baby Shop (plus, you’ll get 15 percent off your first purchase!)—they’ve got unbeatable deals on top brands to discover every day, from baby’s sleep essentials to the cutest PJs.

Step 1: Give baby a bath.

Granted, you don’t need to bathe baby every day (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends three times a week). But on the days that you do, you might as well make it a calming experience to start bedtime off on the right foot. Warm water and a gentle, plant-based shampoo and wash can help baby wind down—bonus points if you play some soothing music during bathtime. Follow up with a gentle massage to apply some lotion, so baby will be moisturized and relaxed.

Our Picks:

Burt’s Bees Baby Original Shampoo & Wash, $15;

Burt’s Bees Baby Ultra Gentle Sensitive Lotion, $12;

Step 2: Put on some comfy pajamas.

Name something more comforting than changing into your PJs after a long and tiring day… we’ll wait. Even if baby has basically been sporting pajamas 24-7, the mere act of changing outfits before bed can act as a cue that it’s time to transition to sleep. To make nighttime diaper changes easier for you (and less jarring for baby), choose a one-piece with a full-length zipper or a simple elastic-bottom sleep gown.

Our Picks:

Burt’s Bees Baby Organic Cotton Footie, $12;

Hudson Baby Sleep Gown Set, $21;

Step 3: Cozy up with a book.

Reading to baby from an early age has been shown to strengthen language skills as well as promote a stronger bond between the two of you. Plus, the extra snuggle time with a calming story can help you both unwind and relax before bed.

Our Pick:

DEMDACO I Love You to the Moon cloth book, $18;

Step 4: Set the mood.

The womb is a noisy place—mom’s heartbeat, the sloshing of fluid and muffled voices are all heard constantly by baby in utero. So it makes sense that sleeping in complete silence could feel like an abrupt change. Using low-frequency white noise at night has the dual benefit of helping baby snooze and drowning out any household noises that could startle baby awake. Pair this with dim lighting right before bedtime to cue baby’s eyes and ears that it’s time to get sleepy. The Munchkin Shhh Portable Sleep Machine serves both purposes, with three choices for continuous sound and a soft nightlight.

Our Pick:

Munchkin Shhh Portable Sleep Machine, $21;

Step 5: Swaddle, sway and sing.

Babies are used to having zero personal space inside the womb, so many newborns find it comforting to be swaddled before sleeping. Yet, if you’ve ever tried to wrap a squirmy infant in a structureless blanket, you know that this process requires next-level origami skills (and who wants to attempt that at 3 a.m. after a diaper change?). Enter the Velcro swaddle: a foolproof invention for wrapping baby up securely. Once baby is sufficiently snug, rocking or swaying and singing a lullaby can also help baby feel drowsy. While modern parents tend to skip singing to baby before bed, the age-old practice has actually been shown to have health benefits as well as a calming effect. Even if you can’t hold a tune, baby will benefit from hearing your voice in a singsongy tone.

Our Pick:

Summer Infant SwaddleMe Original Wearable Blanket Set, $20;

Step 6: Put baby down drowsy, but still awake.

Don’t sweat it if baby falls asleep in your arms while you’re humming a lullaby (who wouldn’t?!). But whenever you can, attempt to put baby down in their sleep space just as their eyelids are starting to droop. The more practice they get falling asleep on their own, the less likely they’ll need you to hold them all night long—and rest is important for you, too! The AAP recommends rooming with baby until at least six months. During that time, a bedside bassinet can make middle-of-the-night feeds more convenient. The Baby Delight Beside Me Dreamer Bassinet can be used as a standalone sleep space or be attached to the side of your bed and adjusted to fit any height.

Our Pick:

Baby Delight Beside Me Dreamer Bassinet & Bedside Sleeper, $199;

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