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How to put a baby to sleep in 40 seconds

By Cradlewise Staff

As a parent, you know that there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to get your overtired baby the rest that they need. If you’ve tried rocking, singing, and everything else under the sun without any luck, it might be time to try something new. Luckily, there’s always a way to get your baby to sleep—it just might take a bit of effort and creativity on your part.

So, what are some of the best ways to help your baby get the sleep they need? Whether you have a newborn baby or an older baby, we’ll teach you a few techniques that will help you put your baby to sleep. You’ll be kissing sleepless nights goodbye in no time.

The science behind baby sleep

In order to understand what methods work to ensure a good night of sleep, it’s important to first understand the science behind baby sleep. 

When it comes to baby sleep cycles, most babies sleep throughout the daytime and nighttime, waking only for feedings (generally every 3 hours or so). When babies get tired (which happens frequently throughout the day), you’ll be able to see a noticeable change in their demeanor. 

According to Samatha Radford, PhD, an exposure scientist with a focus on maternal-child health and the owner of Evidence-Based Mommy, “They may begin staring off into space instead of being playful and alert. They may look “zoned out” or start rubbing their eyes. Soon, they’ll become fussy, cry, and have jerkier movements.” 

The key, then, is to try and get your child to sleep as soon as you notice them looking tired. According to Dr. Radford, “Waiting too long until your baby is completely exhausted will cause a stress response to kick in, releasing adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormone).” 

Knowing this, the best way you can help your baby fall asleep is to pay attention to their cues of tiredness. And when you do notice that they’re tired, continue to calm their senses. 

What are some of the most effective ways to do this? Kerrin Edwards, a Pediatric Sleep Consultant and founder of Meet You In Dreamland, suggests utilizing the “five S’s” for infants 4 months and younger: 

  1. Shushing (you make the sound yourself or use a white noise machine)
  2. Sucking (a bottle, breast, or pacifier)
  3. Swaddling (with either a blanket or premade swaddle)
  4. Swinging (in a swing or a caregiver’s arms)
  5. Side lying (turn your baby on their side while holding them)

Edwards notes that, “Some babies may just need one or two of these things, while a baby who is very fussy might need all five at the same time!” Regardless of your baby’s individual needs, the key here is to help turn on Baby’s self-soothing switch that allows them to calm down and fall asleep.

Quickest ways to put your baby to sleep

Although we’re claiming some of these tricks can work in under a minute, let’s face it…every baby is different.  Some babies will fall asleep almost instantly with one of these methods while others may take a little longer. In general, though, if you follow some of the tips below, your baby should be snoozing in no time.

The tissue trick

When it comes to 40-second sleep tricks, the tissue trick has certainly garnered attention from the online community. In 2015, YouTuber and Australian father Nathan Dailo posted a video showing how he got his 3-month-old son to fall asleep in 40 seconds. The trick? Simply take a tissue and lightly stroke your baby’s forehead with it. The gentle pressure and movement is thought to help comfort and relax your baby.

This video has garnered tons of popularity since it was originally posted. Now, nearly 14 million people have watched the video and many parents have tried the trick with similar success. 

While there may not be scientific research supporting this specific tissue trick, research has found that massaging infants under the age of six months may help them sleep better, cry less, and be less stressed. However, remember that not all babies react the same to stimuli; just because a massage or a tissue trick works for one baby doesn’t mean it will work for another.

White noise machine

If you find that your baby is having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, a white noise machine can be a godsend. White noise machines emit sounds that help to mask other noises in the environment. This can be helpful in babies who are easily startled by sudden noises or who have difficulty sleeping in noisy environments.

The important thing to remember when using a white noise machine is to find a sound that is calming for your baby but not so loud that it will startle them awake. You may need to experiment with different sounds and volumes to find the perfect combination for your little one.

Crib Notes

Cradlewise has a built-in noise machine with white, pink, and brown noise options designed to help babies fall asleep more quickly (and more importantly, stay asleep). You can also use the Cradlewise App to customize soundtracks to create the perfect sleep recipe for your little one.

Cuddle up with mom

Although there are a number of ways you can help your baby fall asleep, Dr. Radford contends that one of the best ways to help a baby fall asleep is to allow them to fall asleep near Mom. “Babies are biologically wired to sleep cuddled up with Mom. The easiest way to get them to sleep is by letting them fall asleep in your arms, whether that’s at the breast, in a rocking chair, or in a baby carrier while you go for a walk.” 

The most consistent way to trigger tiredness

Along the same lines, if you’re looking for a way to consistently make putting your baby to sleep easier, establishing a bedtime routine is key. Research shows that as many as 20-30% of babies and toddlers have trouble sleeping. Implementing a routine will help signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep and will help them relax and fall asleep more quickly.

There are a variety of things you can do to create a bedtime routine for your baby. Some parents opt for a simple bedtime routine that includes reading a story, singing a lullaby, and giving their baby a bath. Others prefer to do a more elaborate routine that includes massage, stretching, and breathing exercises.

The important thing is to find what works best for you and your baby and to stick to the same routine every night. According to research, you should see positive results after just a few nights of implementing a routine. Specifically, positive sleep outcomes following a routine include an earlier bedtime, reduced number of awakenings during the night, increased duration of sleep, decreased sleep onset latency, and enhanced caregiver-reported sleep quality as well. 

The bottom line

There are many different ways to help your baby fall asleep quickly and easily. While some tricks may work better for certain babies, the key is to be patient and keep trying until you find what works best for yours. With a little trial and error, you’ll be on your way to getting your baby those much-needed zzzs in no time!

FAQs

Q: How do I get my baby to sleep ASAP?

A: First, make sure that the environment around the baby is conducive to sleep. The room should be dark and quiet with no distractions. Gently sway the baby and repeat the motion. A gentle massage can also help. Play pink noise music.

Q: How many minutes does it take for a baby to fall asleep?

A: Most babies usually take less than 40 minutes to fall sleep. However, each baby is unique and some might take longer.

Sources: 

  1. Science of sleep: how to decrease cortisol. Cleveland Clinic. 2019. “The 6 Best Ways to Make Your Baby Tired (and 3 Things NOT to Do)”.
  2. Research on baby and toddler sleep. National Library of Medicine. 2009. “A nightly bedtime routine: impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood”.
  3. Seeing results after implementing a bedtime routine. National Library of Medicine. 2017. “Implementation of a nightly bedtime routine: How quickly do things improve?

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