1. Create a bedtime routine. “Getting your child to sleep soundly at night starts during infancy,” says Alison Tothy, M.D., Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the University of Chicago Children’s Hospital and a mother of two kids. Start by setting the mood for sleep in the evening (silk onesies and sheets not required): Dim the lights, change your baby's diaper without cooing and gooing, and put her to bed. "When my kids woke up for a change or feeding," says Dr. Tothy, “I didn’t play or talk with them—it was all business!"
2. Give her space. Try to pick a place at home for your baby to sleep, so she'll associate it with zzz-time. “We let our first child fall asleep everywhere—the swing, the bassinette, the papisan,” says Jean Goh, M.D., a pediatrician in North Brunswick, New Jersey and a mother of two. “It was ridiculous! She didn’t sleep well at night in her crib for her first year. With our second, we were all crib all the time, and he was a champion sleeper.”
3. Say no to epic naps. For her first two months, your little Rip Van Winkle will sleep a lot (we’re talking up to 16 hours a day) and wake up frequently for feedings. After that, she’ll doze for longer stretches. “I tell Moms with babies older than three months not to let them nap for longer than three hours, or they might be wide awake at night,” says Dr. Goh. "I know how tempting it is to use an extended nap to, say, unload the dishwasher or do other chores. But I'd remind myself I didn’t want to be up from midnight to 5 a.m.”
4. Teach baby to soothe herself. Rocking or feeding your little one to sleep may seem easier, but then she might need your help falling back asleep whenever she stirs. The best thing to do? "Try putting your baby down when she's half-awake," suggests Dr. Goh. Another idea: Do a test-run during the daytime, when you’ll have more patience—and willpower!
5. Hang in there! By three months, most babies have some sort of regular sleep pattern. Rest easy—you’ll get your bedtime back, soon.