Swadling, Safety, and Sleep Training

There are a number of safety precautions to take when put ting your little one to sleep. These precautions are especially important from birth to three months because of his inability to hold up his own head.


Swaddling your infant is a great way to keep your infant comfortable and warm while sleeping. It is also a great way to keep your infant from being disturbed by the startle reflex.

To swaddle your baby:

Your baby should be snug but loose enough that his legs can move.

- First lay a blanket like a diamond on a flat surface and fold down the top corner about six inches, forming a straight edge.

- Then place your baby on his back so that the top of the fabric you folded over is at his shoulders.

- Bring your baby’s arms down while you pull the left corner of the blanket over him.

- Pull the right corner of the blanket over your baby and tuck it in under his left arm.

- Then pull the bottom corner up, and finish by pulling the left corner of the blanket over your baby and tucking it gently under him. Some infants love the safety and security of being swaddled. Other infants may resist swaddling.

Sleeping Safety

There are a number of safety precautions to take when put ting your little one to sleep. These precautions are especially important from birth to three months because of his inability to hold up his own head.

What to know:

- Your baby should be placed on his back to sleep, never on his stomach or side. When sleeping face down, your baby may overheat or rebreathe the air he just exhaled, causing a lack of oxygen.

- Avoid placing your baby on his side; he can accidentally roll over on his tummy. When your infant is about five or six months old, he will be able to roll over onto his tummy on his own. If he is rolling over on his own, he may sleep on his tummy because your infant is demonstrating that he has enough arm strength to hold himself up and roll over again if needed.

- Do not have soft objects like toys, quilts, pillows, or crib liners in your infant’s crib as they can cause suffocation. If your infant is chilly, dress him in warmer clothes when putting him to sleep instead of adding a blanket, but avoid overheating him.

- Never cover your baby’s face with a hood, hat, or blanket and make sure there is fresh air and proper ventilation in the room. Swaddling can help your baby sleep soundly on his back, but it is important to make sure the blanket is tight enough not to unravel but not so tight that your infant will overheat.

- Sleep in the same room as your infant for about the first 12 weeks so that you can hear him wake up when he is hungry, wet, or uncomfortable. It is okay to sleep with your infant in the room, but do not have him share a bed or sleep with another infant or sibling. Alternatively, you can use a sound or video monitor; just make sure it is close enough and acute enough to pick up all sounds your infant may make.

Warning: Infants can make strange noises all night long. Some sound like dolphins, others make grunts, and sometimes a baby will wail in his sleep—and they can do all this and not even wake up.

- Don’t give your infant a bottle in his crib because he is not elevated enough to drink it safely; however, pacifiers are great when putting your infant to sleep because the sucking motion soothes and calms him as he falls asleep.

Create a Safe Environment

During the 7- to 12-month period, your baby will explore everything in her environment.

- Take time to check and baby proof the corners of all furniture and cabinets.

- Attach barriers or gates to the top and bottom of stairwells.

- Cover all electrical outlets.

- Use fasteners to “lock” all cabinets below waist level.

- Pull electrical cords out of reach.

- Doorknob covers can be added to close off rooms to children once they become walkers.

How much sleep?

Between birth and about four weeks:
Babies need about 16–17 hours of sleep every day. They tend to sleep between one to two hours at a time, and these sleep times are scheduled around their eating times, which are every two to four hours.

Four to six weeks old:
Your baby needs between 14–16 hours of sleep.

After eight weeks:
Your baby will begin to sleep more through the night and less during the day, but he will still wake up during the night to eat. Between three and six months: Your baby will begin to establish his own sleep schedule and be fairly consistent with it.

Around four months:
Infants need about five naps a day.

At four months:
Changes will occur in the usual sleep schedule as he is adapting to a schedule that now includes sleeping longer at night.

At six months:
Your baby will be taking three to four naps a day. Your baby is consuming enough calories that he can sleep comfortably through the night for about five to six hours without needing to wake for a feeding.

Remember that each child is different. Some babies will sleep through the night at six months, others will take a year.

Sleep Training

Night weaning starts around six months as you start developing more of a routine for your infant with eating and sleeping schedules. As he wakes up in the night, try to soothe him back to sleep by patting his back or rocking him. Do not force night weaning on your child. If he is crying for long periods of time, tend to him and at tempt to night wean again in a couple of weeks.

- At eight months old, your baby will begin to self-soothe back to sleep if he wakes up. Infants usually start moving toward a two-nap schedule at this age and will continue to follow that two-nap schedule until the infant reaches toddler age and switches to one nap.

- Remember that each child is different, and there are a number of different ways to sleep train or night wean your infant. The most important thing to remember is to make your child comfortable and happy.

- Your infant will let you know if he is not ready, and you shouldn’t push him. If your infant is having a hard time keeping a consistent sleeping schedule, try another approach or try again in a couple of weeks. Stressing out yourself and your infant will not make it easier for either of you to sleep.

- Sleep training is important, but so is building trust with your child. If he has not calmed down after two or three minutes, tend to his needs and comfort him. Happy baby equals happy parent.