Define sleep through the night
Your newborn isn't going to sleep straight through from bedtime to dawn. He needs to feed every three or four hours. However by 2 months, he'll probably only wake up once or twice to eat, and by 4 months, he should be able to get eight hours a night without waking.
Keep the room dark
Even when your little one needs to eat or needs to be changed in the middle of the night, you need to help him realize that it is still nighttime. Keep the room dark and use a nightlight and limit your interaction while you are in the room. He's more likely to drift back to sleep if he doesn't get confused, thinking it might be daytime.
Stick to a routine
A set routine in the evening before bedtime will help your baby realize that it's time to wind down for bed. Establish a routine and stick to it -- nurse/feed, bathe, read, rock, sleep. Lay him in his crib when he's sleepy but not all the way asleep. This technique will teach him to fall asleep on his own.
Common sleep techniques
If your baby is having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, follow one of these commonly used sleep techniques.
- Ferber Method -- The first night, when your baby begins to cry, wait five minutes before returning to his crib side, then 10 minutes, then every 15 minutes until he falls asleep. Each time you should try to console him without picking him up (unless he needs to be fed or changed, of course). On the second night, begin by waiting 10 minutes to comfort him and increase lengths of time from there. After a few days, he should begin to drift to sleep on his own. Remember to put him in his crib when he is drowsy but not sleeping for this technique to work.
- Gradual parent removal -- Some parents stay in their baby's nursery until he falls asleep because they worry their little one will feel abandoned. With this sleeping technique, the parent moves the chair further and further away from the crib over a period of two weeks. Soon, the chair will be out of the room and the baby will be sleeping on his own.
Remember^ Though some parents resort to the cry it out method -- letting their baby cry (sometimes for hours) until he falls asleep -- it isn't without risks. You may be ignoring cries when your baby actually needs you and is trying to tell you that something is wrong.