Sleeping It Off: Doula Sleep Advice for Your Baby’s Age

When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Can’t remember? You’re not alone. We love babies, but the compromises we have to make for their wellbeing can be stressful. It’ll all be worth it in the end, we promise.

So what can you do in the meantime? It’s all about what works for you. You know your baby the best. We have a few suggestions, and if you’ve tried them all and still need help, we’re always here for you.

What do you do when your baby won’t sleep?


Your baby loves you, and being wrapped in your arms reminds them of those cozy nine months inside you. They feel safest when you hold them. For the first few months, it will be difficult to extract them from you to have them sleep on their own. Most babies will wake up the second you move, or put them down. They’re smart, and they know when you’re trying to sneak away.

If your baby will only sleep on you, then wakes up the second you try to put them in their own bed, try some preemptive measures.

Newborns to about 3 months:

  • Move around while feeding, or as they’re falling asleep. If you’ve been sitting down, move around a little bit before you put them down. This will get them used to that movement so it won’t be such a shock when you finally put them on a new surface.
  • Put them on a warm surface. The shock of a cold blanket will startle them, so make sure their crib or bassinet is warm and inviting. freestocks-org-76658-unsplash
  • Feed on demand. A full baby is a happier baby.
  • Remember that newborn babies sleep inconsistently, and don’t like to be away from you. Have a little patience.

4-8 months:

  • Use a blanket while nursing and put it with them when you put them down. It will be nice and warm and smell like you.
  • Place your baby in their crib/bassinet drowsy but awake. Rub their tummy and let them know you’re there.
  • It’s ok to use props!
  • If they cry, pick them up and soothe them, then try again.
  • Feed on demand.

8-12 months

  • It’s ok to have a little noise. Too much quiet can actually work against you since any noise will startle them. Normal activities in the home are comforting to babies, so if they can hear you, that’s ok.
  • White noise. Noise is good. Having white noise, or even a fan, in baby’s room (or wherever baby is sleeping) will counter the noise you’re making if you’re concerned about that, and make a nice sleeping environment for them.
  • Routine over schedule. Bedtime doesn’t have to be at 8 pm every night. Watch for sleep cues and if your baby gets drowsy around a certain time, start your bedtime routine before that so they get used to things that relax them to associate with sleep.
  • Adjusting naps during the day. Your baby won’t be ready for bed at 8 if they wake from a nap at 6. If you need those nap times, push bedtime later. It’s easier to get them to sleep if they’re not overtired, so make sure they’re getting enough during the day, but customize it a little bit.

Sometimes issues need a little problem solving, too. Are they getting enough to eat? Are all the lights on when you’re trying to get them to sleep? Are you trying to do too many things at the same time? Is baby picking up on your stress?

It’s also helpful to adjust your own schedule to suit baby. Are you trying to fit your baby into a 9-5 schedule? That won’t work. Older children and partner time are important too, so what changes can you make so everyone (including you!) is cared for?

And remember, all babies are different. The important thing to know is what works for you. It will get easier, and all babies learn to sleep on their own eventually. If they didn’t, we would all still be curled up with our moms, instead of cuddling with our own children.

What worked for you? Let us know in the comments. If you still need some guidance, contact us with any sleep issues you’re having. We’re here to help!

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