Getting a Newborn Baby to Fall Asleep Fast: 5 Effective Methods

How do I get my baby to fall asleep quickly?

Getting a newborn baby to fall asleep fast can be quite challenging. Here are five effective and perhaps surprising methods that we have found work wonders. This is based on our experience of photographing hundreds of newborn babies over 10 years. I have also tried these methods with my own two babies with great success.

Please note we are not health care professionals and these tips are simply our personal tried and tested methods during our photoshoots and with our own children. This is all simply in our own opinions. What works for some may not work for all. If you are worried about your baby not sleeping in any way please contact your local hospital or health care provider.

Sleep training, how to get a baby to sleep, fall asleep, how do I get my baby to sleep, shusher, yellow, baby in a basket,

Eat, Awake, Sleep

How it Helps: This method has been my personal golden rule and has worked wonderfully with my two babies. I first learned about it from a YouTuber with nine children, and I trusted her advice implicitly. It helps babies sleep longer by allowing them to get through the initial stage of digestion and for their milk to settle. Just as adults often feel drowsy after a big meal and might take a short nap, it makes sense that we wouldn’t have a full meal right before bed. This approach ensures that babies are comfortable and ready for a longer, more restful sleep.

How to do it: Follow the recommended feeding schedule for your baby’s age, such as every 2-3 hours for a newborn. Start with a good feed, then keep them upright for about 15 minutes to help with digestion, ensuring they stay awake if necessary (a gentle tickle on their feet can help). Hold them on your knee and use gentle movements to release any trapped air. Next, engage in 30 minutes to an hour of stimulation, like playing or showing them different objects. After this, change their nappy. When they start losing concentration, instead of feeding them again, try rocking them to sleep. They may resist, but persistence often leads to longer sleep. If the resistance is too strong, sit them up and engage in more play before trying to rock them to sleep again. (Note: If your baby has colic, the crying may be due to pain. If the crying seems painful or continuous, consult a healthcare professional.)

Light and Dark

How it Helps: One of our tried-and-true methods of getting our clients’ babies to sleep fast is by showing them our studio light. Their eyes struggle to follow the sudden change in light, and their eyelids tire from opening and shutting. After a few moments, they get too tired of looking and fall asleep!

How to do it: Lay them across your body, as if you are holding them to breastfeed. Keep them snug and close to your body, but with their head slightly tilted back so they can see past you. If their head is on your left arm, have the light (window, lamp, light doorway) in front of them and a dark area next to it. Twist your body back and forth, showing them the light and dark over and over again at a relatively quick pace.

baby on brown background, taken by newborn photographer Leeds, swaddled, wearing headband, sound asleep

Noise Really Does Help!

How it Helps: We have no luck if we’re all whispering and trying to keep noise to a minimum. In fact, the louder it is, the better! Babies startle at the slightest sound, but if there is a lot of sound around them, this will happen less often. I believe it also makes them feel safer hearing voices and knowing they are not alone, making them more confident and able to fall asleep quicker.

How to do it: Get that white noise up high. Many people come in with Ewan the Sheep, but we find he simply isn’t loud enough. We use a fabulous shusher used by many newborn photographers found here. Try a combination of sounds, mixing white noise with talking, the washing machine, vacuum, or a hairdryer. We once had clients with twins who couldn’t get them to sleep in their first few weeks. However, they noticed if they went to their local pub on a busy afternoon, the twins slept soundly. After that, they found a YouTube video of a busy pub, and it worked a treat even at home!

Avoid Overfeeding Them

How it Helps: It prevents a sudden wake from a belly full of food. Often, when our clients keep “topping them up” to try and reach that “milk drunk” point, it more often than not fails. We slowly transfer the baby to the posing area, and as predicted, their gassy, full tummy begins the digestion process of gurgling, wind, and occasionally a little sick. This often irritates them, makes them wriggle, and in turn triggers their startle reflexes. If they suffer from colic, this also seems to aggravate it.

How to do it: Feed on demand but try to space it apart slightly if you can. If you find the baby is drinking little and often, try stretching it out— even a nappy change can help buy you a little extra time. That way, you can feed them a good feed, keep them awake to digest it, and then try to settle them to sleep before offering more milk.

sleeping baby, knitted romper, yellow, monochromatic, smiling in sleep, eyes closed, knitted cushion, resting peacefully, yellow background. Photographed by Leeds photographer, baby professional photographer.

Warm Everything Up

How it Helps: Being warm is what babies love most. After all, they have been in a 36-degree house for the past 9 months. This helps them stay asleep once you put them down. Often, you can spend a long time working hard getting them to sleep only to put them down on a cool surface and they startle. Being in your arms warms them up significantly, and simply moving away from you begins to cool them down quickly.

How to do it: Now I’m not just talking about cranking the heating up a little. I’m talking about warming everything up, including surfaces. We keep two hot water bottles on the go throughout our shoot. We pre-warm the changing mat and any surface our baby is to lay on. We also lay a soft towel on the changing mat to keep it cozy too. Depending on what they wear, we turn the heating up to at least 22°C, if not more. Just be super careful when using hot water bottles around babies and don’t leave them in their crib. Always check the temperature before laying them down with your elbow/wrist, followed by an infrared thermometer.

Additional Tips

  • Consistency is Key: Don’t keep changing their position in your arms when rocking them to sleep. Figure out what works for you and them and stick to it. Both of mine took forever to sleep when I was trying different positions. Growing impatient, I’d change it again and again—from side cradle to over my shoulder and back again. The bonus of being consistent is that in the future, when you hold them in that position, they remember it’s for sleep and know what to do!
  • Plan in advance: Don’t keep your baby in your arms for too long and plan where you intend to lay them before you start the sleep process. As soon as they are drowsy and minutes from sleep we recommend popping them down. If you wait too long they will get so warm and snuggly in your arms they may get upset to be moved. This could in turn start the new eat, awake sleep cycle.

I do hope all of this helps! Rest assured when you come for your photoshoot we will always work hard to get your baby to sleep and help you relax in the process. Your experience with is us is every part as important as the final results. Haven’t booked in yet? Want to know more about our newborn photography photoshoots? Just click here!