17 Ways to Help Your Newborn Calm Down & Sleep Longer

17 Ways to Help Your Newborn Calm Down & Sleep Longer // jessconnell.com

So, I just had our 8th baby.

Which means… I don’t know everything, but I know some stuff. 

There was this time, 14 or so years ago, when my first baby was just two months old, that I went to a birthday/blessing party for a young lady in our church. Right when it was time for each of us to share something encouraging with my young friend, my normally-super-calm baby decided to start screaming.

And screaming.

And screaming!!!

I moved to a corner of the room. And then into another room entirely. He wouldn’t nurse; each time I tried, he utterly refused to latch on. Nothing calmed him. He seemed angry. I couldn’t figure it out.

I felt so embarrassed– like an incompetent mom, ruining the whole bash.

The dad (a father of 5) came into the room with something I’d never have expected. It’s the first thing I’ll share with you.


  1. Turn a blow dryer on high and set it on a surface within 3-5 feet of baby (or some other super-loud noise– like a vacuum– that will drown out baby’s crying).
  2. Go outside (or, if it’s bad weather, go near a window) and point out things you see.
  3. Make a constant noise near baby’s ear, for 10+ minutes– “shhh, shhhh, shhhhhhhhhhhh,” repeated over and over — while rhythmically & firmly patting baby’s bottom/back.
  4. Put baby on his tummy over your two knees and go back and forth, bouncing your knees– left, right, left right, left right– while singing quietly and/or patting and scratching their back.



Each time we have a baby, helping our newborn sleep well, as soon as possible, is a big priority for us. Here are 13 ways we help that process along:

  1. Noise machine (a loud fan, pointed away from baby, can serve this same purpose)
  2. Full(er) nursing sessions… get that baby more of the rich hindmilk!
  3. Get them into a simple Eat-Wake-Sleep cycle. This helps wake times be happy/full-tummy times, and sleep times be when their tummy is getting emptier.
  4. Swaddling
  5. Sleep positioner (note: I only use the two-sided portion of this product, not the incline.) Our newborns sleep better on their sides, and so I use this to position them safely, slightly on their side, until they are old enough to sleep how they please in a crib.
  6. Sleep wedge (if spit-up/acid reflux is a problem) or an inclined baby bed like this one.
  7. Bouncy seat (if you are nearby– do not use this without you being at baby’s side)
  8. Let baby sleep next to you on the couch, wedged between your leg & back of couch. When they start to rouse, you can gently, rhythmically wiggle your leg, or pat their tummy, and help gently soothe them back to sleep.
  9. Put baby to sleep in the noisy living room. Yes, I’m serious. Let the toddler run and play nearby, etc. If you have your baby do this early, it will teach them to be excellent sleepers who do not easily wake up to noise/disturbance. Ironically, doing this regularly with your newborn will produce a less-easily-wakable baby.)
  10. Use gas drops (for general fussiness, as well as gas/reflux problems)
  11. Less clothes/more clothes (baby could be hot, baby could be cold)
  12. Use a pacifier (but not if you’re having any milk supply issues or problems nursing!)
  13. Give a bath right before they go to sleep.


IN THE COMMENTS, please share: 

  • How do YOU get your newborn(s) to calm down and sleep longer?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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6 Responses

  1. Charisa says:

    Yes! People generally think we are crazy for having our tiny babies sleep in the living room, but I find it so helpful to their sleep habits! (And easy to keep an eye on them too.)

    To calm a fussy baby, I do these things, one at a time, adding one more as needed until baby calms:
    -shush in their ear
    -hold them in your arms on their side
    -jiggle/swing them gently

    So by the end, I’m shushing a swaddled baby that is side-lying in my arms being jiggled. And almost always has stopped crying by now. (The 5 S approach was developed by Harvey Karp, but the 5th is “suck” and I’ve rarely found it necessary and we’ve never used a soother – but it might help too.)

  2. Tamara says:

    Ive never done The hair dryer one or the sleep poaitioner but most of the rest I’ve had a crack at.

    The Superman hold (where they lie flat across your forearm) has always calmed my gassy babies.

    I also get my babies changed into pyjamas after their bath (or before bed if I don’t bath them that day). To help them associate the time for their big sleep.

  3. Mary says:

    1) Baby wearing’s a life saver on the go! You can do anything while they’re snuggled in and cozy (especially as newborns), and it also helps prevent them from getting over stimulated (facing in). 2) Invest in a car seat canopy! Keeps them warm, dry, and asleep. ☺ 3) And, oddly enough, the last one loved sleeping in her infant chair (sitting upright). I first tried it because she was so congested the first few months and it interfeared with normal sleeping habits (and breathing habits!). She slept like a pro in that thing until about 4 months when she was starting to move enough she might fall out.
    4) A bed time and nap time routine. Doing the same things to go to sleep at the same times most every day. I find they’re a lot more flexible as well when they’re in good sleep habits.

  1. December 31, 2016

    […] 17 Ways to Help Your Newborn Calm Down & Sleep Longer […]

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