Baby Sleep In The First Year: How To Survive & Get More Rest

Baby sleep in the first year is, in my opinion, the most daunting task of new motherhood.

When mama and baby are tired, everything else is just more difficult.

I have compiled all of my favorite blog posts on baby sleep to give you all of the tips and tricks for surviving your first year, and possibly catching a few extra z’s here and there.

What you should know baby sleep in the first year. Baby sleeping holding pacifier.
What You Should Know Baby Sleep In The First Year

Understanding Your Baby: The Dunstan Baby Language

mother holding a crying baby
Spend Less Time Crying And More Time Bonding With The Dunstan Baby Language

Understanding your baby might be the single most important piece of baby sleep.

If you are trying to put your newborn down for a nap, and they are telling you they are too hot, too gassy, or hungry, you are never going to win.

The Dunstan Baby Language is a secret baby language that lets you understand exactly what your newborn is telling you through their sounds and cries. This baby language will tell you if your baby is: hungry, tired, uncomfortable, or gassy.

By listening to your baby and knowing exactly when they are tired, you have the best chance at getting them to–finally–sleep!

Where Should Your Baby Sleep: Pack N’ Play Or Bassinet?

bassinet with shade and mobile
Pack N’ Play Or Bassinet? Which One Is Best For You?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that your baby sleeps in your room for the first year.

They also give guidelines as to where your baby should sleep: a firm, flat space, on their backs, with nothing else in their crib.

Both full-sized cribs, bassinets, and Pack N’ Plays offer these features for safe sleep. So how do you choose between them?

For most of us, a full-sized crib isn’t going to fit in our room for room-sharing. That leaves bassinets and Pack N’ Plays.

I’ll run through the key features of both to help you decide whether a bassinet or pack n’ play is better for your baby registry. Ultimately, I would opt for a bassinet (see below) and a Pack N’ Play if you can. They both have features that you might like at different stages of your baby’s sleep in the first year. Plus a Pack N’ Play can continue to grow with your little one into toddlerhood.

Where Should Your Baby Sleep: The Best Bassinets

baby sleeping in a bassinet
Find The Perfect Bassinet For Your Little One

I recommend putting your newborn in an approved bassinet for the first few months. Bassinets are smaller than traditional cribs and offer a cozier feel for your baby.

There are so many bassinets to choose from! I have picked my favorite bassinets with all of the features you are looking for (and maybe some you didn’t even know existed) like adjustable height, folding down for travel, having a built-in changing table, and even the high-end smart bassinets that might even be able to get you a few extra hours of sleep.

What To Wear To Sleep: Swaddling In The First Few Weeks

stack of baby blankets and toy elephant
The Best Swaddles And Blankets For Your Child

The baby blanket game has really changed in the last few years and the options are a little overwhelming.

There are literally hundreds of different swaddled, sleep sacks, sleepsuits, blankets, and more to choose from.

As a mom who tried A LOT of these products (a story for another day), I break down the main types of baby blankets, the features you should look for, and give my recommendation on what sleeping gear you should have for the arrival of your little one.

Baby sleep in the first year. Survive and get more rest from a mom who tried it all.
Baby Sleep In The First Year

What To Wear To Sleep: Transitioning From The Swaddle

baby feet poking out of blanket
When To Stop Swaddling

There comes a time–a sad time–when you have to stop wrapping your baby up like a little burrito, and let them sprawl out in their sleep space.

Unfortunately, this transition (usually) comes with many sleepless nights for mom and baby.

In this guide I’ll prepare you for when you need to transition from the swaddle–hopefully, you can delay this as long as possible–and what the next sleep products are.

Spoiler Alert: The best transitional product for my son was the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit (see more below).

Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit

baby sleeping in baby merlin's magic sleepsuit
My Son In His Magic Sleepsuit

If you read either of the two articles above, you know that my journey to transition my baby from a swaddle was a long and sleepless process.

Luckily, we stumbled on the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit and it was a complete game-changer for us. I actually got my first consecutive 9 hours of sleep 🥳.

I’ll share how we found the Magic Sleepsuit, how it works, why you should consider trying it, and what to wear once your baby outgrows it.

Baby Merlin’s Magic Dream Sack

baby sleeping in baby merlin's dream sack
My Son On My Lap In His Magic Dream Sack

If you’re worried about using the Magic Sleepsuit because you don’t want your baby to become too attached to it like a swaddle, don’t worry.

Baby Merlin’s has created a whole line of transitional products, including the one that I own (and that my son is currently using) called the Magic Dream Sack.

Read about how the Magic Dream Sack is a serious upgrade from a traditional sleepsack and why I am so happy that Baby Merlin’s expanded their product line.

When It All Goes Wrong: What To Do When Your Sick Baby Won’t Sleep

mom holding baby grandma taking temperature on forehead
How To Get A Sick Baby To Sleep

Veteran moms have been there, and we know how sad it can be for new moms…

You just got your sleeping pattern down, your baby is finally sleeping in chunks long enough that you can function as a human being, and BAM they get sick.

Everything goes out the window.

The sleepless nights are back.

What are you supposed to do?

Here are my top tips for helping your sick baby sleep while they are sick, and how to get back on your schedule and routine once they are feeling better.

10 Best Baby Sleeping Bags With Sleeves

baby sleeping in a baby sleeping bag with sleeves
Keep Your Baby Warm With A Long Sleeve Baby Sleeping Bag

Here are the 10 best long sleeve baby wearable blankets. Long sleeve wearable blankets are hard to come by, and it can be difficult to know what to dress your baby in underneath them. This guide will show you my favorite long sleeve sleep sacks and explain the TOG rating system for clothing. It will also tell you what your baby should wear underneath their sleep sack.

23 Best Split Screen Baby Monitors

Video baby monitor with remote pan, tilt, and zoom on a shelf with toys.
Multi-Camera Baby Monitors

Monitor multiple children in multiple rooms from one parent device with split-screen baby monitors and multi-camera baby monitors.

Pro Tip: Put a split screen baby monitor on your registry with your first child so that the unit can expand as your family grows.

Bonus: Lullabies With Lyrics

mom singing to baby
Soothe Your Baby With These Sweet Lullabies

My favorite lullabies to sing to my son, along with the lyrics and YouTube videos.

Knowing a few lullabies is so helpful for soothing babies to sleep. When my son was a newborn I knew if I sang “Hush Little Baby” he would be out cold–guaranteed–after 5 rounds max. It was a backup tool in my arsenal for those nights–and naps–that he just did not want to go down.

How To Choose The Best Light Bulb For Your Nursery

Remote for remote LED light bulb in nursery
Remote LED Nursery Lamp

Did you know that the type and amount of light that your baby is exposed to before sleep can affect not only if they will fall asleep but also if they will stay asleep??!?!?! 🤯

Learn all about the best light bulbs for your baby’s nursery.

Mini Crib Vs. Crib: Sizes and Differences Explained

Picture of Delta Children's crib in nursery with adjustable position height mattress
Full-Sized Crib in the Nursery

There is a difference in size between a mini crib and a full-sized crib. Mini cribs are not bassinets or pack n’ plays. They are their own separate category. Learn what makes a crib a mini crib vs. a standard crib and which one is best for your baby, space, and longevity.

Playard Vs. Crib: One or Both?

Baby sleeping in a sleep sack in a playard
My Son Sleeping in the Graco Playard

Are you debating between a playard (pack ‘n play) and a crib? Here’s a comparison of both. I highlight the features, pros and cons, and all the reasons why you should ultimately have both on your registry for baby gear!

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Hi, I'm Jacqui, founder of Mommy Maker Teacher and mom of two toddlers. With a degree in education, 12+ years of experience as a K-12 teacher and curriculum developer, and courses in childhood psychology and language acquisition, I share research-backed parenting tips and advice. I provide helpful content for moms on all stages of motherhood - from trying to conceive and pregnancy to postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting.