Is Your Baby A Light Sleeper? 9 Tips for Uninterrupted Nights

Author Image By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH •  Updated: 07/05/24 •  Sleep / Sleep Tips

Does your baby wake up at the slightest noise? The tiniest stream of light? A temperature change? 

Yes? Your baby’s a light sleeper. 

But this isn’t a bad thing! The situation simply requires a few tweaks so that you and your little one can get the sleep you all need and deserve.

Baby Light Sleeper Featured

9 Ways To Help A Light Sleeper Baby Stay Asleep

Before we begin, I’d like to start by saying that due to the natural structure of your baby’s sleep pattern, they will spend more time in REM sleep (rapid eye movement) than deep sleep and it’s during REM sleep that your baby is more likely to wake. 

With that in mind, here are my top tips for helping your little one get the slumber they need all night long.

Baby Light Sleeper - 9 Tips To Help Baby Sleep Deeper

1. Use White Noise

Using a white noise machine has to be top of my list and is always my go-to for ensuring your baby is not disturbed by ambient sounds in the house. 

A white noise machine provides a soothing backdrop that drowns out sudden noises. The consistent sounds produced mimic the environment in the womb which is ideal for newborns and young babies. 

In addition, white noise machines have been proven to help your baby self-settle and self-soothe back to sleep if they stir in the night. 

The white sounds produced are always neutral and soothing and usually come with a range of additional sounds that you can experiment with that suit your baby best (rain, bird noises, waterfall, etc). 

A white noise machine can also help disguise your movements around the bedroom while your baby is still sleeping in your room.

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Dreamegg White Noise Machine - 21 Soothing Sounds

White noise machines are a game-changer for your little one's sleep and having one that plays all night is a must. With a long-lasting battery, this compact and stylish white noise machine contains 21 non-stop relaxing noises, which will lull your little one to sleep night after night, no matter where you are!

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2. Establish A Bedtime Routine

We all know the importance of a constant and recognisable bedtime routine but a predictable sleep routine not only helps signal to your baby that it’s time to rest… 

It will also ensure they sleep for longer and more soundly. 

A bath, followed by a bedtime story or a gentle song, can get your baby prepared for sleep as they relax and unwind.

As always consistency is key so try to perform the bedtime routine at the same time and in the same way each night. This will help your little one feel secure and more relaxed, promoting deeper sleep.

3. Create An Ideal Sleep Environment

As babies grow they become more aware of their surroundings and are more likely to be disturbed by noises and lights once they are asleep. 

Therefore, creating a sleep space for your baby that is conducive to sleep will help them slumber more soundly. 

It is important to keep the room cool and dark using blackout curtains if necessary. Babies sleep best when they’re comfortable so ensure the room temperature is at the correct temperature for the time of year. 

The best temperature for baby’s bedroom is between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.

Consider using a baby monitor too. A baby monitor allows you to check on your baby without physically having to go too near them and therefore running the risk of disturbing them.

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Sense-U Smart Baby Monitor + App

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4. Use Appropriate Sleepwear

Just like adults, babies sleep better when they are comfy!

Therefore, ensuring your baby is wearing comfortable sleepwear that is season-appropriate is important in ensuring that discomfort is not the cause of their waking.

For newborns, swaddling can help your baby sleep more soundly as the ‘startle reflex’ is often the cause of newborn wakings and this can be significantly helped by wrapping your little one in a swaddle.

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My Top Pick
5.0
  • Promotes a snug and secure feeling
  • Great design with an interior zipper guard
  • Simplifies diaper changes with bottom opening zipper
  • Machine washable on a cold wash and gentle tumble dry
  • Large variety of sizes and tog weights
  • 100% cotton - perfect for soft sensitive skin
Great For Colder Climates
5.0
  • Customizable swaddling options to help your baby transition from swaddle to sleeping sack
  • Bottom zipper for convenient diaper changes
  • Recognized as "Hip Healthy" by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute
Perfect For 'Arms Up' Babies
5.0
  • Supports baby's self-soothing by allowing arms up position
  • Swift diaper changes due to two-way zipper design
  • Recognized by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute
  • Comes in different tog weights

5. Offer A Pacifier

Sucking on a pacifier can be calming for babies and provides a source of comfort that alleviates nighttime waking.

However, be warned that for younger babies, you may need to pop the pacifier back into their mouths for them should it fall out at night. 

That being said, as your baby grows, they will be able to replace the pacifier themselves helping them to self-settle without your intervention. If age-appropriate ensure pacifiers are readily available within reach for your baby in their crib.

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NUK Comfy Orthodontic Pacifiers: Timeless Collection, 0-6 Months

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6. Get Outside Every Day

I cannot stress the importance of getting outside into the fresh air and being in natural light for both you and your baby. 

Getting outside stimulates your baby’s circadian rhythm and balances melatonin levels which promotes healthy and sound sleep in your baby.

To learn more about the importance of melatonin in your baby’s sleep cycle, read this post: Baby Melatonin: The Facts From A Sleep Expert

7. Avoid Overstimulation And Overtiredness Before Bedtime

If your baby is overtired or overstimulated in the lead-up to sleep they will struggle to stay asleep, be more restless, and more prone to waking. 

This can lead you to think your baby is a light sleeper. 

However, you must watch for your baby’s sleep cues, act accordingly, and keep the lead-up to sleep times calm.

Learn more about handling overtired babies here: How To Handle An Overtired Baby & Finally Get Your Evenings Back!

8. Don’t Be Too Quiet

I know this tip sounds counterintuitive… “Surely being quiet will avoid disturbing baby?” but I have always advised new parents not to create a quiet house, especially if that is not how you normally live. 

Big bangs or sudden noises will disturb anyone but having a radio or TV on at a normal level is fine as is flushing the toilet or just chatting normally in your baby’s sleeping presence. 

If you don’t carry on making normal household noises when your baby sleeps you will end up with a child that can only sleep in silence and this is not sustainable.

Therefore, don’t become paranoid about making noises around your baby while they are sleeping. 

9. Teach Baby To Self-Soothe

If your baby is a light sleeper then it is more important than ever to help them to learn self-soothe. 

Put baby down drowsy but not fast asleep and avoid rocking or feeding them to sleep. If your baby does wake up when you put them down, try not to pick them up but settle them by patting or stroking their tummy instead.

I know putting a baby down to sleep when they’re drowsy but not awake is easier said than done… So to help teach baby to self-soothe, I have written a dedicated post that you can find here that goes into greater detail: How to Self Soothe Baby: The Ultimate Guide To Peace & Calm

If your baby stirs or fusses during the night, give them a chance to go back to sleep on their own. Some babies are noisy sleepers and newborns often make strange noises while sleeping that can be confused with their waking. 

Waiting a short period before entering the room or attending to your baby teaches them the skill of self-soothing. 

This habit will help prevent creating a sleep association with a parent’s presence, which can result in more wakeful nights as they expect you to turn up every time they wake. 

Is It Normal For Babies To Be Light Sleepers?

Yes, it is normal for babies to be light sleepers. 

Babies are naturally restless at certain stages of sleep and can make quite a lot of noise too! They spend more time in lighter stages of sleep, which makes them appear as light sleepers.

This light sleep is beneficial for babies as it allows them to wake up more easily if they need attention. So, while it might be challenging for you as a parent, it’s a protective mechanism for them.

It is important to appreciate that so-called “good sleepers” also wake often, but they simply return to sleep more quickly as they have learned to self-soothe and re-settle without help. 

It is encouraging to note that even if your baby is a light sleeper now and struggles to re-settle without your help, they might develop deeper sleeping habits with age.

You can support your baby’s sleep by creating a consistent bedtime routine, creating a calming and comfortable sleep environment, and encouraging them to learn to self-soothe. 

If sleep issues persist or cause concern, a healthcare provider can offer personalized advice.

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly through a healthy nighttime routine? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

How Do Sleep Cycles Change For Light Sleeping Babies?

During the night, babies pass through different sleep stages, including non-REM sleep and REM sleep (rapid eye movement).

In non-REM sleep, babies enter a deep sleep where the body can rest and recover. This stage is crucial for growth and development. 

Light-sleeping babies might not stay in deep sleep as long and as a result they are more likely to wake or shift to lighter sleep stages at the slightest disturbance.

The overall pattern of a baby’s sleep cycle differs slightly from adults.

A typical sleep cycle for an infant is shorter, usually lasting around 40-50 minutes, as opposed to the adult cycle of approximately 90 minutes. 

For light sleepers, this can mean more frequent awakenings and less time spent in each cycle’s deep sleep segments.

As babies grow, be encouraged that their sleep patterns typically mature, and the amount of time spent in each stage can change. 

The truth is that a light sleeper will need your help by helping them learn to self-settle and create the best sleeping environment to give them the best opportunity to not be disturbed.

Can You Train A Baby To Sleep Deeper?

You cannot train a baby to sleep deeper… However, you can teach babies to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own when they wake.

Gentle sleep training methods accompanied with the 9 tips I outlined earlier in this post will guide you on your way to fuller nights.

When Do Babies Start Sleeping Deeper?

Deep sleep, also known as quiet sleep, begins to take shape around the 3 to 6 month mark. During this time, sleep cycles – which include stages of both REM and non-REM sleep – become more defined.

Initially, babies spend more time in REM sleep, which is a lighter and more active form of sleep.

As your little one gets older, the duration of deep non-REM sleep increases. This is often when you might notice your baby becomes a good sleeper, as they begin to sleep through more distractions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Light Sleeping Babies

Understanding your baby’s sleep patterns can help address common concerns with light sleep during the day and at night.

Q: Why is my baby a light sleeper during the day?

A: Babies go through more frequent sleep cycles than adults and spend more time in lighter stages of sleep during the day. This natural rhythm means they can wake up easily from noises or light. Ensuring a calm environment conducive to sleep can help your baby sleep more soundly.

Q: How can I improve my baby’s sleep during the day?

A: While newborns can pretty much sleep anywhere they very soon become aware of their surroundings and are more sensitive to sounds. To improve your baby’s sleep during the day, try mimicking nighttime conditions. Use blackout curtains to create a dark environment and consider white noise to drown out disruptive sounds. Consistent nap times can also establish a routine that supports longer, more restful naps.

Q: Is it OK for a baby to sleep with a night light?

A: Having a night light in your baby’s room can be comforting for some infants and can make nighttime visits easier for you. However, it’s important to choose a dim, warm-colored light that won’t disrupt their sleep. Light can signal your baby’s brain to wake up, so keeping the room as dark as possible is often more conducive to sleep.

Q: What causes a baby to become a restless sleeper?

A: Restlessness in sleeping babies can be caused by several factors, including overstimulation before bedtime, discomfort, or developmental milestones. Teething or illnesses can also disrupt your baby’s sleep. Maintaining a soothing bedtime routine and a comfortable sleep environment can help reduce restlessness.

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Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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