Let Your Baby Cry It Out
One crying-it-out type of sleep training is the well-known Ferber Method, also known as “Progressive Watching” or “Graduated Extinction.” The goal is to teach your baby how to sleep on their own and put themselves back to sleep if they wake up during the night. Richard Ferber, MD, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital Boston, developed this method. He advises parents not to start this training until their baby is at least 5 or 6 months old. Heres an overview of how its done:
- Put your baby in their crib — drowsy, but awake. Once you’ve finished their bedtime routine, leave the room.
- If your baby cries, wait a few minutes before you check on them. The amount of time you wait depends on you and your baby. You might start waiting somewhere between 1 and 5 minutes.
- When you re-enter your babys room, try to console them. But do not pick them up and do not stay for more than 2 or 3 minutes, even if they are still crying when you leave. Seeing your face will be enough to assure your baby that you are close by so they can eventually fall asleep on their own.
- If they continue crying, gradually increase the amount of time you wait before going in to check on them again. For instance, if you wait 3 minutes the first time, wait 5 minutes the second time, and 10 minutes each time after that.
- The next night, wait 5 minutes the first time, 10 minutes the second time, and 12 minutes each time after that.
Be Strategic With Diaper Changes
Changing your babys diaper can be a stimulus for your little one, making it difficult for her to go back to sleep. If diaper changing is revving up your baby, you may want to choose to limit changes to just poopy diapers and diapers that are exceptionally wet. Lightly wet diapers can wait until the morning. The tradeoff will be longer, more uninterrupted sleep at night for you and your baby.
Nighttime Decisions When Getting Baby To Sleep
Develop a realistic attitude about nighttime parenting
Sleeping, like eating, is not a state you can force a baby into. The best you can do is to create a secure environment that allows sleep to overtake your baby. A realistic long- term goal is to help your baby develop a healthy attitude about sleep. Baby should feel that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a secure state to remain in. Many sleep problems in older children and adults stem from children growing up with an unhealthy attitude about sleep. Such as sleep was not a pleasant state to enter and was a fearful state to remain in. Just as daytime parenting is a long-term investment, so is nighttime parenting. Teach your baby a restful attitude about sleep when they are young. By doing this, both you and your children will sleep better when they are older.
Beware of sleep trainers
- Does this advice sound sensible, will it fit your babys temperament and does it feel right to you?
Sleep training may result in long-term loss
Using the rigid, insensitive let-him-cry-it-out method has several problems. First, it will undermine the trust your baby has for nighttime comfort. Second, it will prevent you from working at a style of nighttime parenting until you find the one that works best for you and your family, and third, it may keep you and your doctor from uncovering hidden medical causes of night waking. Night feedings are normal frequent, painful night waking is not.
Stay flexible when putting baby to sleep
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Helping Your Baby Fall Asleep
Babies may not be able to create their own sleeping and waking patterns. Surprisingly, not all babies know how to put themselves to sleep. And not all babies can go back to sleep if they are awakened in the night. When it is time for bed, many parents want to rock or breastfeed a baby to help him or her fall asleep. Creating a bedtime routine is a good idea. But don’t let your baby fall asleep in your arms. This may become a pattern. And your baby may begin to expect to be in your arms in order to fall asleep. When your baby briefly wakes up during a sleep cycle, they may not be able to go back to sleep on their own.
Babies who feel secure are better able to handle separations, especially at night. Cuddling and comforting your baby during the day can help him or her feel more secure. Other ways to help your baby learn to sleep include:
Conditioning Baby To Fall Asleep
Sleep is not a state you can force your baby into. Sleep must naturally overtake your baby. Your nighttime parenting role is to set the conditions that make sleep attractive and to present cues that suggest to baby that sleep is expected. Try the following sleep tight tips, which may vary at different stages in your babys development. What doesnt work one week may work the next.
Get baby used to a variety of sleep associations
The way an infant goes to sleep at night is the way she expects to go back to sleep when she awakens. So, if your infant is always rocked or nursed to sleep, she will expect to be rocked or nursed back to sleep. Sometimes nurse her off to sleep, sometimes rock her off to sleep, sometimes sing her off to sleep, and sometimes use tape recordings, and switch off with your spouse on putting her to bed. There are two schools of thought on the best way to put babies to sleep: the parent-soothing method and the self-soothing method. Both have advantages and possible disadvantages:
1. Parent-soothing method. When baby is ready to sleep, a parent or other caregiver helps baby make a comfortable transition from being awake to falling asleep, usually by nursing, rocking, singing, or whatever comforting techniques work.
Baby learns a healthy sleep attitude that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a secure state to remain in.
Creates fond memories about being parented to sleep.
Builds parent-infant trust
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Lay The Baby Down Awake But Drowsy
The most important way to encourage your newborn to sleep in the long run is to teach him to fall asleep independently, which is essentially the beginnings of teaching independent sleep.
Babies, like adults, will naturally wake up during the night. Without knowing how to get back to sleep, a baby will cry out after waking regardless of actual need, resulting in night waking droning on for much longer than is actually necessary.
Once a baby gets older, falling asleep independently enables a baby to drift back to sleep after waking in the night, ultimately helping your baby sleep better in the long run.
You can start by settling your baby into a drowsy state with your newborn baby routine, then lay your baby down in their safe sleep space. If needed, place a gentle but firm hand over your babies chest while he drifts off.
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Tip : Developing A Consistent Routine
Inconsistency is the number one cause of short naps and an erratic sleep routine. So now that you have learnt their signs of sleepiness, lets see how we can develop a consistent routine.
I say a consistent routine, rather than a schedule, because “schedule” suggests having a set time, while “routine” suggests having consistent activities that lead to nap time which then develops a more predictable schedule.
Until about 6 weeks, your baby wont have a set bedtime or schedule. The fact is, they sleep so frequently that its almost obsolete. However, by as early as 4 to 6 weeks, youll notice a level of consistency emerge in his or her sleep pattern. Your baby’s naps will consolidate into fewer but longer naps instead of the short bursts that your newborn would take. Regardless, its never too early to begin implementing some form of a routine whether its swaddling, rocking, or shushing. Anything that can become your babys cue that its time to sleep.
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Week : Show Your Newborn The Difference Between Night And Day
Newborns dont know the difference between night and day when they are born. Thats one of the reasons why they are up and down at all hours. To acclimate their body clocks to the rhythms of your day introduce your newborn to the concept of night and day.
This important newborn sleep tip will help them set their internal clocks to be awake more during the day and sleep for longer stretches at night eventually.
To do this create a stark contrast to day and night in your home.
During the day keep lighting and noise at a normal level. Where ever baby naps keep the room from being pitch black. Play music in the background. Do most of your activities during the day.
At night soften the environment. Turn down the lights and the volume. Slow down the pace of life. When putting baby down at night draw the shades closed and make the room dark.
Over time your newborn will adjust and with it adjust their awake and sleep hours.
Settling Babies Aged 0 To 6 Months
Babies need to learn the skill of going to sleep and parents can help.
In the first 6 months, you could try holding your baby in your arms until they fall asleep. Use gentle rhythmic patting, rocking, stroking, talking, or softly singing before putting your baby into the cot asleep. These repetitions signal relaxation and sleep.
You could also try ‘hands-on settling’, where you place the baby in the cot awake and gently pat or stroke them till they fall asleep, comforting them with gentle ‘ssshhh’ sounds.
If your baby becomes or stays distressed, pick them up for a cuddle until calm or asleep before putting your baby back in the cot. Stay with them until they fall asleep.
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Establish A Bedtime Routine
Its never too early to get a bedtime routine started. Your bedtime routine should be simple and sustainable, so its easy for you to do every night. Even the smallest change in your babys routine can leave them feeling off, and suddenly waking more frequently at night. Include calming, soothing activities that your baby seems to respond to, like swaddling and shushing. The bedtime routine can be where you create positive sleep associations for your baby.
Keep A Plush Toy In Your Babys Crib
A soft, small plush toy that your baby can associate with sleep time will help him stay calm and also feel secure, so keep one in his bed. If your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, he might snuggle with it and fall asleep.
If your babys sleep pattern is not interrupting your routine, you can allow your baby to ease into sleeping at night for long hours gradually. However, if you find that you could use some extra sleep to beat sleep deprivation, you can try these methods to help your baby get a sound sleep.
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The Camping Out Method
Camping Out or the Chair Method is staying in babys room with them in order to help your baby settle. You can sit in a chair or place a bed or mattress to lie next to your baby while you pat or stroke baby into sleep. Then your gradually reduce the amount of time you spend settling baby with touch. Eventually, you start to move your chair or mattress away from the crib and out of your babys room. According to Sleep.org, Some parents find it easier not to leave their baby alone while they cry. However, if you’re still in the room when your baby falls asleep, they might be distressed when they wake up in the middle of the night and you are no longer there.
What To Do If A Newborn Is Sleeping Too Much
Usually, a newborn who appears to be sleeping too much is just sleeping on an irregular schedule.
Nevertheless, health issues such as respiratory infections that are minor annoyances in older babies can be much more dangerous in newborns. So, anyone who is concerned about a babys sleeping schedule should consult a pediatrician.
Some strategies to try before calling the doctor include:
- feeding the baby every time they show hunger cues
- offering the baby the breast, the chest, or a bottle every 12 hours to ensure adequate food intake
- making sure that the baby is not too cold or too hot
- keeping a log of the babys sleep schedule for 12 days
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Irritants That Interfere With Getting Baby To Sleep Through The Night
Remember, many high need babies are hypersensitive to noise and uncomfortable irritants. While most infants are not awakened by these stimuli, super-sensitive babies are. As much as you can, minimize noises that startle and bodily discomforts that irritate. This requires putting on your detective cap, analyzing your babys sleeping environment, and, as much as possible, removing any stimuli that could make getting baby to sleep through the night difficult. Use the following checklist as your guide.
- Environmental irritants. The same things that can cause a stuffy nose can also cause general irritability at night.
- Startling noises: Oil squeaky cribs, warn older siblings not to slam doors, remove noisy clocks, etc. Sounds that are sudden, loud, and unfamiliar interfere with getting baby to sleep through the night. Other sounds may settle them.
- Irritating sleepwear. Some babies cannot settle in synthetic sleepwear. Change to 100 percent cotton clothing to see if your baby sleeps better.
So I came home and put him in 100% cotton diapers, cotton clothes, cotton blanket, and cotton bedding. I couldnt believe it! I had a new baby in my arms. He was totally calm and content. He even started cooing and smiling and seemed happy. It seemed too good to be true, but the next day he even took several naps! Just like a real baby!
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How To Get A Newborn To Sleep Through The Night
This article was co-authored by Laura Marusinec, MD. Dr. Marusinec is a board certified Pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where she is on the Clinical Practice Council. She received her M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine in 1995 and completed her residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Pediatrics in 1998. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Society for Pediatric Urgent Care. This article has been viewed 185,245 times.
Most parents have newborn babies that cannot sleep through the night. This is completely normal even if it is exhausting to you as a parent. By setting up daily and nightly routines and managing your expectations, both you and your newborn can eventually get a full night of sleep, However, since newborns usually feed every two to three hours, you should not expect to get a full night’s sleep for a few months.