Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through The Nightby Elizabeth Keefe
One of the hardest tasks in the first year of a baby's life is getting him to sleep through the night. When my husband and I brought our daughter, Cassi, home from the hospital we expected sleepless nights. Well, we lucked out. All she seemed to want to do was sleep. In fact, I couldn't keep her awake long enough to finish nursing her. But I 'm sure you don't want to hear about how lucky we were. Cassi slept on my chest every night for the first month. I wouldn't have had it any other way. She was part of me for 9 months and I was not about to tell her to go sleep by herself.
The tough part was when it was time to move her to her own bed. As she became more comfortable with her new home and surroundings we tried to get her to sleep in her crib. Well, she didn't want anything to do with that! She was hurt. She felt abandoned. For all she new, we just fell off the earth. Babies do not understand that the world is a big place. When Mommy and Daddy are not in sight, they do not realize that they are coming right back. It took a couple of days for her to accept this new arrangement. During that time, Scott and I read everything we could about getting a baby to sleep on her own. Here's what we found:
Give Your Baby A Routine
Babies learn best though routine. Every night, right before bed, we would conduct this little "going to bed" ritual. Scott gave Cassi a bath, I got her dressed in her jammies, We read her a story, and then I nursed her until she went to sleep. I would then place her in her crib. At first she cried, so I continued nursing her until she was better and tried to put her down again.
As the months went by, I would end the nursing earlier and earlier until she was comfortable being put in her crib, before she was completely asleep. Cassi is now almost one year old. We continue this ritual every night, except she now tells me when she's ready to be put down.
Put Your Baby To Sleep In The Same Place Every Time
This one may be difficult for women who work, and put their babies in day care. It is best to have you baby go to sleep in the same place. Including naps. This way when he is put down in his crib or bassinet he will understand that it it time to go to sleep. If he is sleeping in a variety of different places, he could get confused.
All Pre-bed Activities Should Be Spent In The Baby's Room
As your baby gets older he will learn through association. If every night you go into her room to get ready for bed, she will understand that it's time to go to sleep. Her bedroom should be for sleeping only. The last thing you want is for your baby to associate her bedroom with play time.
Tell Your Baby Every Night "When It's Time To Go To Sleep"
Even in the early months, if you say this every night, your baby will associate you saying "it's time to go to sleep" with sleeping. Of course he wont understand right away, but when he does, he will not argue. Now when I tell Cassi, "It's time to go go to sleep", or "It's time to take a nap", she crawls up into my arms, puts her head down and waits for me to lay her in her crib.
Of course every baby is different. Some babies need more sleep than others. Some babies need more attention than others. I do not agree with letting a baby cry themselves to sleep. Doing so may be interpreted by the baby as you are not there for him. If you are spending sleepless nights, rocking and carrying you baby - trying to get her to sleep, she is not ready to go to sleep on her own. Try letting her sleep with you and try again in a couple months. Many parents are finding the concept of Attachment Parenting preferable. Attachment Parenting is a concept adopted by Dr's William and Martha Sears. They have found that this works best and eliminates some unnecessary sleepless nights.
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