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Pop quiz. Which of these do you agree with?
My child is a great sleeper.
He falls asleep as soon as he’s tired.
Phrase “sleeping like a baby” is not about my child.
He would only sleep in a car seat/rocking chair/my chest.
How to teach a baby to put himself to sleep. No cry-it-out method
If you agreed with the first 2 statements, – congratulations! You officially have an easy baby.
If you agreed with the second two, you’re probably researching all possible parenting resources to get your child sleep well and have your sanity back.
Well, you’re not the only. Welcome to the “parents club” where kids simply don’t sleep. I’ve been there, I know what it’s like to spend hours of rocking baby to sleep.
When my daughter was born, I never knew how to put a baby to sleep. I just followed the usual unspoken guidance and rocked her in my arms until she would drift off.
And while at the beginning it was easy and quick, over time I started to notice that it took more and more time to get her to sleep. What made the situation more difficult is the appearance of 30-40 minute naps.
There were times when I would spend 30 min rocking her to sleep and then she would sleep 30 min only. It was just exhausting! My wrists were so sore.
That’s when I started reading all possible literature on baby’s sleep. I still have a stack of those books at home. And while many methods of putting baby to sleep required different variations of cry-it out method, I just couldn’t do it. Even despite my huge exhaustion, I couldn’t let my daughter cry-it-out.
It wasn’t until I discovered a couple of very similar methods, when I realised that sleeping techniques for babies can be less drastic. My main goal was to teach my daughter to fall asleep independently without any help.
I successfully taught my daughter to fall asleep independently when she was 4 months old. A couple of my friends had the same good results with this technique and I want to share with you the main principles of no cry sleep training.
So you’ve probably heard that you should put baby to sleep awake. Sounds unrealistic, right? Especially when they scream their lungs out.
But here’s the deal. You have to prepare baby before putting him into his crib awake. If your child has just been playing with your husband or enjoying his musical mobile over the head, now may not be the best time to put him in his crib.
Step # 1. Watch for baby’s sleep signs.
Babies have different awake time depending on their age. Newborns usually stay awake for about 45 min – 1 hour, while 6 months old baby would play for 2-2.5 hours before he’s ready for some sleep. It’s good to know these awake times so that you could easily find when your child is ready to sleep. In addition to this, it’s important to see baby’s sleep cues: yawning, rubbing eyes, slower motions, appears disinterested. As soon as you notice some of these signs and you see the timing is right for a nap, start with a step #2.
Step #2. Establish a good wind-down routine.
Regardless of your baby’s age, he absolutely needs some quiet time before going to sleep. Younger babies generally need less time to wind-down, older – a bit more. Your child is the main indicator for that. It can be 5-10 min. But the key is to be consistent with this routine. Over time your child will understand that sleep time is coming. Wind-down can be anything that makes him calm and ready to sleep. As an example – read him a calm story, carry in your arms for a little bit, showing different items around the house, close the blinds or curtains, nurse (but don’t let him falling asleep during nursing).
Lovey is a transitional object that your baby will associate his sleep with. It can be a piece of washcloth, a small stuffed toy, or a special security blanket.
You can start introducing lovey as early as 4 months of age. I suggest giving it to your baby only when it’s time to sleep. At first your child won’t understand what is it for, but over time he’ll get the idea.
Step #4. Put baby in a crib awake
I know it’s easier said than done, but it is totally possible. Provided that you followed all the above steps, by the time you put baby down in a crib, he should be calm and ready to sleep. Gently put him down in his crib. However, if you’ve used to rock or nurse him to sleep, most of the time, don’t expect a positive reaction to such step. If he starts crying, tilt forward to his ear, whisper long shhhhh sound and rhythmically but lightly pat him on his back. If crying escalates, you can pick up the baby, calm him down and lay back into his crib. Repeat the previous step if baby is still crying.
When the baby starts to calm down in his crib, you can keep shushing-patting, but as soon as you notice baby starts to fall asleep, stop shushing. You want him to fall asleep on his own and not become dependent on shush-pat.
Consistency is a key. If you keep doing this method for all naps and bedtime, soon you will notice that your baby will not be dependent on you to fall asleep. It can take you as little as 5 days to start seeing results. But it really depends on your baby’s age and temperament. The earlier you start practicing this method, the sooner you’ll see the results.
For older kids, you may try modifying shush-pat technique, since it may be too stimulating for them. Instead, try gently stroking their hair or putting your hand over the shoulder or tummy keeping the shhhhh sound.
Believe me, I know sleep training is hard. Whichever method you choose, it always requires lots of efforts from mom to make it work. Sometimes, I didn’t know whether I could finish what I’ve started. And on days like those you could find me laying in my bed in the middle of the night and googling every possible baby sleep resources to find an easier solution for making babies sleep well. But with my consistent efforts I was able to achieve my goals and teach my kids to fall asleep independently.
If you feel like sleep training is harder than you thought it would be, consider getting personalised help from sleep consultants over at The Baby Sleep Site. Join their Members Area, and enjoy unlimited access to baby sleep e-books, sleep training case studies, tele-seminars, chats with expert sleep consultants, and more – all for as little as $6 a month!
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