Getting a baby to sleep at night is probably one of the biggest challenges parents face during the first year. It's certainly a hot topic of conversation. Some experts believe that you should let him "cry it out" so that he learns to go to sleep on his own, but if you can't stand the thought of this, you need to turn to other methods. Though the process can be challenging, it's helpful to remember that "this, too, shall pass."
Drowsy Sleep Techniques
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, putting your baby to sleep in her crib while she's drowsy, but not sleepy, can help her learn to fall asleep on her own. To do this, you need to recognize the signs your baby is getting sleepy, which can range from eye rubbing to mild fussing. Some babies are perfectly content to lay in the crib on their own while you walk away. Others might need a bit more encouragement. You can pull a chair up next to your baby's bed, singing her a song and perhaps rubbing her tummy until she falls asleep.
Parenting to Sleep
Many babies are not able to sleep on their own and need help from their parents to fall asleep. Techniques to "parent your child to sleep" include rocking or nursing him until he falls asleep. If you're going to do this, it's important to wait until your child has entered a deep sleep stage before trying to place him in his bed. This typically takes about 20 minutes, according to AskDrSears.com.
A Bedtime Ritual
Developing a standard bedtime ritual can help your baby's body learn when it's time to sleep. For example, you might give her a bath, massage her body for a few minutes, nurse her to fill up her little belly, then place her in her crib and sing a song until she sleeps. As your baby gets older, you might include reading a story. It's important to develop a routine surrounding nap time as well, according to AskDrSears.com.
Sharing a Room
Consider sharing a room with your child during the first year, whether he's in a crib or co-sleeper. Young babies don't yet have the ability to go through the night without a feeding, so you should expect him to wake up. If he's in the same room with you, it's easier to hear him wake up before his needs reach the stage when he'll start crying. If you are calm, quiet and matter-of-fact about this nighttime feeding, he'll go right back to sleep.
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