It’s easy to allow your baby to develop difficult sleep habits that might create challenges when it’s time for sleep. If your baby’s sleep associations involve you helping her fall asleep, she might demand this assistance from you every time she goes to sleep. Instead, you can gently and lovingly teach your little one how to fall asleep independently. Once your baby learns these important sleep skills, everyone will probably sleep better.
Create a set bedtime routine for your infant that includes comforting and relaxing activities. A bedtime routine helps relax your baby so he becomes drowsy. This calming routine also provides security for a little one because you spend quality time with him and he knows what to expect about bedtime, advises the National Sleep Foundation website. The routine might include a bath, a final feed and gentle rocking in a rocking chair before you tuck him in.
Place your baby into her crib on her back after completing the routine. Optimally, your little one will be awake, but sleepy.
Offer your baby a pacifier to help him self-soothe and relax for sleep. Using a pacifier at sleep times can help reduce risk of sudden infant death syndrome, notes HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Talk softly to your baby for about a minute and then ease away from the crib out of your baby’s line of vision.
Listen for your baby to see whether she calms and falls asleep or whether she begins fussing. If she fusses, listen for the level of intensity to determine when you should return to help her calm. Mild or rhythmic fussing probably indicates that she is winding herself down for sleep. Cries that become louder or more frantic indicate that you should go back to your baby to reassure her, advises the Tresillian Parent’s Help Line.
Return to your baby to provide reassurance if he’s becoming increasingly upset. Pat his tummy, rub his head and speak soothingly to him to help him calm down. Continue calming him using these methods until his cries dissipate. Leave the room again after he calms.
Repeat the process of calming your baby and then leaving until she falls asleep. As you initially teach these self-soothing skills, you might need to return to your little one several times. Strive to remain patient and reassuring -- and within about two weeks, or even less, your child should learn independent sleep skills, advises counselor and sleep consultant Kim West, with The Sleep Lady website.
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