Helping Your Infant Sleep
What is the one question that every new set of parents is asked after a month with a newborn at home? They are asked if they are getting any sleep yet. It is common and expected that having a tiny newborn in the home makes a big difference in everyone’s sleep patterns. Most newborns will need to nurse or take a bottle all through the night. It is usually every two hours or with some who are a bit luckier it may be every four hours right from the start.
But after five or six months the nights should be getting better, with longer stretches of time between feedings. Once your baby is done with night feedings, your next task will be helping him or her fall asleep at bedtime and sleeping though the night.
Currently there are several popular methods of “Sleep Training” and a simple google search will lead you to many different sites that may contradict one anther harshly. You will need to sort this out for your self and find what works best for your family and for your baby.
Crying It Out (CIO) is one of the popular training methods. It is not as harsh as it’s name implies so do not ignore the good advice this strategy may suggest. The name clearly makes it sound like you put your baby in the crib, shut the door and walk away until morning no matter how long or hard your baby cries and screams for you. Conversely what CIO prescribes is actually very gentle and gradual but will take some real commitment to carry out. The parents need to be in unity before beginning this method as it does involve inner strength and a few nights of not sleeping much at all.
Crying It Out lays out a plan that involves establishing a good strong sleep ritual before even beginning the method. Set a consistent bedtime, read a book, sing a song or have bath time. Whatever ritual you work out will help your little one begin to realize that bedtime is approaching and his body will begin to set itself to the correct night time/daytime schedule.
Once a good bedtime ritual is setup you may begin by placing the baby in the crib and whispering something familiar like, “Sleepy time now.” And standing next to the crib or bed and patting his or her back until they fall asleep. After a few nights of this, you step farther away from the crib or leave the room and allow the child to cry for a short time like only five minutes. Then you return but do not pick him up, just pat his back again and soothe him to sleep. Next extend the time you wait to ten minutes, returning to sooth him but not picking him up.
This may happen many times a night and you keep extending the stay away time until after several nights your child begins to learn to put himself back to sleep because he knows you are not far away and he has not been abandoned. This teaches your baby that night is for sleep and day is for being awake. If you were to pick him up and feed or play with your baby, you would be stimulating him to think it is daytime again.
One of the great benefits of CIO is that your child will learn to put herself to sleep as soon as you enjoy your family bedtime tradition and will not require your sneaking her into her crib and then trying so hard to quietly tiptoe away. She will be ready to sleep or to lie there a bit and “talk” herself to sleep peacefully knowing you are not far away at all.
Then the whole family will enjoy peaceful nights!