Solving Baby’s Sleep Problems: It’s Time to Sleep

If you’re a parent with a young child, here’s a question that might make you yawn: what were you doing this morning at 1 a.m. M., At 3 a. M. Or at 5 a.m. M.? Were you sleeping like a baby or were you actually hugging and rocking your little cherub in an attempt to make him fall asleep? After all, that’s what being a father is all about, right?

A lucky few will have been sleeping in bed through the night, but a large percentage of the parent population will have been feeding or pacing the floor with the little bundles of joy.

Just as your newborn weaves magic through your heart, the effects of lack of sleep can cast a spell on your body and mind. One in three children have real sleep problems before they reach school age, but these can be overcome in many cases, and it doesn’t have to involve leaving your baby crying for hours on end.

So why don’t little children sleep?

We all sleep in cycles consisting of blocks of light and deep sleep. If you rock your baby to sleep or let him sleep on your breast before putting him to bed, you are heading for trouble. Your baby goes into a light sleep phase and is more likely to wake up when he realizes that he is alone. They will cry, you will return to them and since you know no other way, you will pick them up, rock them to sleep and put them back on their cot. And the cycle continues!

Path of common sense

Controlled comfort was devised by Australian nurse Rhonda Abrahams. It is kinder than controlled crying. “You should never let a baby younger than 6 months cry,” says Ronda, “you shouldn’t let older babies cry for more than 10 minutes.”

Rhonda based her technique on common sense. “Babies need to learn to fall asleep on their own so that if they wake up at night, they can go back to sleep,” he explains. To work, the techniques must be used for all types of sleep, or your baby will receive mixed messages. And the little ones learn by repetition. Therefore, you should adopt this routine for both day and night.

Ready or not?

Before starting the program …

Make sure your baby is okay. If they get sick just as the new routine begins, stop and start over when they get better.

Make sure you are okay; neither of you will do any good starting a new routine while your body is under stress.

Try to have a free week enough to put in as much time and effort as possible to make the routine work. A busy schedule will make it more difficult and take longer to work.

If someone else cares about your baby, make sure they know what’s involved – nothing sabotages a new routine as quickly as mixed messages.

Get a dim nightlight so your baby can see his surroundings when he wakes up.

It’s just a routine

A regular routine is the surest way to get an infant or toddler to sleep independently. Youngsters respond to a familiar pattern of events, and sleeping in the same environment each night gives them a sense of security and comfort. Establishing a bedtime routine will benefit not only your child, but also “you and your partner as you can have some adult quiet time.”

Encourage patterns in your newborn’s life, as these will become routine, and babies learn from repetition. Keep in mind that a habit can be formed in just three days!

The best way to establish a routine is to use the feeding / play / sleep method. During the day your baby wakes up, feed him and then let him play for a while. Watch out for signs of tiredness (yawning, rubbing eyes, gray hair, hiding face). When you notice them, you will need to start solving them. Snuggle up before a nap during the day; in the afternoons, give them a relaxing bath. Baby massage can also calm him down. Never overstimulate your child before going to bed or think that the longer you keep him awake, the more tired he will become and the easier it will be to put him to sleep. An overly tired baby is more difficult to settle down, and if you wait until he is tired to start his last feed, he will fall asleep while feeding. The main challenge with this is that your baby will be scared when he wakes up alone in the crib and wonders where you are; after all, when they fell asleep, they were in your arms!

Settlement – Newborn – 6 months

Unless your baby is unusually cooperative, be prepared to cry a bit; it helps to have someone else support you.

1. Wrap your baby tightly, but not tightly, in a small blanket or stroller sheet, covering her hands to help her feel more secure and to avoid catching her face if she fidgets.

2. Place them on their bunk on their side so they are not looking away (avoid eye contact) and with their feet near the end of the bunk. Remember that this is not the position in which they will sleep; it will put them on their backs once they are asleep. In the meantime, they won’t take any damage, as you’ll be in the room with them at all times. Look at the clock and note the time. You’re going to give them 15 minutes to settle.

3. They have probably already started crying. Place one hand on her shoulder and gently pat her back or pat her butt gently with your other hand. They will probably keep crying.

4. If, after 15 minutes, they are still crying and show no signs of calming down, pick them up and give them a hug (don’t rock them to sleep, remember this is what you are trying to avoid).

5. Once they have calmed down, put them back on their bunk, this time facing away, and try another 15-minute period to get settled. Put a hand on their shoulder and pat or stroke them, as before. If they begin to calm down, remove your hand; the idea is for your baby to calm down.

6. Once your baby is sound asleep, gently roll him onto his back, loosen the wrap, and leave.

7. If your baby is still crying, pick him up, cuddle him, and start over.

The most important thing is perseverance. New routines take time, but think about how much more enjoyable parenting will be when you get a good night’s sleep.

Settlement 6 – 12 months

Again, it will be helpful to have support. With this technique, your baby will never be left alone crying for more than ten minutes at a time. Are you ready? Well here it goes!

1. Put your baby on his back in the crib. Make sure their feet are at the foot of the bed and tell them “It’s time to sleep now.” Exit the room and wait two minutes. You want to give your baby a chance to fall asleep on his own. As soon as they realize they are alone, they are likely to start protesting. If they don’t settle in 2 minutes, go back inside.

2. Turn them sideways, with their back to you. Put one hand on her shoulder and keep gently stroking her lower or upper thigh with your other hand. Do this for two minutes, repeating the words “It’s time to sleep now” in a soft, soothing voice. If the baby is still protesting after two minutes, leave the room and wait outside, this time for four minutes.

3. If they haven’t settled yet, go back and try, this time for four minutes. Next time, it will be six minutes, then eight minutes, and finally ten minutes.

4. In the unlikely event that after the ten minute session they are still not settled, take them out of the crib, give them a hug, calm them (making sure not to rock them to sleep), and when they have resolved to repeat the process.

You will notice that your child’s crying will reach a peak and then subside, often very quickly, until he finally falls asleep.

As stated throughout this article, the key to success is perseverance. If you follow this routine to the letter, within 3 to 10 days, your baby should be sleeping through the night and be able to fall asleep again if you wake up.

Good luck and happy dream!

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