Sleep Training

Q: Did you hear about the parent that named their baby Caffeine?

A:  Apparently she was keeping them up all night.

Getting your baby to sleep is one of the most frustrating parts of having a newborn. But rest assured, it will end eventually and doing the right things now will help create a good sleeper for the future. 

First of all, it is unrealistic to expect a baby that is less than four months to sleep through the night. Some babies will, but most will need to wake and feed every couple hours. For babies that are less than four months it is important to try to establish a pattern, even though your baby will not follow it. The rule should be that when the “sun is down” and she wakes to feed, you should quietly change, feed, then put her right back down to sleep. Try not to turn on the lights, sing or make eye contact. The idea is to not stimulate her more and re-enforce the waking behavior during the night. 

Once the feeding and burping are complete, put her down to sleep flat on her back in her own crib. It is ok to put her down if she is still awake. Doing this teaches her that she needs to learn how to fall asleep on her own. In the beginning most babies will cry for a while after being put down. Once your baby is a month old or so, try letting your baby cry for 30 minutes to 1 hour before you go back in to repeat the change-feed-sleep cycle. Now most parents, including myself, are unable to do this initially. But with time, your child will sleep for longer periods of time. 

Most babies by the time they are six months old do not need to be fed during the night. If your baby does wake in the middle of the night, try letting them cry for 10 minutes after waking then, just as before, quietly change and put right down. Repeat as needed in 30 minute to 1 hour intervals.

By nine months most babies have learned to manipulate their environment (you). This is the age that many will frequently wake, talk or cry out just to have you come in the room and comfort them. Even babies that slept just fine up to this point will push your limits a bit. Don’t give in and especially do not bring them into your bed to sleep. That is what he wants and once there it will be very difficult to get back to his own bed. After nine months of age many parents will blame teething on night waking. That may be the case, and if you think he’s uncomfortable offer some pain medicine. But the most likely cause is that he figured out how to get your attention, and since nine-month-olds have a stronger will than most parents, he will keep pushing until he gets into your bed.

Good luck, and sleep well!