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While it’s a glorious experience to be a new mom, it’s not a walk in the park. It takes a lot of love, patience, and commitment to make parenthood work. It can be problematic since babies don’t understand the concept of sleep at specific times yet. However, three and four-month-old babies can be coached to stick to a routine. Sleep being a key part of a child’s proper development, it becomes your responsibility to teach your baby ways to have good sleep schedules and therefore, cultivate new and healthy sleeping habits.
Having a good sleep technique doesn’t just ensure that the baby is happy and well, it also allows you to put in good sleep hours to be able to function during the day and be a better parent.
To ensure that baby and you sleep well, here are some tips to teach a baby to fall asleep alone:
1. Study Your Baby’s Sleep Patterns
Let’s get this straight: nobody sleeps through the night; we all wake up for one reason or another. Learning what makes your baby fall asleep and when he wakes up is a great help. Sometimes all that is needed is to tweak the baby’s sleep pattern just a little bit and you are all set.
2. Create More Favourable Routines and Stick to them
Your baby’s sleep pattern may not always work for you; some babies sleep for hours during the day then wake up at night for playtime. To prevent this, you could try waking your baby up during the day to ensure that he sleeps at night. Make a specific bedtime and also wake-up time. Lay the baby down at the same time every day to avoid confusion.
3. Wean the baby from rocking and the need for a Pacifier
As tempting as it is to put the pacifier back into the baby’s mouth when he throws a tantrum, it will create dependence. You want your baby to be able to go back to sleep with or without the pacifier. Furthermore, babies feel safe and sheltered when held and rocking them emphasizes that but as the baby grows older, this becomes difficult.
To wean the baby from this, you should stop rocking the baby as soon as he settles down and closes his eyes. If he objects, which is certain, go back to rocking till he settles then stop again. This allows the baby to learn to fall back to sleep even when situations change.
4. Create a little disturbance when laying the baby in the crib.
This sounds counterintuitive, yes but is very useful. Your baby will most certainly wake up at night, the objective is to show him how to fall back to sleep without your help. Therefore, as you lay the baby down, shake him a little bit, get him to open his eyes. If he cries, soothe him and lay him back down and then shake him again. Slowly, your baby will learn to feel safe in the crib without you having to pick him up.
5. Let the baby cry and delay response time
You will feel guilty when you leave your baby alone while he cries out but this step works and has no effect on the baby’s psychological wellbeing. With your constant love and care, the baby doesn’t suffer when you let him cry. Just check up on him, see if he needs anything then leave the room.
By so doing, the baby starts to learn that he will not always get his way and begin to lean into your routine. You should also stay a few minutes longer when you hear your baby cry, don’t jump up and rush in at every sound, it may just be a sleepy whimper. When you do go into the room, be very quiet and try not to always pick him up.
Here is a video from Taylor Petro sharing her experience on how she taught her baby to sleep alone using a combination of this tip and others.
6. Don’t use feeding as a way to fall asleep
Although it is easy to just let your baby fall asleep while suckling or feeding, it may not yield the required result. When you do this, your baby will not sleep without being breastfed. To counter this, let meal times be far separate from sleep time. Do not let your baby cling to crutches such as suckling, pacifiers and being held. Instead, use soothing words to let the baby know that it’s bedtime. You can say:
- Hey baby, it’s nappy, nappy time. It’s nappy nappy time.
- Sshhhh, sshhhh, sshhhh.
- It’s sleepy time sweetie, it’s sleepy time.
7. Don’t pick up the baby immediately
When you walk into the baby’s room to soothe him in the middle of the night, do not pick the baby up immediately. Touch the baby, lightly pat him on the back to make him fall asleep. If this doesn’t work, then you can pick the baby up and find out whether he needs a diaper change or is hungry.
8. Do not overfeed the baby!
This is a very counterproductive method. It not only begins to create bad eating habits in the child but it also actually wakes the child up. An overfed baby is likely to wake up more often at night due to discomfort or soiled diaper. Using food to make the child weak is similar to breastfeeding the baby to sleep, it creates dependence.
9. Use a white noise machine
The white noise machine helps to drown every noise in and around the baby that can prevent them from sleeping faster or better. It works because the white noise mimics the sound of the womb which is always quiet. Check out the Hatch baby rest sound machine.
10. Consistency is key!
There are many baby sleep techniques, getting one that suits your family may be a case of trial and error. However, when you’ve picked a technique, you must stick to it. Skipping in between and improvising will confuse the baby and also hinder him from having a sleep pattern. Pick a method and work with it to the end in hopes of aiding the child to form his own circadian rhythm.
Don’t be discouraged, practice makes perfect.
Following the above steps to teach a baby to fall asleep alone can be challenging but highly rewarding. You will be met with some resistance from the baby as you try to shape his sleep routine. Babies less than six months old are usually very good at adjusting to your routine while those older may want you to adhere to theirs! Practice is key. As you apply these methods, you and your baby will have more restful nights.
It is time to teach a baby to fall asleep alone now.