Everyone’s dream baby is one that sleeps for several hours straight every night. But that’s not generally the reality. Here are three strategies for better baby sleep for both the baby’s sake and your sake.
Strategy 1: Soothing Your Baby to Sleep
One of the keys to this strategy is to use a consistent schedule that starts at the same time each night and includes a 20 to 30 minute bedtime routine. Your bedtime routine can vary depending on the preferences of your baby but can include things such as a warm bath, a lullaby, dimmed lights, or rocking. The idea is to send signals to your baby that it is time to settle down and go to sleep.
When it’s time for bed, put your baby in his crib while he is drowsy but not fully asleep. Walk away quietly, leaving him to fall asleep. If he starts crying try to soothe him with the sound of your voice or a soft song but do not pick him up as tempting as it will be. Eventually, he will to fall back asleep on his own when he wakes up.
Strategy 2: Stretching Out the Physical Distance Between You and Your Baby
Put your baby in her crib while she’s sleepy but not fully asleep. Sit in a chair next to her crib. If she fusses or cries, gently rub her head and soothe her with your voice. Only pick her up if she gets hysterical. Once she calms down, start the process again.
Once your baby is asleep, it’s okay to leave the room. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, repeat these steps. For three or four days use this strategy at bedtime, naptime and during the night when she wakes up.
On the fourth or fifth day, move your chair about halfway across the baby’s room. After a week, move your chair to the doorway of the baby’s room. In three more days, move your chair to the hallway but still in view of your baby’s room. Do this for three more nights. At this point your baby should be sleeping through the night on her own.
Strategy 3: Crying It Out
Once again, start with a consistent nighttime routine that calms your baby down and sends him signals that it is time for bed. Be sure to put him in his crib at the same time every night, even if he doesn’t seem sleep yet. Walk quietly out of the room.
When (not if) your child starts to cry the first night, wait five minutes before checking on him. Then speak softly and soothingly to him for two or three minutes but avoid the temptation to pick him up.
The next night, when he cries, wait ten minutes before checking on him. On third night extend the time to 15 minutes before checking on him. If he is still crying after 15 minutes, continue using a 15-minute window before going in to check on him. Eventually, he will begin sleeping through the night without fussing.