Everyone has heard about the sleep deprivation that comes with having a baby, but until you have gone through it yourself, you really have no idea what it is like to be that tired. For the first few weeks, the whole sleep loss thing is novel, funny even, but after a few months of no consistent sleep, things are starting to get a little old.
The good news is that most babies are ready to learn how to go to sleep on their own around six months of age. Of course, some of us are blessed with babies who start sleeping through the night at six weeks – or at least we’ve heard of such mystical creatures – but most of us have a baby who likes to wake up at night. After all, he has woken up every few hours his entire life be held, snag a clean diaper and then eat until he falls asleep, so why stop now?
Well, little one, it is time to stop now so that you can learn that invaluable lesson of how to go to sleep, through the night and let your exhausted parents get a little rest too.
There are innumerable ways techniques when it comes to teaching your baby to sleep and you must decide which one works best for you. Here is one way that incorporates a gentle but effective method to send the message that it is time to sleep:
– Start a bedtime routine if you do not have one already. This may include a last feeding – but do not let him fall asleep while eating – followed by a clean diaper, pajamas and then a book or two.
– Lay him down, kiss him good night and then gently leave the room.
– Let him cry for 5 minutes (it may feel like forever) and then go in, kiss him again, say good night and leave quietly again. However, do not pick him up. A gentle pat and a kiss is all you need.
– Allow another 5 minutes to pass if he is still crying and then go in to repeat the routine.
– Let the time stretch to 10 minutes and continue until he realizes that it is just not going to work this time and he might as well go to sleep.
Repeat this pattern every time you put that little one down to sleep and within a week at most, you will find that you can lay him down without a peep. Or at least some happy, “Okay, I’ll just hang out and talk to myself for awhile until I get sleepy” peeps, which means he is learning the oh-so-essential skill of going to sleep by himself.
Oh, and one more thing – whatever path you choose to take to get that little one to sleep on their own, be consistent. Nothing is more confusing to a baby than a new system that starts and stops, starts again, and stops again. You will only drag out the process and make it worse for everyone. So make the commitment to help your baby learn to sleep, do the work and before you know it, you will all be slumbering happily.