18 April 2012

How Do You Get Your Baby to Sleep?

When I recently visited my brother and sister-in-law, I quizzed them about the sleep training techniques they used with their daughter because they have the best-sleeping baby in the family.  Even my mom, The Mom, never got her children to sleep well at night.  I personally managed to sleep badly until I was at least 8-years-old, insisting on joining my parents or my sister in their rooms in the middle of the night because I was fairly certain that my dolls came to life at night with evil intent.  My two-pronged approach to survive a Cabbage Patch Kid attack was to shove my dolls in the linen closet before I went to bed and then to sleep on the floor of an older family member who might be better at person-to-doll combat.

The Bairn is coming up on 3-months-old now, and the Internet tells me that I can start thinking about regulating his sleeping patterns soon.  He's already a pretty good little sleeper.  He pulled his first 5-hour sleeping stretch the night before we left Scotland, a very thoughtful gift for his mama, who was dreading the trip.  Since then he usually manages 4-5 hours at the beginning of the night followed by a couple of shorter stretches.  Last night he slept for 4 hours, went back down and slept for 4 more hours, which leads me to believe that his place in heaven is entirely secure.

Right now we give him a bath about half an hour before we think he'll go down for the night and then I read him a couple of books, nurse him, and rock him to sleep.  It's all pretty quick most nights, especially if the washing machine is running during the process, but I want to be able to lay him down without rocking him at some point.

What are your secrets?  How do you get your kids to sleep?  What time do you put them to bed?  When do they wake up?  Tell me everything.


Jefran said...

Have you got him in his own room yet?

Anonymous said...

So far you are following a time tested pattern. He will let you know when rocking is no longer needed around age 18. Suggest you talk to Grammie she was an expert.


MBC said...

We don't have him in his own room. The midwives suggested he sleep in our room until he's 6 months, so he's in a crib in our room.

eliana23 said...

I have no advice. This is an area I have no skills, but your cabbage patch story made me spew liquid through my nose. So thanks.

Breanne said...

I will never look at cabbage patch dolls the same way again. =) When Jane was 4 months she started sleeping in her own room, which was really more for me than her, since all the cute little baby noises they make while they're asleep can wake me up frequently.

I used to wait for Jane to be in a sleepy state - not entirely awake but not quite asleep yet, either. It was usually right after her nighttime feeding when she was in a milk coma still. We laid her down while she was drowsy and she learned to fall asleep on her own but she had help from the drowsiness.

One other rule I had is that if Jane fell asleep while we were holding her, we had to put her down in the bassinet for the rest of the nap. That way she got used to sleeping in the bassinet as opposed to being held.

Around 4 months you can start the "cry it out" thing where you let them cry themselves to sleep. It's pretty hard emotionally. But you might find the first night you do it, they cry for 30-40 minutes, then the next night they cry for 20 minutes, then the next night it's 5, etc.

"Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby" is the sleep bible according to most of my family and friends.

When Jane started falling into a regular sleep pattern with naps, it was something like a 2 hour nap around 9:00, a 2 hour nap around 1:00, and then a shorter nap around 5:00 or so. Then bedtime around 7 or 8. But I think it took us awhile to get to the point where that was regular. Mostly the rule that I went by when she was really little was: if she's been awake for 2 hours, it's time for a nap.

Sleep schedules are parenting rocket science. Good luck with everything!

Jefran said...

OK. This is my one baby tip (given to me by a midwife)- if baby's putting on weight, then own room. Otherwise he smells the milk. Look at it this way - if you drifted into consciousness and somebody was waving hot toast or a bacon buttie under your nose...would you go just go back to sleep? Love from Scotland!

Nemesis said...

I have friends and family who swear by "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby." I borrowed the book but (and this is me ducking for cover) kind of lucked out and didn't really need to use it much for the night-time sleeping, although I did follow the advice Breanne mentioned about naps (if they've been awake for 2 hours, it's time for a nap). It give good signs of things to look for to tell that your baby is transitioning into a new stage.

TDL just turned out to have an inborn sort of sleeping schedule that was a blessing straight from Heaven. I didn't have a comfortable rocking chair, so I never rocked him to sleep. I'd put him down either when I could tell that he was sleepy or when it was bedtime and he would fall asleep in his crib. As sweet as rocking him to sleep every night would have been, I am glad that I never had to deal with (sometimes traumatic) breaking of that habit like some of my friends did. The night-time routine, though, is supposed to be great for letting them know that THIS is the time for the long sleeping stretch.

This is probably more for use later, but you may need to experiment to find the "sweet spot" bedtime that will result in the most hours of night-time sleep. Some people can put their babies down at 10pm and know they will get their 12 hours of sleep. Those are lucky people. TDL's bedtime was 10pm when he was tiny, and eventually he moved to a 7pm-7am sleep schedule.

So yeah. I lucked out this time. Am fully prepared for the next child to have me desperately scrambling for solutions.

And I don't think you would ever do this because you are right thinking, but it kills me to see the kinds of weird cockamamie things some people do with their kids' sleep--waking them up from naps because they're "sleeping too long," keeping them up way too late because they don't want them getting up early, etc. It's resulting in less total sleep each day than their babies/toddlers need. RESPECT THE SLEEP, people. Your kids are trying to grow BRAINS here.

Amy said...

At his age, do everything you're doing except don't rock him to sleep (you have my permission to rock him occasionally if you feel like it). Lay him down while he's sleepy but awake and he'll learn.

I liked Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Babies, too. I went into mothering thinking that kids never slept, but fortunately Jaren chlorinated my gene pool, but I had to learn how to let my babies sleep.

MBC said...

Thanks for all the advice! I have The No-Cry Sleep Solution at home right now, but I'll have to get my hands on Healthy Sleep Habits.

And Nemesis, my main rule for The Bairn's entire short life is Never Wake a Sleeping Baby.

Anonymous said...

Never Wake a Sleeping Baby is the best advice my mother ever gave me. My son is 10 and it works to this day. Their bodies know when they want to sleep, and you'll have fewer issues if you respect that.
When my son was around 7 months old I noticed his bedtime cry changed a little, it now sounded somehow less urgent, more whiny. That was the moment for the new method. I would do the bath, the books and the snuggling/rocking, then I would lay him in his crib and leave the room as usual. If he cried ('if' haha!)I would return and lay him down again and leave the room. I would not; pick him up, talk to him, turn on a light, kiss his forehead, etc. The time for those things was done, it was now bedtime. When he cried again, I would let him cry for 3 minutes, then go in and do the automaton mom routine again. Then let him cry 5 minutes, then 7, then 10, and so on. We only had to play this game for 2 nights and he decided that it wasn't worth the effort to get no reward.
I choose this method because my son was and is, big, tall and physically capable, and could climb out his bed very early. We took the front off his crib wen we was only 8 months old to make it less of a fall.
Whatever you decide to do is the best thing for your baby - trust that!

Lady Susan said...

Just wanted to chime in here. You just have to trust your instincts about your child. I read all the books and was determined that my child would sleep. But, Finn has never been a good sleeper despite all of my efforts. He has a hard time shutting off his brain and letting sleep come. This has become more apparent as he is older. CIO was also never an option. He is super sensitive. To the point where if you leave the room, he literally thinks he is being abandoned and will NOT calm down on his own. So we have had to use more gentler approaches. I really like the NCSS book that you have. A lot of it is trial and error to see what works best for your family. Also, realize that some babies need a lot of parenting at night.

Another book that I love is Sleepless in America. It doesn't just talk about infant sleep but sleep for the whole family regardless of age.

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