Sleepy Time: Getting Your Baby to Go to Sleep
By andbabymakes4 on April 09, 2013
BlogHer Original Post
What were you doing at 12 pm and 3 am last night? If you have an infant at home, chances are you weren’t sleeping. It’s more likely you were doing the zombie walk to your baby’s room, fantasizing about your warm bed, and planning your morning pot of coffee. If you’re me, you were frantically Googling “sleep training” at 3 am.
We were ninjas of sleep training with our twins. Those kiddies were sleeping through the night at six months old. We are a little more relaxed with our newest baby, but now that she’s 11 months old and still waking up once a night most nights, we have to wonder: What did we do right the first time, and where did we go astray this time? Kim West's Crib Sheet offers some great tips to help your baby develop healthy sleep habits.
Baby Sleep 101
West tells us that a brand-new baby, fresh from the uterus, needs a lot of sleep. Chances are your babe will be on a cycle of sleep-eat-sleep-eat (with a little spit-up thrown in there for good measure). The glorious thing about a new baby is how they can sleep through anything. I remember a stranger commenting on how well-behaved our twins were when they slept through an entire meeting. If only he could see those hellions at age three!
As they age, babies are able to stay awake longer during the day, allowing them to sleep longer at night. To help Baby Bridget know this isn’t just another nap, we try to provide her with some cues to let her know it’s time for the long sleep as West suggests.
On Waking in the Night
If you’re like me, you wake up a few times during the night naturally. Maybe it’s because your husband stole the blankets, but waking up is pretty normal. I wake up, steal the blankets back, establish all is well, and go back to snoozing.
The bad news? You better stock up on coffee, because your baby won’t be capable of sleeping through the night until she’s about six months old. Bridget’s night waking diminished over those first six months to twice a night without us trying. It’s those remaining two times that have been killing us! West's Crib Sheet lists out how many night wakes you can expect at various ages -- super helpful.
On Night vs. Day
After we first brought our babies home from the hospital, they were keeping the sleep schedule of a clubber from Studio 54. Making small changes helped us teach our babies that daytime is fun time and nighttime is sleep time.
We kept daytime active and nighttime boring. Sometimes it was hard to do the parent gig without falling prey to our cutie’s playful charms. Seriously, people, it takes willpower to ignore an adorable baby wanting to play! If our babies were having a marathon nap and missing a meal, we’d wake them up so their schedule didn’t get even wackier!
As West points out, there’s a lot of evidence that exposure to natural light is important to setting those natural sleep-wake rhythms. We keep the nursery dark and only light it with a dim nightlight. During the day we try to get the baby some outside time with fresh air.
On Babies Crying
There are few things as stressful as a crying baby. When my babies cry, you could probably harness the power of my blood pressure to power a small village. (You didn’t know this blog post would hold the solution to our energy crisis, did you?)
I know it’s normal for a baby to cry, but it sends me into a tailspin! Crying can become a family affair and turns into a vicious cycle. Baby cries. You cry. Baby cries. You freak out.
I know energy is contagious. Just like Bridget’s stress affecting me, my stress makes her upset. When my son was colicky and cried