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Posts Tagged ‘drowsy to sleep’

I just became the parent of two beautiful twin girls. They were born on April 9th and they are 2.5 weeks old. I also have a 19 month old son. I am a firm believer in teaching a baby how to fall asleep without having to have them fall asleep in your arms. When Cooper was an infant, I would rock him until he was drowsy, that would take sometimes up to 15 minutes of rocking to get him to the drowsy stage. If I did not rock him and just lay him in his crib, he would never go to sleep on his own. He needed my help. In hindsight, I wish I would never have rocked him before he went to sleep. I should have just held him until he started to calm down. Eventually, I could just lay my son down without any rocking, but that did not come until he was a much older baby, probably over 9 months old.

With the twins, I only have one pair of arms to rock a baby. I am also limited on the amount of time I can spend helping the twins go to sleep because I have to worry about my 19 month old. What I have been doing is swaddling the twins real good, putting them in their bouncers and swings, and waiting for their sleepy cues that it is time to go to sleep. Their sleepy cues is less activity and their eyes start to get heavy and dart back and forth under their eye lids. At that point, I pick them up, carry them to their cribs, and lay them down. I sometimes give them a pacifier if are having trouble. Since I started doing this, they go to sleep well on their own.

On occasion, one of the twins just has trouble going to sleep. When that happens, I do the following things:
1. Put a pacifier in their mouths.
if that does not work…
2. Rub their heads or tummies to calm them
if that does not work…
3. Just let them fuss
if that does not work…
Pick them back up and return them to bouncer/ swing until drowsy and then lay them down again

Just let them fuss: I have actually perfered to do this method. As long as the girls are not truly crying, then I will let them fuss and get themselves to calm down. This is teaching them to self-sooth so they will not need much assistance to drift off to sleep. If their fussing turns into true crying, then I usually pick them up and try the bouncer or swing until drowsy.

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FACT #1: Establish a good schedule (eat, wake, sleep)

If this is the only thing you take from baby wise, then great! Babies thrive from consistence. If you are constantly changing up the schedule and routine daily, your child will have a more difficult time achieving good nighttime sleep. Every day should have consistency with a wake up time that is the same every day (our’s is 7am) and a bedtime that is the same every day (our’s is 7pm now). In between the start and close of each day, your child will cycle through several eat, wake, sleep cycles. This trains you child to not become dependent on nursing or bottle feeding to fall asleep. And beleive it or not, this helps with nighttime sleep too. If you babies wakes in the middle of the night, she may be able to put herself back to sleep if she is not dependent on nursing or bottle feeding to fall asleep. For more on eat, wake, sleep cycles see my post entitled “Infant & Baby Schedules”  https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/

FACT #2: Keep Sleep Props to a minimum

Baby Wise urges parents to stay away from sleep props such as nursing or rocking baby to sleep or sleeping with your baby in a shared bed. There is nothing wrong with any of these sleep props. There are many parents who do this with their children and it works for their family. But if you are attempting to use parent-directed feeding and Baby Wise, these sleep props will hinder your progress. The goal of Baby Wise is to help teach children how to fall asleep on their own without someone’s help. Having said that, I will say that I believe it is okay to rock your baby to the point of drowsiness before laying her in her crib. Just don’t allow them to fall sleep in your arms.  For more on putting your baby to bed drowsy but awake see my post “Put Your Baby To Bed Drowsy But Awake” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/put-baby-to-bed-drowsy-but-awake/

FACT #3: Some crying will happen (Cry-It-Out)

If you are using Baby Wise, then they recommend putting your baby in his own crib awake. Some babies will fuss or cry in their crib before falling asleep. Baby Wise suggests allowing your baby to cry for up to 15 minutes. If your child is still crying after 15 minutes, go in a check on him. You might want to pat him on the back or hold him in your arms for a little.  Then leave the room and try again. Every baby is different, if I showed my face even after 15 minutes my son would cry longer and harder.  I had to learn that when we where in the heat of sleep training (Cry-It-Out), I had to just leave him be. We had a video monitor so we could make sure he was okay. Thankfully, the hard nights really only lasted for 3-5 days, maybe 7 days at the most.  We started putting my son to bed awake by drowsy when he was 4/5 weeks old at night. At first he would cried for 20 minutes before falling asleep, but it did not take long (maybe 4-5 days) and his crying diminished. I believe by the time he was  3 months old, he rarely cried going to sleep at night. If he did cry, it was because he was overstimulated and needs to blow off steam.

FACT #4: Some babies make noise, fuss, or cry during sleep transitions (so don’t rush in)

Babies sleep cycle are about every 45-50 minutes. During this transition from one sleep sleep cycle to the next, your baby may partially arouse and make noise, fuss, move around, or even cry. As hard as it is, don’t rush into their room to check on them. Give them a few minutes to settle. “Sometimes you may think your baby is waking up when she’s actually going though a phase of light slumber. She could be squirming, startling, fussing, or even crying- and still be asleep. Or she may be awake by on the verge of drifting off again if left alone. Don’t make the mistake of trying to comfort her during these moments; you’ll only awaken her further and delay her going back to sleep. Instead, if you let her fuss and even cry for a few minutes, she’ll learn to get herself to sleep without relying on you (BW p. 146)” My son use to wake from his naps in between sleep cycles (45 minute intruder) and would cry for 5-15 minutes when he was 2-4 months old. I learned to leave him alone or he would never complete a full nap and be cranky. For more on baby’s sleep cycle read my post entitled “Infant Sleep Cycles” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Important Reminders

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In the book, Good Night, Sleep Tight, the author discusses the idea that it is best to put your baby to bed drowsy but awake. This is important if you want your child to learn how to fall asleep on his own with out your help. If you child awakes in the middle of the night, he will not be depend on you to help him fall back to sleep. A very young baby (under the age of 4 months) will usually need assistance to help calm and sooth before bedtime. It is okay to rock, swing, and walk with your baby to help calm them down, but only do it to the point when your baby is drowsy.

The author also discusses the most common mistake a parents makes is to nurse their child to sleep. The key is to nurse your child only enough to the point where they are drowsy and not totally asleep. She writes:“When he stops sucking energetically and swallowing, and instead is sucking gently, a sort of fluttering motion on your breast (or bottle), he is past the ‘drowsy’ target. In fact, if you look, you’ll see his eyes are probably closed…If he wakes up as you are unlatching him and still seems hungry…give him one more chance. If he starts eating fine let him finish. But if he just goes back to that flutter sucking, you’ve been duped! He isn’t hungry, he just wants to suckle himself to sleep. (p.20)”

Your child may cry a little before falling asleep. It is okay. That is their way of blowing off steam. Some babies need to cry to help themselves fall asleep. My son will cry now, at 6 months, for about 5 minutes before falling asleep. When we first started putting my son to sleep drowsy there would be nights when he would fall asleep with no tears and other nights he would cry for up to 20 minutes. Eventually, the amount of time he would cry decreased and he became more efficient at falling asleep on his own. This was a huge help for when he would awake in the middle of the night on his own. He would fuss and cry for a few minutes, but eventually fall back to sleep on his own without our assistance.

Please feel free to share your stories and success with putting your babies to sleep drowsy!

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