Saturday, November 13, 2010

How to teach your baby to sleep - Part 2

A while back I posted about teaching my nearly 4 month old to go to sleep - in his crib, all by himself. That was step one on the baby sleep-training path and we've got it down. At this point he knows that his crib is for sleeping, so when I put him there he pretty much goes to sleep. That doesn't mean he never fusses. Quite the opposite. He often fusses for a bit when I put him to bed, but rarely longer than about 3 minutes.

Now for step two: sleeping through the night. My little guy is almost 5 months and showing signs that he's ready to stop getting up so much at night. I mentioned how to do this in my last post, but we having started in earnest I realized that some more tips might be in order. So here they are.

"Sleeping through the night" is a misnomer. Six hours at a stretch is pretty much considered 'through the night'. Once baby is a year or so he'll start sleeping solid 10-12 hour stretches, but his little belly isn't big enough to hold enough to get him through that long yet. Don't get frustrated if you're still getting up once.

Pay attention to how much sleep baby needs. I know I mentioned this in the last post, but it's important. The other day I put my baby down at 6:30 because he was tired. Surprise, surprise, we were up at 4:30 the next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Move that baby out of your room for crying out loud! Unless you want to feel like a horrible parent as you stare at the ceiling listening to your baby cry.

Oh, about the horrible parent bit. You are NOT a bad parent for teaching your baby to sleep through the night. Think about how tired you are after you've been up 2 or 3 times at night. Baby is tired, too. He wants to sleep. He just doesn't know how.

Anyway. Essentially I plan out an ideal schedule and try it out. I put baby down at nap time and feed him at feeding time. I've found it's easier to feed early to get on schedule than to make baby wait. One essential ingredient is keeping baby awake during the day. This mostly means holding, talking to and playing with him instead of sticking him in his swing quite so much. The schedule should be flexible enough to allow tweaking as you discover your baby's natural patterns and needs.

Finally, just stick with it! The more you stick to your schedule, your baby will begin to fall into the pattern. You will both appreciate it!

Just for giggles, here's my ideal schedule:

5am         eat, back to sleep
8am         wake up, eat
9:30am    nap
11am      wake up, eat
2pm        eat, go down for nap
4pm        wake up
5pm        eat
6:30pm   nap
8pm        wake up, eat
9:30-10  eat, go down for night

Let me know how it goes for you!

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