7 Dec 2011

Self Sleeping ... Finally

A month and a half later our four and a half month old baby has learnt (or gave in) to self sleep. What is 'self sleeping' you ask? Its the term I've given for when a baby is put into their cot or crib (place of sleep) still awake and the child falls asleep without crying. I can now put my baby in his cot / crib wide awake and when he's ready he will go to sleep. Yes it has taken awhile for us to get there but we're here.

I have never been a fan of the 'self soothing' technique. Don't get me wrong I gave it a go a few times but I always gave in cause I just didn't like the sound or the look of my baby crying. I actually don't mind holding my baby to sleep, I don't mind holding my baby at all. He's only going to be this small for a short period of time so while I can hold and be close to him I'm not complaining.  But I know I need to start allowing him teach himself how to fall asleep on his own. Especially since I'll be back to work in less than 2 months. This technique in my opinion is kinda the opposite, a dragged out, less intrusive form of the 'self soothing' method.

Here are my tricks and tips to help your baby learn how to self sleep:
  • Get them familiar with the place of sleep you want your baby to learn to self sleep in, this will take time. We co-slept with our baby for the first 2-3 months and during the day I would also let him sleep on our bed. After 3 months I started putting him in his cot for his day naps and also started leaving him there for short periods of time while he was awake especially when I need the use of both my hands. I read that the sleep environment plays a factor on how they associate sleep  so getting them to be familiar with their sleep environment is key.
  • When they first cry comfort as soon as possible but avoid picking them up straight away. Attempt to calm them down while in their cot / crib. Provide comfort and assist in getting baby back to sleep if still sleepy.  Again this is to set them familiar with the environment. 
  • Put baby into cot / crib asleep at first then slowly over time put baby into crib a little more alert than the last time. You want to get into a state where you place baby into their cot after a feed knowing they're due for a nap. In time they will be familiar with their sleeping environment and just follow their body's desire to sleep - just like us adults. 
  • Go with your gut instincts. If you can only bare to let your baby sleep in their crib / cot during the day but not comfortable at night then that's ok, go with what works for both of you.
  • Be patient and persistent. There were nights he would still sleep in our bed for legitimate reasons (i.e sick) and it was so nice to have him close. You need to fight the temptation to revert back to old ways.      
There are exceptions to the rule of course and these are:
  • A baby wont fall asleep if they are not sleepy. Provide toys or distractions such as a moving mobile to assist them in 'playing out' that energy.
  • I suggested not to pick up baby when they cry from waking however assess whether baby needs more than gentle comfort. They may need a cuddle or are experiencing discomfort from something and need to be picked up straight away.
I think that's it. I'd like to get feedback from mom's who have read and tried this technique. I'd be interested to hear about their journey in trying out this method.
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