Thursday, February 25, 2010

How do I get my baby to sleep?

Here's a question about sleep training:

Once you do sleep training (such as Ferber's increased intervals method), should the child then be sleep trained, or is it meant to be an ongoing process? I feel like everyone else does it and then has kids who sleep well, whereas I have been doing it for months and still have one child who can't go to sleep well at all. It is a painful process, as I don't want to make my child cry, especially since he doesn't seem to be learning from it. I don't know what else to try anymore, and this is after reading a number of sleep books.

This is a follow-up to the sleep training question I sent last night: at what age is it safe for a child to have a toy or other object in his crib, and what would you recommend as the first object? We have had no blankets, no toys, absolutely nothing in the cribs. I am wondering if my son who goes to sleep poorly needs some kind of security object (maybe a teething toy?), but I'm afraid to let him have anything in the crib. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

It sounds to me like you could be right that he needs a comfort object. Once a baby is old enough to move around in the crib then the SIDS risk greatly decreases. There really is no reason why he can't have something in the crib with him.

I think that sleep training is an ongoing process. Is the problem that he isn't going to sleep or that he isn't staying asleep? I'm not sure what you've tried already but this is what I would suggest.

Start about an hour before bedtime. Dim the lights, give the baby a bath and maybe try a soothing massage (my kids really liked this). Dress the baby in his pajamas, maybe a bedtime bottle. Then read a story, sing a song, or spend some time rocking together. What you do exactly doesn't matter as much as the consistency. I would not worry about giving him a blanket (don't tuck it into the bottom of the mattress) or a stuffed animal, kiss him goodnight and then leave the room.

If you tried the sleep training methods that are described in books and they didn't work then it may be that just wasn't the right thing for your baby.

Good luck. Let me know how it goes.

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  1. Hi, it's me again... the bigger problem is that he won't go to sleep. He also sleeps for a shorter length of time than his twin, but that's less of a problem (unless it's 4:30am and I don't want to be up yet!). Our nighttime routine is similar to what you suggested, except that now we're transitioning away from the bottle as part of the routine since they're turning 1. (His sleep issues started long before we started this transition.) For naps, I can't possibly spend that long with a routine -- there's not enough time in a day, plus it's really hard when only one person is there with both babies, which is usually the case for naps. This is still a work in progress for us.


  2. Have you tried music? some babies like white noise, maybe a fan playing at night.