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Sleep, Baby, Sleep

by Michele | March 25th, 2011 | Infants/Toddlers

It’s been a while since I’ve needed to rock a little one to sleep. While it’s been more than a decade, the occasions of crying babies who couldn’t be consoled remain a vivid memory. When you know that your baby isn’t hungry, doesn’t have a fever, and has a dry diaper, you wonder how you can encourage sleep.

To help others solve this common problem I spoke with, Erin Taback, who is a Board Certified Pediatrician practicing at Oak Park Pediatrics in Oak Park, Illinois. Dr. Taback noted that if your child is less than 4 months old, expecting him or her to sleep through the night is not a realistic goal. When your infant is over 4 months old, he or she will need up to 12 hours of sleep overnight. However, at that age, sleeping for 8-10 hours should be considered “sleeping through the night”.

So, what can you do to help your baby sleep well at night? Dr. Taback offers the following recommendations:

1 – When putting your baby to sleep, you should establish a consistent relaxing nighttime routine, such as bathing, soothing play, reading books, quiet music, etc. Then, when the baby is drowsy, you should put them to sleep while he/she is still awake. The goal is to help your baby learn to put him/herself to sleep as opposed to relying on you to put them to sleep.

2 – Do not rock them, cuddle with them or nurse them until they fall asleep. These tendencies are teaching them to rely on you to fall asleep.

3 – I recommend putting babies to sleep in their own rooms when they are 4 months old. That is consistent with when it is reasonable to expect them to sleep through the night and around the time when they begin to establish routines and schedules.

4 – Moving your baby to his/her own room at around 4 months will help you to not respond to every noise they make, allowing them to learn how to soothe themselves back to sleep.

5 – While difficult, avoid tending to your baby when he/she cries unless you have reason to believe there is something wrong. If you get into a routine of tending to your baby every time they cry you will extend the period of time it will take for your baby to sleep through the night.

6 – It is okay for children to use pacifiers and/or suck their thumbs. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children use pacifiers for the first year. That said, not all babies like pacifiers or sucking their thumbs and that’s fine too. It’s a matter of preference. Thus, there is no reason for concern to the extent that you use pacifiers to help sooth your baby to sleep.

7 – Always remember to put your baby to sleep on his/her back.


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