Dr. William Sears suggests allowing babies to sleep in their parents bed until they ask to sleep on their own. Dr. Richard Ferber suggests letting the infant “cry-it-out” for ever-lengthening periods. Every book also has its own “secrets” of how to accomplish this task. If you are a parent of an infant, let’s face it…you just want more sleep for everyone!
Before my first pregnancy I read many “recommended” books on all sorts of newborn/infant topics. Throughout all my reading I found myself coming back to The Secrets of The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg. I am excited to share with you the helpful tips she offers; they have been very successful for our family in creating good sleep patterns for both of our boys. I am so grateful for her advice and hope it is as beneficial to your family!
(summarized and quoted from The Secrets of The Baby Whisperer)
Hogg’s Sensible sleep is described as an anti-extremist approach that combines several approaches through a whole-family approach that respect’s everyone’s needs. She keeps in mind that parents need to have adequate rest, moments for themselves and each other, in order to best care for their baby.
Sensible Sleep Tips:
1. Start as you mean to go on. If you are initially attracted to the notion of shared sleeping, think it through. Is this how you want it to be in three months from now? Six months? Remember that everything you do teaches your baby. Therefore, when you put him to bed by cuddling him on your chest or rocking him, in effect you are instructing him to require this. You’re saying, “This is how you get to sleep.” Once you go down that road, then you better be prepared to cuddle and rock him for a long, long time.
2. Independence is not neglect. When I say to the mother or father of a day-old infant, “We want to help her become independent,” they sometimes look at me. “Independent? She’s only a few hours old, Tracy.” So I ask, “Well when would you start?” That’s a question no one can answer, not even scientists, because we don’t know the precise moment when an infant begins to truly comprehend the world of skills she needs to cope with her environment. Therefore, I say, start now. Fostering independence, however, doesn’t mean letting her cry it out. It means meeting her needs, including picking her up when she cries, because, after all she is trying to tell you something. But it also means putting her down as soon as the need is met.
3. Observe without intervention. Babies go through a predictable cycle each time they fall asleep (as recommended by Hogg’s E.A.S.Y routine for babies). Parents need to understand that they do not need to rush in. Rather than interrupting a baby’s natural flow, we need to step back and let the baby fall asleep on his own.
4. Don’t make your baby dependent on props. A prop is any device or intervention that when withdrawn will cause an infant distress. We can’t expect babies to learn how to fall asleep on their own if we train them to believe that Dad’s chest, a thirty-minute carry, or a breast in the mouth will always be there to soothe them. I’m all for pacifiers, but not when they are used to silence a child. By the way, a prop is different from a transitional object, like a stuffed animal or a blanket that your baby adopts and becomes attached to. Do not give your child anything to quiet her down, but let her discover her own means of calming herself (usually doesn’t happen until around 8 months, before that most “attachments” are parent-driven).
5. Develop bedtime and nap time rituals. Bedtimes and nap times should be done the same way each time. As I’ve stressed throughout, babies are creatures of habit. They like to know what is coming next, and research has proven that even very young infants who have been conditioned to expect a particular stimulus are able to predict when it’s coming.
6. Know how your particular baby goes to sleep. There is no “recipe” for putting a child to sleep that works for everyone. You pave the way for sleep by creating a ritual or routine of certain sleep time phrases, and room preparation (closing the blinds, turning on music, etc.) You learn their sleepy time signals (rubbing their eyes, pulling their ears, turning away from objects, etc.). Most importantly to create an independent sleeper, you place them in their crib BEFORE they are asleep.
To read more, watch for more infant tips blogs on Cheerios and Lattes and pick up a copy or download a copy to your Kindle of The Secrets of The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg.