What is the best way to get my baby to sleep?
I hear this all the time from my friends who are new parents. What I failed to realize as a new mom, and I’m sure many others overlook this as well, is that newborn babies don’t know the difference between day and night.
You’re probably thinking, then how do they learn? The best advice I can offer is to develop a sleep schedule that works for you and your baby. Of course that advice comes from me now, 12 years later, but it's not what I did with my first.
What I shouldn't have done
I don't wish what I did on anyone else. You know the scenario: there is your baby, your first baby, your only baby, and they don't want you to leave their sight, let alone go to sleep in a crib in a room with out you. So there they lay, screaming. I mean seriously? What are we supposed to do? I figured, I'll just sit next to her crib here for a bit and hold her hand until she doses off. It worked! It only took about five minutes. I figured I was some kind of baby whisperer, and what are other parents' problems with getting their babies to bed, right? Here comes the downward spiral. Oh yes, there was a downward spiral.
The way I remember it is like one of those whirlpools in the midst of the ocean - it was sucking me in and I could not find my way out. I can't remember how long I was into the nightly hand holding routine - it wasn't long, but I was up to a whopping two hours, and she still wasn't even asleep. I remember crying on the floor with my hand in the crib, it was probably mostly of boredom, but also from realizing I had created a monster and I had to deal with it.
The next day I conference-called with my mom and her friend. I remember them pumping me up like I was the freshman player on the basketball team needing to make a game winning clutch shot, convincing me that I could do something I wasn't so sure I could do. That very evening, I was firm and let her cry. It was awful. There is nothing worse that having to stand right outside the door and hear your baby cry, and cry, and cry...but after three magical nights (just like my mom said it would take), she realized I wasn't coming in and decided to go to sleep on her own. Now that, my friends, was a new lease on life.
When my second baby, Ellie, was born, I had heard of schedules like babywise (although I struggle to stick to any kind of schedule whatsoever). The poor baby girl never even had a chance to get special nighttime treatment from me. I laid her down to sleep on her own with no special treatment every night from the beginning. Nine years later she is still the easiest one to get to bed.
Is there one right way?
Unfortunately, there’s no right answer when it comes to what a sleep schedule should look like, sorry! But, whether you follow a bedtime routine of warm baths and sweet lullabies or bedtime reading or simply put them down at the same time each night, consistency is key in your routine to help your baby become adept to sleeping and waking at “normal” hours. Careful not to make the mistake of waiting until they are falling asleep or keeping them up in hopes that they will sleep longer – studies have shown that tired infants often have more trouble sleeping. If you’re still having trouble getting your baby to dose off, try comforting sleep aids like these trendy pacifiers from zazzle.com. They don't promise your baby will sleep better, but they will look adorable trying.
Check out these little hacks that can make parenting so much easier! I seriously wish I would have thought of #32 when I was putting Esther to bed!