If you are pregnant, have a newborn, or even an older baby who is not sleeping through the night, READ THIS!! There’s one important skill that as parents we must teach our babies and in turn they will have the ability to fall asleep on their own (this means they sleep through the night – woohoo!).
Babies have sleep cycles that are 40-45 minutes long and increase to 50 – 55 minutes as they get older.
In between each sleep cycle a baby -and even toddlers – wake up briefly.
There’s one skill that will decide whether you will be waking up multiple times a night feeling tired and sleep deprived, or if your baby will sleep through the night without waking you up creating nighttime bliss.
That skill is called SELF-SOOTHING.
When babies know how to self-soothe, they know how to fall back asleep on their own in between sleep cycles. Babies that do not know this skill will require their “sleep crutch” every time they wake between sleep cycles in order to go back to sleep (this could be be held, rocking, and most commonly feeding).
Babies start to learn sleep habits at around 4 months old so right before this time is when you want to start teaching baby how to self-soothe.
When it’s time for baby to nap or go to sleep at night, make sure to put baby to bed while they are still awake – sleepy NOT sleeping.
If we rock or hold a baby until they fall asleep and then we place them down, when baby wakes up in between in each sleep cycle (every 40-45 minutes), they cry for that same sleep crutch of being held or rocked to sleep.
A sleep consultant explained it well – the baby feels as if we went to sleep all cozy in our bed and then woke up on the front lawn with our pillow.
Allowing baby to be sleepy and fall asleep on their own is crucial.
I am guilty of this as a mom. When my baby who slept in a bassinet next to my bed made the slightest cry, I would quickly pick up him, feed him, rock him for a minute, then put him back down to sleep. THIS WAS A HUGE MISTAKE. My son became dependent on me rocking him back to sleep so EVERY hour all night long baby would wake me up crying until I have him his sleep crutch.
I’ve learned now that let baby cry for a minute or two – some say even five minutes to see if they settle on their own. If it’s time for a feeding of course you feed baby, but if they already ate, then give it a minute before scooping your little one up. Unless it sounds like something is really wrong.
If baby does not settle, you can comfort baby without picking them up – give them a paci, rub their back, etc.
If your baby is 6 months old and is already dependent on a sleep crutch like being rocked back to sleep or being fed back to sleep, then check out this amazing method to get your baby sleeping in their crib all night long. Our baby was 9 months old when we did this method and we went from multiple night feedings to no night feedings in just one night.
The Woombie baby swaddle has a very unique “hands-over-heart” design where baby can use their hands to self-soothe. You never want to swaddle a baby with their arms pinned to the side.
Our Convertible Woombie allows arms to come out when baby begins to roll so baby can again use their hands to self-soothe.
Our Soothie Swaddle or Soothie Sack has a pacifier attached in the hand areas (or loops to attach your own paci) so this is another way to teach baby to self-soothe on their own.
A consistent schedule when it comes to sleeping and even eating is crucial for babies to understand when it’s time to settle and fall asleep.
Naps and bedtime should be at the same time every day. Even 15 minutes off can throw a wrench in baby’s sleep causing more wakings.
Establish a soothing routine before naps and before nighttime sleep – dimming the lights and sound 45 minutes before bath time, a quick bath – more than 5-10 minutes can actually stimulate baby, dark room with night light while you dry baby off, apply lotion, put on the swaddle, read a couple age appropriate books in a cuddle corner, place baby in the crib, sing a song or two, turn the sound machine on covering any lights that it omits, turn the night light off so it’s cave dark, and say your key phrase to indicate sleep – our is “Na-night. Love you.” Still at age 5 we say it!