I must say, as a mom, this has been the most googled topic I have found myself typing time after time. While I'm certainly no expert, I have found a way that worked for my children.
#2 The Routine
Ok, now that the rooms are ready to go- I'm going to talk about having a routine. I know what you're thinking- ok get to the part where we talk about sleep- but trust me this is all important! Starting a routine even when they are infants can make a difference. If they are older, it's never too late to start. Have certain "cues" for them that bed time is approaching. For instance, have bath time, reading time, cuddle time, bottle, sing a lullaby, etc. Any combination, whatever your little one likes, will be perfect. Just make sure to be consistent.
#3 The Method
This section may get a little controversial, and it won't work for everyone. If you follow a parenting style where you do not want your kids to cry - this will not be for you. And there's nothing wrong with that. This method is not for everyone, but I can tell you from my experience after trying countless things- this is what worked.
The method is sometimes referred to as "Cry it Out", and it is just that. You are letting your baby cry it out. Now this shouldn't be used with newborns or used when your baby is actually hungry. This is for when their pediatrician has said they weigh enough and are old enough to be sleeping through the night.
How we approached this was to place the baby down in the crib drowsy, but still awake. This way they learn to soothe themselves to sleep. I always put mine down with a small blanket, but I know some aren't comfortable with that. Then I left the room immediately. Inevitably, my baby would cry. I would let her cry for 5 minutes, then go in and soothe her by patting her back (never picked up or fed). Then I would leave and let her cry for 10 minutes this time before going in to soothe. That night 10 minutes would be the longest, but on night 2 I would do 5, then 10, then 15; each night lengthening by 5 minutes, but I never went longer than 20. Usually by the 3rd or 4th night you aren't having to even go in that many times because they have figured out how to soothe themselves to sleep. They've also realized that you won't be rushing in when they cry, so sometimes they give up after a minute or two. Some are stubborn though and don't give up this easily. Once you can master this skill it will make nights and naps SO much easier. No more going in 5 times a night to nurse/rock them back to sleep. They are happier because they are sleeping better, and so are you! Sometimes it may take longer, or possibly shorter, but with both of mine by 1 week they were sleeping through the night!
It is such a hard thing to do to listen to them crying, but I had to tell myself I was doing this for their own good. Sleep is so important for children and it's so important to set up healthy sleep habits early on. They will carry these habits with them as they get older. A baby who never learns to self soothe will not know how to do so as a toddler.
Basically, whether you choose this method or another that you may stumble upon while searching this subject in the middle of the night, the important thing is to pick SOMETHING and stick to it! Consistency is so important for babies and children and trust me they will pick up on it quickly when you are not consistent.
To my sleep deprived parent readers- good luck!! I hope this works for you. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any other suggestions or tips you have found to work. It takes a village to raise a child - this I have found to be true - and I hope this post can help someone out there struggling for sleep as I definitely did!
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