Lots of mothers are unsuccessfully trying to teach their babies to sleep alone in their own room. The beginning can be very difficult, especially if the little one is used to sleep in your room or even in the same bed with you. The good news is that there`re methods through which you can wean him of this habit. The bad news, however, is that this takes patience, time and nerves of steel, but the result is worth it. You`ll not only improve the quality of your baby`s sleep, but also that of your own.
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How to Teach your Baby to Sleep without You?
You have your own reasons for not being able to sleep with your baby in the same bed. Maybe you and your life partner need this or maybe the little one has already grown enough to take this decision. The bigger he is, the harder it`s to make him used to sleep alone. Sleepless nights, full reserves of patience, the second day you need to get up early in the morning for work, the baby`s insistence, you get nervous – there are few parents who escape easily from this. And teaching your little one not to sleep with you represents a real challenge.
Start with His Afternoon Sleep
If you are between the lucky ones that have troubles only with your baby`s night sleeping, you can go over this advice. However, if the little one needs to stay next to you to sleep during the day as well, then this is a very good starting point to establish a sleeping routine. In the evening, when you are both tired, you tend to give up faster in making him sleep alone anyway, going over some of the basic rules.
During the day, you`ll have a lot more patience with your baby and his crying won`t deprive you of the so necessary rest at night. When your baby will manage to sleep alone during the day, you`ll be able to start preparing him sleep along at night as well.
Difference between the Day and the Night Program
The baby needs to be taught to perceive the real difference between a day program and a night one. You can start to teach him even from when he`s so small that he still sleeps with you in your bed. Adapt your behavior to your purpose. During the day you talk to him, but at night you talk to him much less, even if it becomes hard for you. Be more silent and create a suitable environment, which means discreet light and less noise.
Then, teach your little one that the crib is a place for sleeping, not for playing or eating. You shouldn`t do this by talking, but rather by behavior. You need to also avoid diversifying the variety of activities he performs, as he sleeps.
Establish a Sleep Routine!
You`ll need to establish a sleeping program that first of all, you have to be the one to respect it. The little one needs to sleep more during the night than day. If during the day tends to sleep more than 3 or 4 hours in a row, you have to keep him awake. This way, you`ll get him more tired when the night falls. At night, you have to reduce the stimuli associated with breastfeeding as much as possible. After he had enough, you can touch him gently a bit and then put him to sleep without playing or talking too much.
The sleeping routine that you establish with your baby is essential. The little one will know that is time to sleep when:
- You sing to him a cradle song.
- You cradle him in the evening.
- You make him a bath in the evening.
- You read him a bedtime story.
It`s very important to offer him the same elements. And it`s not only about the activities, but things as well. For instance, his favorite toy or blanket! A daily routine will secure and strengthen habit. Slowly, the little one will stop associating your presence with the idea of sleeping. It will associate it with the rest of the elements, which are the ones that you organize them for him. All these elements will represent the process of teaching him to sleep without you.
Is It Okay to Let a Newborn Cry It Out?
Perhaps the most traumatic part for parents starts when the baby begins to scream. First of all, you`ll feel your heart break, and eventually he`ll probably make you despair. A baby who is used to sleep with you can be really persistent. If he`s still very small, he`ll probably cry uninterrupted until getting him in your arms. So, perhaps this isn`t the best way to go! You take him in your arms once or twice, and you check if there are other reasons for him crying. Then you come back to his crib from time to time and talk to him gently. If he hears your voice, he`ll know he`s not alone, even if you don`t take him in your arms. The next logical step is to make the interval between these verbal insurances longer. And then, talk to him from outside his room, without you coming to his crib. He`ll slowly start to calm down on his own.
Find Things to Do
While you let your little one to calm down on his own, it will be a hundred times harder if you stay in front of his room crying or feeling upset as well. The best thing you can do is to let the door a bit open and go in the other room. Find something to do, read a magazine, watch the television or listen to some relaxing music. You may not feel like it, but you can even go outside to take some fresh year for a couple of minutes. Just be careful not to distract yourself so much that you`ll forget about the little one and check him after a while.
Offer Him Rewards!
You can introduce a reward, to show your little one that you appreciate his effort. However, avoid using material or inefficient rewards related to his education. Be smart and choose various games through which to determine him to sleep alone several days in a row, at the end of which he`ll win something that he really wants. For instance, you can create several cards, which you can color them in red. Draw a beautiful frame upon which to stick the cards and under them a picture with the object that you know he wants (toy, book, etc).
Don`t Fall into Traps!
There`s the possibility for the little one to stretch all kinds of traps. If until the moment you`ve decided to wean him of this habit you`ve letting him sleep with you some more when he felt sick or was upset, he may take advantage of this in time. You might have the surprise of seeing him crying because his belly, leg or anything else is hurting and so, he may want to stay overnight with you in the same room, taking advantage of your naivety. You can console him without taking him in the same bed with you by taking him in his room, touching him gently where it huts and staying with him until he falls asleep.
Read more on How Can A Pregnant Woman Have A Comfortable Sleep?
You can be sure that this process takes a while. Some parents don`t have enough patience. They may have to go to work early in the morning the next day, or they simply don`t have the nerves to accomplish this. However, it`s necessary to insist. If the baby is bigger, you may find it even harder. It very much depends on the level of stubbornness as well.
When Do Babies Learn to Self-Soothe?
Although it may sound rather basic, it`s not! Newborn are not born being aware of how to self-soothe; it`s something that they need to be taught. When the little one is born, he isn`t yet able of controlling his emotions, and he often needs his parents to comfort him when he feels upset, by singing, holding or feeding him. – Click this!
However, as the little one grows and his little brain matures, he becomes able of controlling his own emotions and, therefore, soothing on his own. Specialists don`t really agree as to exactly when an infant becomes able of doing this by himself, but usually it is in general accepted that while they should not be expected to be able to self-soothe before reaching 3 months, they`re certainly able of this by the time they reach 6 months.
In our experience, we learned that the 4-to-7 month window represents a great time to work on aiding the little one learn how to self-soothe. By that point, the little one`s sleep patterns have most likely matured, but he may still be too young to have developed strong sleep associations which may be hard to correct. Will he always be perfect at it? Probably not! They`ll still need their parents from time to time after all!