If you’re a parent with a young child, here’s a question that might make you yawn: what were you doing this morning at 1am, 3am, or 5am? Were you sleeping like a baby or were you actually hugging and rocking your little cherub in an attempt to get him back to sleep? After all, that’s what being a parent is all about, isn’t it?

A lucky few will have been sleeping in bed through the night, but a large percentage of the parenting population will have been feeding or pacing the floor with the little bundles of joy.

Just as your newborn weaves magic through your heart, the effects of lack of sleep can cast a spell on your body and mind. One in three children have real sleep problems before they reach school age, but these can be overcome in many cases, and it doesn’t have to mean leaving your baby crying for hours on end.

So why don’t little kids sleep?

We all sleep in cycles consisting of blocks of light and deep sleep. If you rock your baby to sleep or let him fall asleep on the chest before you put him to bed, you will have problems. Your baby goes into a light sleep phase and she is more likely to wake up when she realizes that she is alone. They’ll cry, you’ll go back to them, and since you don’t know any other way, you’ll pick them up, rock them to sleep, and put them back in her crib. And the cycle continues!

common sense way

Controlled comfort was devised by Australian nurse mother Rhonda Abrahams. It’s kinder than controlled crying. “You should never let a baby under 6 months cry,” says Ronda. “Older babies should not be left to cry for more than 10 minutes.”

Rhonda based her technique on common sense. “Babies need to learn to go to sleep on their own so that if they wake up at night, they can go back to sleep,” she explains. To work, the techniques must be used for all types of sleep, or your baby will receive mixed messages. And the little ones learn by repetition. Therefore, she must adopt this routine for both day and night.

Ready or Not?

Before starting the program…

Make sure your baby is okay. If they get sick just as the new routine begins, stop and start again when they’re better.

Make sure you’re okay; it won’t do either of you any good to start a new routine while your body is under stress.

Try to keep a week fairly free to put in as much time and effort as possible to make the routine work. A busy schedule will make it harder and take longer to work.

If someone else cares about your baby, make sure they know what’s involved – nothing sabotages a new routine as quickly as confusing messages.

Get a dim night light so your baby can see his surroundings when he wakes up.

it’s just routine

A regular routine is the surest way to get a baby or toddler to sleep independently. Little ones respond to a familiar pattern of events, and sleeping in the same environment each night gives them a sense of security and comfort. Establishing a bedtime routine will benefit not only your child, but also “you and your partner, as you can have a little bit of grown-up quiet time.”

Encourage patterns in your newborn’s life, as these will become routines, and babies learn from repetition. Keep in mind that a habit can be formed in just three days!

The best way to establish a routine is to use the feed/play/sleep method. During the day, when your baby wakes up, feed him and then let him play for a while. He watch for signs of tiredness (yawning, eye rubbing, graying, hiding face). When he notices them, he should start to settle them. Having a hug before a nap during the day; at night, give them a relaxing bath. Baby massage can also soothe your baby. Never overstimulate your child before bed and think that the longer you keep her awake, the more tired she will get and the easier it will be to get her to sleep. An overly tired baby is harder to calm down, and if she waits until he is tired to start her last feeding, she will fall asleep while she feeds him. The main challenge with this is that your baby will freak out when she wakes up alone in the crib and wonder where you are; After all, when they fell asleep, they were in your arms!

Settlement – Newborn – 6 Months

Unless your baby is unusually cooperative, prepare for some crying; it helps to have someone else there to support you.

1. Wrap your baby tightly, but not tightly, in a small blanket or stroller sheet, covering his hands to help him feel more secure and prevent him from hitting his face if he gets agitated.

2. Place him in his crib on his side so he’s not facing you (avoid eye contact) and with his feet near the end of the crib. Remember that this is not the position they will sleep in – you will turn them on their back once they are asleep. They won’t take any damage in the meantime, since you’ll be in the room with them at all times. Look at the clock and note the time. You’re going to give them 15 minutes to settle.

3. They will probably have started crying by now. Place one hand on her shoulder and gently stroke her back or gently pat her bottom with the other hand. They will probably continue to cry.

4. If, after 15 minutes, he is still crying and shows no signs of calming down, pick him up and cuddle him (do not rock him to sleep, remember this is what you are trying to avoid).

5. Once he has calmed down, place him back in his crib, facing away this time, and try another 15-minute period to calm down. Put a hand on his shoulder and pat or stroke him, as before. If they start to calm down, remove your hand, the idea is that your baby calms down.

6. Once your baby is fast asleep, gently roll him onto his back, loosen the swaddle and set him down.

7. If your baby continues to cry, pick him up, hug him, and start over.

The most important thing is perseverance. New routines take time, but think about how much more enjoyable parenthood will be when you get a good night’s sleep.

Settlement 6 – 12 months

Again, it will really help if you have support. With this technique, your baby will never be alone crying for more than ten minutes at a time. Are you ready? Well here it goes!

1. Lay your baby on his back in the crib. Make sure her feet are at the end of the bed and tell them “It’s time for bed.” Leave the room and wait two minutes. You want to give your baby a chance to fall asleep on his own. As soon as they realize they are alone, they are likely to start protesting. If they don’t settle within 2 minutes, go back inside.

2. Turn them on their side, facing away from you. Put one hand on his shoulder and follow up by gently patting his lower or upper thigh with the other hand. Do this for two minutes, repeating the words “It’s time to sleep” in a soft, soothing voice. If the baby is still complaining after two minutes, leave the room and wait outside, this time for four minutes.

3. If they haven’t settled yet, go back inside and try to settle them, this time for four minutes. Next time, it will be six minutes, then eight minutes, and finally ten minutes.

4. In the unlikely event that after the ten minute session he still hasn’t settled, take him out of the crib, hug him, calm him down (making sure not to rock him to sleep) and when he’s done repeat the process.

You will notice that your child’s crying will peak and then subside, often very quickly, until he finally falls asleep.

As stated throughout this article, the key to success is perseverance. If you follow this routine to the letter, within 3 to 10 days your baby should be sleeping through the night and able to go back to sleep on her own, should she wake up.

Good luck and happy dreaming!

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