Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hints for putting your baby to sleep

So I've had some e-mails from people asking for some tips and how to do this successfully.  So I thought I would post what I do.  One thing about having 5 kids is I've learned what works and what doesn't.  I hope something I write will help.

I can still remember my first Derick (who by the way turned 11 yesterday!!)  I know he's getting so big. . . but anyways when he was around 8 months old we were clueless when it came to trying to get him to sleep and keep him asleep.  He would wake up around 1:00 a.m. and we'd feed him a bottle and he'd still be awake.  We'd then try rocking him, walking around with him, feeding him more, and finally just turning on the t.v. until he'd eventually get too exhausted and collapse.  We then would put him in his crib and hope and pray he wouldn't wake up.  I now realize that is why he was such a fat little baby,  we were over feeding him at night and during naps to try to get him asleep.   Here are some tips I've learned along the way!

1. Routine
Don't just kiss your baby, put them in the crib and say go to sleep.   Give them a bath, put their pajamas on, feed them, rock them,  read them a book, wrap them in their blankets,  I have a fisher price aquarium lights and sounds that I turn on as well.  A routine is crucial especially as they start getting older.  Toddlers can be hard to put to bed but if you have a set routine every night it will go much smoother.  Also try to lay them down around the same time for naps and bedtime.

2. Full tummy
You want to make sure that you feed your baby before laying them down.  However don't let them go to sleep.  This is harder especially if you are nursing because those babies eat and then use you as a pacifier.  Also after feeding them make sure they burp.
A big mistake alot of parents make (I did this with baby #1) is laying your baby down with a bottle or sippy.  This is a bad habit to get into and isn't good for the baby.

3. Sleepy
Make sure your baby is sleepy.  This is where your routine comes into play.  Rocking your little one and reading a book will relax them.  If you find that they are still not ready for bed try giving them a bath and then massaging them with baby lotion.  Baby #2 hated being rocked so to relax her I would bathe her, put a diaper on and rub her legs and arms with the lotion and sing to her.  Her little eyelids would slowly get heavier and heavier.  She would be asleep within minutes of laying her down.  Remember each baby is different so you need to find what works for them.

4. Stay Awake
This is crucial.  You don't want to put them asleep during the routine.  I know the thought of rocking your baby to sleep every night until they are 4  is what every mother loves and dreams of.  However it is going to be alot harder on you and them if you do.  You can still rock them just don't put them to sleep, use rocking for relaxing them.  I've found that when I lay them down awake and they go to sleep on their own they are more likely to stay asleep, and if they happen to wake up during the night they can fall back asleep without any assistance.  If they fall asleep to you feeding or rocking them that is what they last remember and so when they wake up they are looking to go back to sleep the same way.   For instance night #1 with Brett (baby #5) he fell asleep to me nursing him.  When he woke up in the middle of the night he cried for 2 hours!!!  On night #2 I made sure to go through the routine and put him to bed awake.  He only cried for 2 minutes and slept 11 hours straight!!!

5.  Be Strong
This is not going to be easy.  Just doing this with baby #5 was just as hard as #1, it never gets easier.  It is heart wrenching to hear your little one crying and in some instances for a couple of hours.  Some ideas to help is don't sit by the door listening to them scream.  Dull out the sound some way. Turn on your t.v., fan, AND turn down the monitor.  I have a monitor with lights and so I turn the sound off but I can look at the lights to see if he is crying.  Since his room is next to ours I also like to turn on our bathroom fan.  You are more tempted to go in and get them if you can hear them crying very loudly.  After I hear that they have gone to sleep I go back in and make sure the blankets are still on them so they don't get cold.  The hardest part is hearing them cry, but if you are strong and let them figure it out it is going to save you and your baby sleepless nights.
Some parents go in every 20 minutes or so and pat their back to reassure them that they are still there.  If this works for you then do it.  I tried this with 3 out of the 5 and I got the opposite reaction.  They would see me and get really upset and cry harder and longer.  So the last 2 I didn't even try it.  Again see what works for your little one.

What age do you  start?
I've read books and talked to others about this and my opinion is this:
It depends on your baby.
baby #2 was not a cuddly, rock me to sleep baby.  When she was tired she did so much better when I'd just lay her in her crib and let her go to sleep.  I did this process with her around 3 1/2 months.  Interesting enough she is also my most independent, strong headed kid!!!
My other babies (besides #1) was around 4 months.
I think this is a perfect age to do this because there is less movement from them.  If you wait until they are 8 months for instance they might be trying to pull themselves up and moving all around the crib which equals a much longer time of crying and getting themselves to sleep.  Not to mention they have been use to going to bed a totally different way for quite awhile longer.
The longest any of my babies cried was baby # 4.  She cried the first night for about 3 1/2 hours.  BUT the next night it was maybe 10 minutes.

If any of you try this I would love to hear how it's going with you.  Just e-mail me:

II thought I should add that I'm not a Dr. of sleep therapy or anything like that but I do have experience.  I was reading a parenting book from a lady Dr. who had ZERO children.  Now I'm sure she did research and all that jazz BUT I am more likely to listen to someone who has been through it personally.  This is what I've found out and I wanted to share it with you.


Jen said...

I love the advice ... Great tips Trisha and I agree with you. I'd much rather take advice from someone with experience rather then someone with research.

I'm anxious to know your thoughts on the allowance issue. You got some great feedback

Loveable Luceros said...

you left out step 6. Which is get on a plane...come to Colorado... and do it for me. I mean who would be better at it me or you??? YOU..... so get on it!!

Kristyn said...

Wow, you should write a book! Great advice. Sleep is one of the biggest factors on being able to function and enjoy the first few years.

Can you believe you are going to have a deacon in a year? You are getting old!?!?!