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Infant Care (up to 18 months old) Message Board

Infant Care (up to 18 months old) Board Index

You have to teach them how to fall asleep on their own. Before they start sleeping through the night, you do what you have to do to get them to sleep, but sometimes those methods don't fit into your life on a long-term basis (that's what happened with us and DD2). You can try putting him down when he's almost asleep and rubbing his tummy, side or back to soothe him until he falls asleep (if that works, you can gradually shorten the time you rub him until you can just put him down and give him a quick rub until he settles). You can also try to catch him before he's overtired and try putting him down and rubbing him until he's asleep. After DS yawns once, I bring him to his room and rock him for less than 5 minutes until he's really sleepy but still awake, put him in his crib and rub his back until he settles (30 seconds or less), all of which takes 5 minutes or less. With him, I forced the issue from the start and didn't let him get used to a long falling asleep process that involved me, DH, a swing, etc. because I learned the hard way with DD2 (my "non"-sleeper that I'll tell you about further down). Changing habits takes a little longer, but fortunately with a 3-month-old, it only takes a couple days to change a habit.

The book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer has some tips and tricks for getting them to fall asleep on their own and changing a habit. It's a little hokey in the beginning, but once you get past that, it really does offer some good advice on catching them before they're overtired and distinguishing between their cries. It also helps get them in a routine so they learn to anticipate when it's naptime or bedtime and automatically get tired around the same time every day, which makes life a lot more predictable.

Another good book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby. That has some good tips and tricks to try that you can start with a 3-month-old.

If all else fails and you have to let him cry it out, I'd highly recommend the book Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber as a last resort when he's another month or 2 older (the book says a minimum of 4 months; our pediatician says "solid foods" is the milestone when it's okay to start letting them cry it out, which happens to also be 4 months).

He will probably cry at first and be mad because you're changing the "rules," because that's the only way he knows how to fall asleep. But whatever method you try, if you're consistent with it, after a few days to a week, he'll get it and it will start to work (expect a relapse after a couple days but it will work after that). The key is consistency, so stick with whatever method you start for at least a week. If you're not consistent, it will take him a lot longer to catch on to what you're trying to teach him.

3 months is still a little too young to let them cry it out, but for the poster whose baby is 5 months, I highly recommend the book Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber if all else fails and you can't get them to fall alseep without crying or screaming bloody murder. It's a managed cry it out method where you go in at specific intervals to reassure them but don't pick them up. After 4 months, you can start this method. I preferred this method over our pediatrician's recommendation of "buy some ear plugs and let her cry" after ruling out any physical problem. I still had to listen to some crying (and screaming) but I felt better about going in after 5 or 10 minutes to make sure she's okay and calm her down (as soon as I'd turn around to leave she'd be screaming again, but at least I knew she wasn't hurt, she was just mad that I was changing the rules, so I could force myself to leave the room knowing that).

DD2 was terrible at falling asleep and is still not a great sleeper, although she's much better (she's 2 now). With her, at about 5 months (after she started on solid foods) we started forcing the issue of getting her to sleep in her crib for naps (she'd only catnap for 20 minutes in the swing after crying for a little while first), and fall asleep without being rocked (I'd rock her for 20 minutes only to go to put her down and she'd be awake and crying so I'd have to do it again and again; it took ALL DAY some days to rock her and get her to take a quick nap, which was hardly worth it; I had to do SOMETHING). I tried the No-Cry Sleep Solution book, but that didn't work with her because I'd go in to calm her down like you're supposed to, and as soon as I'd turn around to leave, she'd scream bloody murder. There was no "no-cry" in her sleep solution, she was too stubborn. ;) A friend recommended Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems and it took less than a week and she was falling asleep on her own in her crib for naps and bedtime. She was sleeping longer and deeper and was a different baby. I got my life back too. I didn't think anything would work with her, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had to listen to some screaming for a couple days, which I admit was grueling, but she caught on after only about 2-3 days and there was A LOT less screaming after that. I felt a lot more confident because there was a method to the "madness" that I was following for a good long-term reason, so that made it easier to deal with it in the short run. After a couple days she caught on, some days she'd cry for less than 5 minutes and put herself to sleep without me having to go in, but then she started puting herself to sleep with no crying which was a great relief. It was SO worth a couple days of screaming and it didn't traumatize her. You have to be committed to this method or you'll teach them that if they scream long enough and hard enough they'll eventually get what they want. They have WAY more stamina than any adult, so this will backfire in the long run if you're not consistent with it and scrap it before a week is over. You have to keep in mind that they're not hurt and you're doing what's best for them in the long run - teaching them to fall asleep on their own without your intervention.

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