The Key to Getting Your Infant to Sleep
We've all been there
If you're a new parent, sometimes your little darling just won't nod off. Mine will rub his eyes for thirty minutes and yawn constantly, but some times he simply won't sleep. Ninety percent of the time he's wonderful and I just lie him in his crib and he'll look up at me and roll over and that's that. However, there's always that ten percent of the time when I want to scream because I can't make him happy. Here's how i handle it.
Leading up to Bedtime
I read tons of articles on the web before I had the baby that said set a routine. Man, they weren't kidding. At first, he was sleeping all the time anyways, so I didn't worry about it. But when your child gets old enough to know what's going on, you'll be thankful you've got a routine in place. Here's how our evenings are set up:
I pick him up from daycare at about 5:10 p.m. and we head home. When we make it home, I let him play a few minutes while I get things arranged. Then I put him in his high chair for some puffs and water while I cook supper. Then I feed him his baby food at the same time we eat. At about 7:00 we have bath time. After the bath, I put lotion on him and put him in his pajamas. Then I make him his bedtime bottle. We go into his room with the lights very dim and I usually tell him a story (I've tried reading books to him, but he always grabs for them. He's only nine months old so I guess it's just too early.) While I'm telling him the story, I've also got his mobile going so he hears the calming music. After his bottle, I put him in his crib and he goes to sleep.
When the Night Just Isn't Normal
While a routine will make your crying baby nights a lot fewer than if you didn't have a routine, sometimes the kid just doesn't want to cooperate. Right now, mine is teething so he just gets upset. Teething tablets are amazing, but they don't always work. First of all, hubby and I have a ten minute rule. I hate hearing him cry, and we only started this because one night I had done absolutely everything I could possibly think of and the baby wouldn't go to sleep. I swore up and down there was nothing wrong with him, so hubby said "well at 8:13 we can go get him. That's ten minutes." In three minutes, he was out.
The worst night so far we've ever had getting the baby to sleep was maybe two weeks ago. It was a Sunday night (it's like they know when we won't have the energy to stay up and be strong) and we laid him down at 8:00 then sat down to watch our show. Within the hour, he was crying and wouldn't go back to sleep. We picked him up out of the crib. We were up until about 12:30 trying to coax him back to sleep. He would sleep in our arms, but wake up as soon as we laid him down in the crib.
That was the first time we've picked him up but it was also the last. The next night he started the same pattern, but I had learned from our initial mistake. I didn't pick him up this time. I rubbed his back (he's a tummy sleeper) and sort of hummed/sang a little lullaby until he was back asleep. At first he wasn't having it, but each time he looked up at me, I just smiled so he knew I was there and he had my attention. It took him between 5-10 minutes to go to sleep like that.
I know the reason our baby has had these sleep problems is because of teething. Not only does it hurt his gums, but it also gives him an upset tummy which wakes him up. I've really started to heavily rely on the teething tablets. I pretty much always give them to him right before bedtime. If that doesn't help, I let him cry (I hate it, I really do, but if he's crying in my arms as well as crying in the crib, it won't matter if I pick him up). If he cries more than ten minutes-although sometimes I make it a full five before I move onto the next step, then I go in his room and try to soothe him to sleep.
This is what works for our family. I'd love to know what you do to help your little one get to sleep. I'm a new mom so I'm always interested in how other families are doing things!
Update September 2013
Our little boy is going to be 2 years old in November so I wanted to update this article a bit. Things have changed in that he doesn't cry very often after we've laid him down. He understands that it's night night time and we play with him after he's in the crib for 2-5 minutes. We have a mobile that projects animals on the ceiling, so we go through each animal a couple of times and what noise they make. For me, I go two cycles and say "Alright I love you goodnight" and start to walk out. I keep my face toward him though so that I can keep going through the animals as I'm walking away. He seems to do better that way. Daddy stays with him for 5-10 minutes and then leaves. We have definitely stuck with a before bedtime routine and he knows he gets to sit with us on the couch for a few minutes before we lay him down. It's worked for us so far, but things might change when he gets a bit older!