My baby was not a good sleeper. She relies a lot with me to put her to sleep. And once she falls asleep, she didn’t not stay asleep for long. This problem really exhausted me. I become sleep-deprived, and worst yet, easily burst out in anger. I need to find solutions. So, I search all possible ways that can help me solve this problem. After trying numerous approaches, finally I managed to handle this issue better. Now, I would like to share some tips on how to get my baby to sleep better at night.
(1) Establish a bed time routine
Kids thrive on routine. When I said routine, it does not mean a very strict time-based schedule. Instead, we have a sequence of activities that are following consistently, around the same time. For example, around 8 o’clock, I start preparing my baby to leep. I begin with diaper changing routine, teeth brushing, nursing, reciting prayer, then sleep.
When we have a routine, the baby knows what to expect from time to time. So, when I change her diaper at night, internally she knows that soon after this, it’s bed time. Thus, internally she prepares herself to sleep and falling asleep becomes much easier.
(2) Watch the natural sleeping window.
I used to keep my baby awake til late so that I can finish other tasks first. When it’s time to put her to sleep, she’s extremely tired. I thought that a tired baby will fall asleep faster. Boy, I was wrong. Instead, she’s getting even crankier and I need to spend at least an hour carrying and rocking her before I can finally put her down on the bed.
Only after reading book about sleep, then I understand that an overtired individual, be it a baby or adult, will secrete a hormon called serotonin, which makes him/her more active (or should I say ‘hyperactive’, which makes them even more difficult to fall asleep).
Ok, back to sleepy window. So, I observed my baby to find any signs when she feels sleepy. Yawning, rubbing eyes, or want to be carried all the time are some of the signs. Only after I observed her carefully, I realized that I need to adjust her bed time much earlier. After the bed time adjustment, my baby falls asleep much faster than before.
(3) Eliminate sleep crutch
Sleep crutch is negative association between something and sleep. Say, if a baby is used to rocked to sleep, anytime she wakes up, she’ll expect to be rocked again to sleep, because that’s her ‘routine’. She does not know how to go to sleep other than being rocked to sleep. So, rocking to sleep is a sleep crutch. Another example, if baby is nursed to sleep. She will expect that she’ll nurse all time time while she’s sleeping ( or should I call it lip nursing because she’s actually just nibbling on breast and not taking any milk).
So, these two examples show how a baby being dependent to certain approaches to put her back to sleep. And it is parent’s responsibility to be able to break this sleep crutch. Or else, she’d depend on it forever, not knowing that she can actually fall asleep by her self, independently.
Being exhausted with sleep deprivation, I began looking for any possible solutions to help my baby sleeps better. Among all methods that I’ve read, I am more inclined to gentle sleeping method.
(4) Be consistent
This is important. Parents must be consistent when they start sleep training their babies. If you do certain sleep training method at day 1, and stop at day 2, the baby gets confused what should she do and she won’t learn the skill to sleep by herself. Also, don’t just try one sleep training method for just 3 days, then give up and say it does not work for you. Of course it doesn’t work, you haven’t tried hard enough. Try harder, give it a chance for say, a month, and see what will happen.
(5) Seek support from others
Don’t tackle this sleep issue by your self. Involve your spouse, take turn in putting your baby to sleep so that the little one does not depend on you ALL THE TIME. Speak to your elder children that mommy needs to put little baby to sleep. If there’s other adult in the house, let him/her handle the other children. Or else, teach your elder child to play by him/herself independently. Among some great idea about independent play are introducing quiet time (with quiet box or quiet books for your children to explore) while you put baby to sleep.
When I was frustrated with my baby sleep issue, I stumbled upon Sleeping lady website. Her website is full of new knowledge to me, and I learnt a lot from her. When I know that she has a book discussing about sleep issue, I am more than eager to read it. You know what, she even offer free chapters out of her book. And hey, this freebie is not only one or two pages, it is two full chapters explaining the basic science of sleep and how to get started on sleep training your baby and children. You can access the free chapters here.
What I love about her book:
- It enlists a comprehensive guide to solve various sleep issues with children, I am not taking only about a baby here, but children of different ages: 6 months to 6 years old , bed sharing, transitioning from sharing room to a single room, co-sleeping and many more.To me, it’s kind of a handbook, or say, sleep dictionary, that I may refer from time to time.. So maybe now, I am searching solution for my baby sleep issue, but I know in the future I need to address how to transition my elder son to his own room. Having a book that covers it all make it easy to refer back when you need it.
- Gentle approach that can be tweaked to better tailor family-specific needs. Although Kim provide a detailed guide how to do the sleep training, it is not so rigid such that you MUST follow each of her method. You can slow down or even speed up to adjust to how your child responds.
- A lot of real practical examples from real parents. To be honest, when I started reading her books, I thought perhaps my problem is one of the worst or maybe simply too worst it won’t get discussed in the book. The reality is….Hey, there are so many parents with exactly the same problems, and I’ve read many more with even worst cases. Truthfully, I felt enlightened, I am not alone, I got back my spirit to solve this issue. They can do it, why can’t I? And also, the examples cover practically almost children of any age. Sleep training a 6-month baby who is not crawling yet is definitely different from sleep training a two year old who can jump out from the crib, right?
- Full support from sleep experts. Yes, they don’t just sell you the book and say good luck to you! In fact, the have a support group in Facebook where you can share your issues. I haven’t tapped into this at the moment, since I don’t have Facebook account, but having someone out there ready to help you is really something, isn’t it?
In summary, I feel really glad to find this book as a rescue to my baby sleep issue. I am progressing slowly to achieve better sleep for my baby (and for my own), and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And I think I’m not the only one raving about Kim and her website. One of my favourite mothering website (Tove from mamainthenow.com) actually paired up with a sleep expert to help other parents solving sleep problem in their children. And Kim’s book is one of the most recommended book for sleep issue in children between 6 months to 5 years old. See more here.
And also, the book has gotten so many great reviews as you can see here. So, if you are parents looking to solve your baby or children sleep problem, I strongly recommend you to check this out. See the website or read the book review here.
PS: I bought the Kindle version of her book, simply because it’s easier to have the book in my phone so that I can read on the go.
Have you gone through any sleep issue with your baby? Which method works better for you?
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to product I strongly recommend or personally use.