Jackie has recently written a post sharing her struggles with getting Evie to sleep in a crib. Our friend and sleep consultant, Alanna McGinn has offered to help her out by answering some of Jackie’s questions below.
Hey there tired parents, I feel your pain. For Ryan and I it really hasn’t been too bad… up until now. It’s only been a few nights of restless sleep so I want to nip this in the butt and get things under control while we still can. I’m talking about the ‘transition’ phase. It’s time to finally have Evie in her own room and in her own bed. It’s actually 11:30pm right now (daylight savings is keeping me wired tonight) and I’ve already been up several times tonight to feed Evie and rock her back to sleep. These are no no’s right? I actually just spent the last half an hour reading a bunch of Alanna McGinn’s blog posts in hopes that I would find the answer to my current crib dilemma. Then I thought to myself… I should write down some of the questions I’m having and hopefully if you’re going through the same thing I am we can help each other out.
- What time should my child be going to bed at? I’ve been reading that 7pm is common but that seems SO EARLY doesn’t it? Is it terrible to put your baby down at 8pm? I understand that the later they’re awake the more overtired they may get. Poor Evie… she has definitely been getting to bed too late.
An earlier bedtime is sometimes all that is required to get your child sleeping through the night. The better rested a child is going to bed the better accepting they will be of that bedtime and bedtime battles will be history! You’ll get your nights back and your baby will go down before he’s overtired. I know logically we think the earlier we put them the bed the earlier they’ll wake in the morning but when babies are put to bed too late they become overtired and have a hard time falling sleep and staying asleep throughout the night. The earlier you out her to the better she will sleep through the night and longer she will sleep in the morning.
- I’ve read that if your baby wakes and starts crying that you shouldn’t rush into the room. What exactly are my options here. I really hate thinking about letting her ‘cry it out’. Is that my best bet? Will she fall back asleep on her own?
This is where parents need to do some research and find the sleep training method that works with their own parenting philosophy. No one child is the same and what works for one child may not work for the next. Consistency is key and if you aren’t comfortable with the method you won’t be consistent with it. That being said, no matter what method you choose, whether it’s gradual or more direct there likely will be some crying as you are changing how you respond to your child and the crying stems from change. It’s important to choose the method that works best for the child. The one that she will accept best and be easier on her.
- How many times should she be waking up in the night. I read that 1-3 times is normal for a 4 month old baby. Is this true? Should she be having a full feed and then going right back to sleep? Is she supposed to eat until she falls asleep and then I just lay her down?Can I rock her? These thoughts literally go through my mind every time.
At 4 months of age your baby is capable of sleeping through the night, though incorporating one feed is fine. A quick explanation of the term ‘sleeping through the night’. We all wake up throughout the night as we are transitioning through sleep cycles. Our babies wake up as well. None of us actually sleep through the night but the key to sleep training is to teach our babies to fall back to sleep independently when they do wake up and that is sleeping through the night.
We need to remember that our children are 100% capable of putting themselves to sleep. When we are doing it for them each time, like rocking and nursing to sleep, it becomes a problem because your baby will need you to do that again each time they wake up throughout the night. It doesn’t mean you can’t feed, rock and cuddle your baby before sleep. But try not to do it TO sleep at bedtime. Put them down awake so that they can start practicing the skill of self-soothing. Stop. Wait. Listen. You may surprise yourself when they fall back asleep on their own.
When giving her a night feed don’t worry too much about the rules as long as you are keeping stimulation low. Go in and feed her and put her back down. Brief and boring.
- Is she going through the 4 month sleep regression. What exactly is the 4 month sleep regression? What are the tell tale signs?
At this stage in their lives, babies begin to sleep more like adults. That is, they can no longer block out their incredibly loud siblings, the sounds of the grocery store or the party going on around them. Unlike their newborn selves, they no longer spend a lot of time in deep sleep and they now sleep in cycles – between light and deep sleep. Just like adults.
These light and deep sleep cycles mean your baby will wake more often. When they’re in the state of partial arousal, babies may need your help with falling asleep again. They might need the environment in which they fell asleep to be recreated (like being rocked or nursed to sleep).
During this stage you want to make sure to :
- Give her a consistent place to sleep. Put her down to nap in the same place where she sleeps at night. Crib sleep is the best.
- Put her down drowsy, but not asleep. This will teach her to be comfortable and happy, that will help her go to sleep on her own.
- Establish an early bedtime. You always want to avoid putting down an overtired baby. Early bedtime is key.
- Practice a consistent, soothing routine. A regular routine will help her get used to bedtime and will assist her in falling asleep on her own.
Can You relate to any of these thoughts? I understand that daytime sleep can have a huge impact on nighttime sleep as well. I’ve been told that babies love routine and it’s important to establish a bedtime routine for baby so that they can settle themselves when they wake at night, so they can sleep longer through the night and so that they can go to sleep easier.
What is your current bedtime routine? Would love to hear from you in the comments below.