As the babies evolve and develop, their sleeping hours, duration and patterns change, as well. During their first months of life, babies usually sleep most of the time, up to 20 hours a day. However, as the babies grow, their sleeping hours decrease. Their daily routine, including their resting hours, also undergoes changes. In most cases, it becomes harder to to comply with a sleeping pattern, as your baby is more active and he needs various activities to consume his energy.
When our baby turned 6 months, her sleeping periods became shorter and we had a hard time putting her to bed in the evening. Sometimes, although she was very tired, she could not fall asleep before 1:30 at night. We were worried and exhausted. We started to read about different approaches to the subject.
We ruled out CIO (Cry It Out), because it was not for us – we totally disagree with this practice. In our opinion, it is a method that is harmful to the parent-child relationship and makes children insecure. We also think that it is disrespectful and traumatic for our baby to leave her cry until she falls asleep.
We, then, tried to nurse her to sleep, sometimes rocking her in our portable rocker. It was exhausting for us, as parents, and she still wasn’t falling asleep early at night. And what’s more, we knew it was not a RIE solution and we were not proud of it.
After more reading, especially RIE related articles, we came to a conclusion: a baby’s healthy sleep involves a daily routine and a lot of observation.
So, we slowly started to feed her solid food at exact hours, followed by breastfeeding – she was breastfed on demand since she was born (now she is 8 months and she eats solids three times a day. She eats breast milk and drinks water whenever she needs it). We, also, started to go out daily for some fresh air, at noon, for at least half an hour. The rest of the day we/she played.
Other than this, we started to observe her behaviour and payed a lot of attention to her gestures and facial expression. Why? Because we found out that there is a very thin line between a tired baby and an overtired one. Once the baby gets overtired he builds resistance and going to sleep becomes a struggle for both the parents and the baby. More than this, an overtired baby gets up earlier in the morning, irritated most of the times, and wakes up more often during the night. We learned to distinguish the signs of early tiredness (like having difficulty focusing her eyes, becoming disinterested in her toys or needing constant attention) from those of overtiredness or exhaustion (like rubbing her eyes or nose, pulling ears or hair, yawning, getting ‘clingy’, becoming more and more active as the night wears on, sometimes crying inconsolably – this book clearly helped us). The first signs of drowsiness, we immediately stopped our current activity (in a respectful manner, of course) and created (or took her in) a suitable napping or sleeping environment (the environment is extremely important and we’ll definitely write an article about it).
It was difficult for us, for almost a month, to create this routine, but fortunately, it all paid off. Now she wakes up at 6:30 – 7:00 in the morning, takes two (sometimes three) naps during the day (at about 11:00 and, respectively, at 16:00) and she’s going to bed between 22:00 and 23:00 at night.
We are very proud of what we accomplished. It took time, a lot of patience and confidence from us, but we managed to develop good sleeping habits for our little baby daughter by creating a predictable daily life for her. She still doesn’t fall asleep on her own, in her crib (she likes to feel my arms around her – we surely have to work on that), but she does fall asleep in less than 5 minutes.
How do you put your baby to sleep?
Do share with us your struggles or your healthy sleeping habits!