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Sleep: Baby's First Year

Caroline A.
CAROLINE A.
Certified Child Sleep Consultant
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Stuck in a caffeine-powered, sleepless funk since baby's arrival? We hear you. Join us to learn more about raising the quality (and quantity!) of your family's snooze time! Led by Tinyhood Sleep Consultant, Caroline Adcock.

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Ask Caroline, our Certified Child Sleep Consultant!

Message Caroline
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Laying a baby down
ALI, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

Are there any tricks to laying a baby down in a crib so they don’t wake up in the transition from arms to mattress? I find it hard to get over the crib rail and set her down without her waking or stirring.

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi again ;-) You need to put the baby down while she is still somewhat awake as she needs to associate falling asleep on her own with going to sleep. Otherwise, you will continue to struggle with her waking up during the transition or repeatedly throughout the night as she gets older.

ALI

Thank you so much! She has been sleeping through the night since 6 weeks but she is 3 months now and we have always rocked her to sleep even for naps. How do you recommend starting the transition to laying her down awake? Considering everything else is fine do we let her cry for a period?

Caroline
CAROLINE

Make sure the room is nice and dark, use a white noise machine and lay her down when she is sleepy but before she becomes overtired (her current awake window is around 1-1.5hours). If she fusses right away, you can wait a little and see if she drifts off, if she doesn't pick her up until she calms down and then lay her down again.

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Getting baby to sleep and staying asleep
AKEYLA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

I’m having a hard time with my 5 month old have been since she was born. She’s a very light sleeper and anytime day or night anything will wake her

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Akeyla! It's hard to say what's going on without doing a more thorough analysis of your situation, but ensuring that the sleep environment is cavelike- really dark (blackout shades), with white noise, temperature between 68-72 degrees- and the baby is being offered a nap before she becomes overtired are the right steps to implement right now to improving your situation.

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Awake
ALI, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

When do babies learn to go to sleep on their own? In other words, if they are awake and you lay them down they can drift off to sleep without needing to be rocked to sleep.

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Ali! I would say most babies, if they are healthy, don't need any medical interventions, and aren't overly colicky, can learn that right away. The key is to not let them fall asleep while being held/rocked all the time but to put them down in their safe sleep environment every time they need to sleep, paying attention to their awake windows.

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Sleep
SAFOORA, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

My baby is 14 weeks old and he only sleeps when he’s held and rocked is there a better way I could use to make him sleep and he only sleeps for a couple of hours during the day are there any suggestions that I could follow to make him sleep more during the day so that I could get some work done in the house.

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Safoora! Pay attention to his waketime window, at this point it's somewhere between 1-1.5 hours. Try to wean him from sleeping in your arms being rocked by having him only sleep in his crib, in a darkened room, in a sleep sack. Don't let him fall asleep in your arms, put him down when he is drowsy but awake. It will take some practice and if he takes a pacifier that would be helpful. Use a whitenoise machine.

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Separation anxiety and sleep
RACHEL , PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

It seems that my 3 month old is only happy to sleep soundly being held. When he cries in the night I nurse him and get him back to sleep in my arms but as soon as I put him down he starts to cry. This usually only happens in the night, not for naps during the day (he naps for max 1 hour at a time 3-4 times a day). He is still so young I don’t feel comfortable letting him cry but I also need rest.

RACHEL

ETA he sleeps swaddled with white noise in his crib. He goes down after our night routine around 7 then tends to wake up sometime between 12 and 1. From there we are up every hour or two until 6 AM. He will nap within 2 hours of getting up in the morning, though.

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Rachel! Try to get him down when he is not yet asleep so he learns to self-soothe. It is quite normal for a baby to wake back up right away when he is used to falling asleep in your arms (and then consecutively throughout the night)- he expects the parameters that were present when he fell asleep to be present when he wakes up= being in your arms.

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When to start sleep training
SARAH, PARENT OF 23 MONTH OLD, 4 MONTH OLD

Is it ever too early to start sleep training? Right now, at three weeks old, I have just been focused on feeding her every 2-3 hours and getting sleep myself or getting things done when she sleeps for longer stretches. I am wondering if I should have more of a routine established for sleep at this point. If not now, then when?

Caroline
CAROLINE

Hi Sarah! It is best to wait with sleep training until a child is at least 4 months old when counting from the due date. At that point, babies will have developed a circadian rhythm that enables them to be on more predictable schedules. The best you can do until that point is to establish a strong foundation for healthy sleep habits: get your baby to bed before she becomes overtired (the awake window is about 45min to an hour at this point), practice the ABC of safe sleeping (alone, on her back, in her crib) follow a feed-play-sleep cycle, and allow her opportunities to learn self-soothing without being overly strict with it.