Baby sleep is a dilemma for all new parents. There are a lot of questions surrounding baby sleep such as:
Where should baby sleep? In the crib? In the nursery? Or, in a bassinet next to mom and dad?
The answers to these questions varies from family to family. Some parents spend hours working towards getting their baby to go to sleep. While other parents put their baby down awake in his crib, and their baby sleeps without being held.
Baby sleep is a personal choice for every family according to their lifestyle, and also the comfort of their baby. In this post, we will be reviewing the logistics of getting baby to sleep on his own and discussing when to start putting baby down awake.
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Putting Baby To Bed
For a newborn, parents are typically very focused on what’s best for their baby. Sleepless nights during this time are very common.
But, as their baby gets older, dealing with sleepless nights becomes more difficult. It is a struggle to put baby back to sleep every time he wakes up.
If a baby is an independent sleeper, it means he will not need help to fall asleep and also not need help to go back to sleep. He can soothe himself and fall asleep without intervention.
So, why can’t all babies sleep on their own? Is it possible for babies to not cry before sleeping? How can you get to a point where you put your baby to bed, in the crib, and he goes to sleep without crying?
The good news is that many babies do start sleeping through the night when they are 3 to 4 months old. This is especially true if parents encourage good sleeping habits, like having a simple baby bedtime routine, as early as possible.
If your baby is over 6 months old and his schedule is still not established, now is a a great time to work on a sleep routine. After 6 months, your baby is old enough for sleep training.
In summary, anytime is a good time to work on your baby’s sleep. The earlier the better, but if your baby is older, it’s not too late to work on helping your baby fall asleep on his own.
It is imperative to work on good sleeping habits with your baby, in order to be successful in putting your baby down awake. In the rest of this post we will review the steps needed to get your baby sleeping at a specific time and in a specific place, like his crib.
When Can Babies Fall Asleep On Their Own?
There is no defined age for when babies can fall asleep on their own. Babies do not have a regular sleep pattern until approximately 4 months of age.
Some babies find it harder to sleep on their own. For them, it might involve some crying and fussing which is a quite normal part of learning this sleeping skill.
If you do decide to sleep train, you should wait for until your baby is at least 6 months old. Before 6 months, there are some tips you can implement to be able to put your baby down awake without any crying.
Some examples include not sleeping in the same bed with your baby and not rocking your baby to sleep. Babies start learning at a very young age.
You should also pay close attention to your baby’s sleep routine from the time you bring him home from the hospital. This will help you develop an appropriate schedule for him.
How To Lay A Baby Down To Sleep
Laying a baby down in the crib to sleep can be tricky. Here are some tips to transition your baby to a crib in his own room.
To encourage your baby to sleep in his crib, the nursery plays a vital role. It’s important that your baby appreciates his space and enjoys the vibe of his room.
Pay close attention to the colors, lighting, temperature. The temperature of the nursery should be 64 to 68 degrees.
Feed Your Baby
Before you lay down your baby, make sure to nurse him or give him a bottle. This will allow your baby to sleep as long as possible before waking up from hunger.
If your baby uses a pacifier, then you can give him a pacifier too.
Stories Or Music
Having a proper baby bedtime routine that you follow religiously from birth signals, to your baby, that it’s time to relax and go to sleep.
When To Start Putting Baby Down Awake
You can start putting baby down awake as early as the newborn age. If your baby cries a little bit, before settling, there is nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, if your newborn is screaming for more than 5 minutes, then you will want to check on him. For older babies, sleep training might be needed, and you can wait longer before needing to check on them.
For sleep training, I recommend your baby is at least 6 months old and using the Ferber method. Don’t be discouraged if your baby cries. Continue putting your baby down awake and he should start learning to fall asleep, without being held, within a few days.
How To Put Baby To Bed While Awake
It is a great idea to put your baby to bed while awake but drowsy. It gives your baby a chance to associate falling asleep with being in his own sleeping quarters (i.e. crib or bassinet).
To ease the process of self-soothing for your baby, here are a few tips that you should follow before you put your baby to bed.
Set The Mood
Follow the same bedtime routine every day. This might include feeding your baby, dressing your baby for sleep, reading stories, and singing lullabies.
Eventually, your baby will understand that this routine means it is time for sleep.
Make sure to place your baby on his or her back for sleep. Clear the crib of blankets and soft toys to prevent choking or any other risks.
Follow a schedule each day. This includes nap times, eating, playtime, and bath time.
Be consistent with this schedule. When your baby is a newborn, the schedule will be less reliable. But, as your baby gets older, he will become familiar with his schedule.
If you follow the same routine each day, eventually your baby will have a predictable schedule around 3 to 4 months old.
For more help with your baby’s schedule you can click here to get example baby schedules for the entire first year!
What To Do If Putting Baby Down Drowsy But Awake Doesn’t Work?
Let us discuss a little bit about what the phrase, ‘drowsy but awake’, means. It means putting your baby down to sleep before he is sleeping soundly.
Learning how to fall asleep on their own is a useful life skill to teach infants. If you try putting your baby down and it does not work out, you should not stop trying.
Remember, consistency is the key. One day, your baby will get the hang of it and learn to fall asleep after being put down awake (yet drowsy).
Soon enough your little one will be capable of self-soothing in his crib, and will sleep happily in his own space every night. Do not pick your baby up immediately from his crib if he starts crying.
It is completely normal for babies to cry before and even during sleeping. Depending on their age, letting babies cry a little bit is okay.
Sometimes babies do fall back asleep on their own. This then teaches them how to self-soothe, even in the middle of the night. Just keep in mind it is not okay to let your baby cry for hours on end without checking on him.
Now on the other hand, if you feel like you have tried everything and just don’t know what to do, then I highly recommend the Baby D.R.E.A.M. System. The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System was built specifically to help parents whose babies are crying at night.
You will learn how to start routines, provide the best sleeping environment, adjust sleep times, and implement sleep training. All things you need to know how to do in order to put your baby to sleep while still drowsy.
Putting Baby Down Awake For Naps
Whether you are putting your baby down for a nap or for bedtime, you will want to put him to sleep while still awake. Follow the same routines described above at nap time too.
Plus, think of nap times as extra practice for your baby to get the hang of falling asleep on his own. This is actually the best time for you to try putting your baby down awake.
Naps are during the day, so you are not as tired yourself. This allows more productive time to focus on your baby’s sleeping habits.
Where Should Baby Sleep?
The safest place for a baby to sleep is in the same room as his parents, but in his own crib. A baby should be sleeping in his parent’s room ideally for 1 year, or at least 6 months.
Babies should never co-sleep with their parents because it increases the risk of SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy) and fatal sleeping accidents.
Putting Baby Down Awake
Teaching your baby how to fall asleep on his own is a great skill. As far as when to start putting baby down awake, that can done from the time you bring your baby home from the hospital.
Putting a baby down while awake but drowsy can be beneficial for the overall health and development of an infant. It helps him learn how to be a good, independent sleeper.
Before I sign off, just remember that whatever baby sleep decision you make for your baby, it is very likely best for him. You are his parent and you know what is best.
Best of luck as you navigate when and how to start putting your baby down awake.