Baby in the Bed

Parenting expert Jan Faull, MEd, helps a new mother learn how to get her baby to fall asleep on his own.
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Breaking Habits

Q. "My 5-month-old son sleeps in our bed. It started because my husband works away from home for two weeks at a time. I would breastfeed my son in bed and we'd both fall asleep. Now the only place he will sleep is in our bed. Additionally, now he won't sleep unless someone is holding him. He will fall asleep, but he wakes up when put down and won't go back to sleep. As a result of this he has no schedule -- or rather, his sleeping schedule is based on his feeding schedule. What can I do to get him back on a regular sleeping schedule, in his crib?"

A. Your son associates sleeping with your presence as a result of his habit of nursing to fall asleep. This habit and association are common and can be a difficult cycle to break, but it's not impossible. At 5 months, your son can learn to calm himself in order to sleep. He simply needs the opportunity to learn how.

Teach Him to Self-Soothe

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sleep habits are established by age 6 months. Since you wish to move him out of your bed, it's best to start working toward that goal now. It will be far easier for him to learn to put himself to sleep now than it will be when he's older. Be prepared for it to take about three weeks for your son to make the shift to the new sleeping routine and schedule. Instead of putting him in his crib and letting him cry it out, or just hoping that he'll voluntarily start sleeping on his own, you'll need to develop a plan. And in order for it to work, you must be consistent.

Continued on page 2:  Change the Schedule


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