Getting Your Baby to Sleep
Getting a child to sleep on her own is not an easy thing to do. You have to be strong. I did a great job with my oldest child, but to this day I have trouble with my younger children and bedtime. The trick is to outlast them. Your baby will cry her eyes out and be totally pitiful when you first try to get her to settle in to sleep on her own. If you are satisfied your baby is not wet, hungry, ill, colicky, or in immediate danger, you will need to tolerate the crying if you want to help her get into a routine.
A baby monitor is a type of intercom that lets you hear the sounds your baby makes when the two of you are in different rooms. It's a great peace-of-mind preserver, especially during the first few days after baby is moved into his or her own room.
Trust me on this. My oldest child went to bed so consistently that I was able to get work done after she was in bed. But I caved in with my two younger ones, and to this day I am exhausted by the time I get them to bed.
Better Now Than Later
If one parent has a work schedule that lets him (or her) see the baby only after she's gone to sleep, consider keeping the baby up a little later. It is not going to hurt the baby to create a schedule that gives her more time awake to see Mommy or Daddy. The key here is to remember that you are in control. No matter what time you set as bedtime, you're the one to choose it, not baby. Being in control with an infant is more feasible if you can get past the crying. Once the child is really conscious of his or her own power to manipulate you, you will find yourself in an all-out war.
Setting a standard bedtime for your kids is for your benefit. Grown-ups deserve some downtime of their own after spending all day with an infant, so you don't want bedtime to leave you too exhausted for anything else afterward. Work together with your partner to try to create the bedtime ritual that works best for you.
Most of all, you want to establish routines early in the game. In the case of my two younger children, I didn't do that. As I said, I caved. Do I pay for it now? You bet. Now that I have figured out the game, am I better at it than I used to be? You bet. It just would have been easier to establish patterns early on rather than battle them out now.
A Schedule Can Set You Free
If you can, try to get into a routine for all the baby's basic activities. If you can establish some consistency with bedtime, meals, and bathtime you are off to a very good start. But keep in mind that these schedules are merely tools for managing your life. Allow yourself the flexibility to be spontaneous once in a while. If you never go out because you do not want to ruin baby's routine, you are headed for problems. You are no longer in control—the schedule is. So, although you want to establish a basic schedule, don't be afraid to break it once in a while. Babies are much more resilient than you might think. If they stay up a little later than usual they will be a little more fussy. It will not be a tragedy.
More on: Your Baby and Sleep
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motherhood © 1999 by Deborah Levine Herman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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