4 Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep All night

Ask The Experts by Patty Werner

Q: I am an expectant mother with anxiety about sleeping issues once the baby arrives. What can I do to help my baby sleep well?"

A: "Whaaa! Whaaa! Whaaa!" It is the sound that wakes new parents out of a deep sleep! And for parents who are months into sleep deprivation, it is a dreaded sound! Squinting at the alarm clock, mustering up every bit of energy to go into their baby's room, they wonder in exhaustion, "When will this ever end?"

As a baby sleep expert, I hear the frustration and hopelessness from the families that I work with. Many first time parents experience this anxiety and it is normal? The first few months will be on the baby's schedule, but after they are a bit older, you can begin to put them on a "schedule."

While I don't possess the magic wand to wave over their baby's head, granting that 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep, I can offer 4 pieces of solid advice that will help them get the sleep they need.

1. Avoid Cry-It-Out: Leaving babies alone to cry until they fall asleep seems to work for some families. However, the truth is that the hormones released by the stress experienced by infants when left to cry themselves to sleep actually changes baby's brain chemistry. Recent studies link this brain alteration to adult addiction. The healthier choice is to support your baby through the process of learning how to sleep independently, thus avoiding Cry-It-Out.

2. Prevent Accidental Parenting: Holding, feeding, rocking or even driving your baby around for sleep may work during a rough night, but it is imperative to ask yourself, "Is this something I want to do six months from now? A year from now?" That is Accidental Parenting. You do what works at the moment, not making a conscious parenting decision about how you will handle the same situation down the road. The decision becomes a habit, and that habit becomes a sleep prop that your baby relies upon in order to settle to sleep. Encouraging healthy sleep habits in the first place will get your entire family on the right path to a good night's rest.

3. Set the Stage for Sleep: A full night of sleep begins in the morning. Getting baby on an age appropriate feeding schedule, making sure baby is getting the required amount of daytime sleep and providing structure to your baby's day are all part of the foundations needed for healthy sleep. If their day is chaotic and baby is overtired before bedtime approaches, their bodies will work against sleep and their sleep will be restless, leading to another day of exhaustion and then the cycle repeats itself. By 4 months, a full-term baby could be expected to sleep approximately 4 • hours during the day and 11-12 hours overnight, with one to two feeds overnight.

4. Be Consistent in Your Sleep Approach: However you decide to encourage your baby to learn to self-soothe and sleep independently, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. Choose a method you are comfortable with and then stick with it for at least 10 days! It will take at least that long to see progress. But I promise you, with commitment, you will absolutely see growth in your child's sleep habits.

My favorite days are when I get the text from one of my parents saying, "Guess who slept 8 hours straight last night, in his own room?!" That is the best message ever and It is why I do what I do. Good sleeping habits are the foundation for a happy and healthy baby and family!

Patty Werner is the only Certified Maternity and Baby Sleep Consultant in Michigan. As a baby sleep specialist, she customizes gentle, no-cry Sleep Plans for families experiencing difficulties with their little ones and supports her clients through the training process. You can reach Patty at (248) 770-4655 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also visit her website: www.babysleepallnight.com. Werner is a member of the Family Center's Association of Professionals.

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Top Ten Mistakes Parents Make with Baby's Sleep

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