Friday, June 20, 2008

Getting Baby to Sleep

I think I posted awhile back about how the first night Alex didn't sleep at all (new parent + cold newborn = disaster). Well, it basically became my mission to figure out if there was anything I could do to help Alex sleep longer, and to know at what age I needed to do what so he would sleep as well as he could as soon as he could. I was somewhat disappointed to discover that there is not much you can do when babies are newly born. They need to eat often because they can't eat much, and they're too young to be trained to sleep longer (one book claimed that you could train a newborn, but from all the reviews on it, I don't believe it's true. I read the book as well, and completely disagree with the author). What the majority of books I read do agree on is that you can begin to train your baby between 12 and 16 weeks old.

However, I did find one book that was very helpful in knowing how to help soothe your baby when he's a newborn. That was The Happiest Baby on the Block. This book was great; it taught about how important swaddling is and the best way to swaddle (which was great, but I'm glad I found the swaddleblankets, which make it so much easier!), how to help soothe a newborn when he cries, and ways to help him sleep longer (mostly by swaddling). I highly recommend this book to all new parents (and possibly even to second- or third-time parents, if they haven't read it).

Another book I read was The Sleepeasy Solution. Now I haven't actually had to try this solution out, so I can't say whether it works or not, but it sounds good and had good reviews for the most part on This book is mostly for if you're baby is not sleeping well when he is older (at least 4 or 5 months old). They claim that it's to help from birth, but it really isn't. The authors just say that at that age, you can't really train a baby to sleep. But it goes through how to help your child if he is getting up at night to eat, or isn't sleeping through the night. It says how to help him take his naps, and so on. It seemed like a good way to do it, with minimal crying, and how to adjust depending on your situation, but again, since I haven't had to use it myself, I can't speak for how affective it is.

The third book I read was Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. This book was good, but I felt the information wasn't laid out well (it needs a good editor!). Still this book helped me get an idea of what my son should be able to do and at what age. By about 2 months old, I was dying and needed more sleep (I'm one of those weird people who do not do well with no sleep. I know that no one really does, but most people can handle it better than I can). I was also going back to work and so I couldn't take naps during the day, and when I was off work, I was taking care of Alex. So because of this book, I started the nightly routine at about 2 1/2 months. I didn't know if it would help him before 3 or 4 months old, but I figured it would be better to start too soon than too late. Within a week or two, he was sleeping about 10 hours a night, so I guess it was a good thing I started when I did. It's also helped me to know what I should do to get him down for naps, and it let me know that at his age, he should only be up for 2 hours in a row at the most. This has definitely been true with him. Once he's been up about an hour and a half, he starts to get cranky, and if I take him into his room, turn off the lights and cover the window, and swaddle him in a blanket, he will quiet down and start to fall asleep. Then I just put him in his crib. Sometimes he cries, but mostly he will fall asleep. This works better some days than others, but this book helped me realize how to know when to put him down and how to do it.

The last book I read was Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby. This was the book I mentioned above that I did not like at all (that claimed you could train a newborn). It completely stressed me out when I tried to follow its advice, and I disagree with some of the assumptions the author makes about babies. I felt a lot better when I decided to forget about that book and focus on the other books.

So overall, I recommend the first three books and not the last. I am really glad I decided to read them and I have a better understanding now of how to help my son sleep, which just as important as getting enough to eat.

Note: I used the he pronoun to make it easier and because I have a son, so he applies to me.

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