How can I get my baby to fall asleep on her own?

Nicola - posted on 11/26/2009 ( 22 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 12 weeks old and we have got into some bad habits. At night time she has always fallen asleep on my breast and I have just put her in her moses basket straight from the breast asleep. In the day time for her naps we have always rocked her in our arms and let her either sleep on us or in her pram. However, realising our bad habits and now suffering with very bad backs we are desperatly trying to get her to nap in her cot and want her to be able to settle herself when she is tired rather than us having to rock her for 20 minutes!

I have been trying all day to get her to nap in her cot, but each time I try and her head hits the mattress she wakes up and screams at me. I am well aware of the crying it out technique, but am so worried she will think I've abandoned her that I'm so scared to try it and I just can't listen to her scream the heart wrenching screams that she does! I have tried settling her, leaving her to cry for a few minutes then going back in, settling her again, etc, etc, but she just doesn't give me! We are now both exhausted and she hasn't napped all day! I know a day isn't long enough to get out of three months of bad habits, but can someone please just clarify that I'm doing the right thing as I spend the whole day second guessing myself! Can anyone offer any advice on her we can overcome these bad habits? We would be so grateful!

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User - posted on 11/08/2012

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My daughter is 10 months old and I am trying to get her to fall asleep on her own. I still breast feeds and she wakes up every 2-3 hours so she sleeps in my bed. She has a crib but when I put her down around 8 after she has had a bath and bottle and sometimes breast, she cries so much until I goes to pick her up and rock her. My older kids think I'm mean for allowing her to cry so much. What do I do? Just allow her to cry herself to sleep. I breaks my heart to see her cry so much.

Jessica - posted on 11/28/2009

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well for one you not abandoning her... have you tried sleepnig her on her side?
i have the same problem with zac his 10 1/2 mths and i still have to hold him to go to sleep. silly us! at the moment im trying to give him his bottle and burp him and before his asleep we are putting him in bed on his side. i ssssshhhh him and rub him back stop and wait i continue to do this untill his asleep. not sure if this helps. maybe your little girl is too small to sleep on her side but you could prop herwith a towel. hope hom how if helped you
best of luck

Mabyn - posted on 04/02/2013

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Whoa, this just has to be said: 12 weeks is way too young to expect a baby to self soothe and falling asleep on the breast is totally normal for a baby that young. There are no such things as bad habits when your baby is that young and 20 minutes of rocking is not that long. Of course she cries when you lay her down. She's so tiny and still needy. You are her everything and she just wants to be held close and cuddled by her mother, someone she loves and recognizes their voice, smell, etc. She feels safe when she's with you. Trust me, soak up all the baby time you can while they're still small because they don't stay that small for long and before you know it, you'll be wishing she was that little again.

NATALIE MICHON - posted on 12/03/2009

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I went through the same thing with my son... I had to lay him on my lap on a pillow (that kept him feeling consistant warmth) and then laid him (still on the pillow) in his bed. Then I started laying him directly on the pillow in his bed... He feels the same feeling and also the pillowcase has MY scent. It took about a month to truly transition. But hey - it was well worth the wait!

Cherish these moments when they want to be cuddled... My daughter is 14 months... I have to beg her for a hug!!! :-D. Good luck mom!

Sandra - posted on 12/02/2009

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There is no such thing as a bad habit with a small infant it is only when they develop say 6 months that it becomes a habit. Babies are to be loved and enjoyed not endured. I had the problem of my daughter being in hospital for several weeks after birth and after we left she had some strange routines due to the staff working shifts . She didnt understand day and night cause the lights were always on . We found that soft and soothing music worked wonders and the sound of waves or people softly talking. Try some soothing lavender in the room not on the baby . Good Luck I hope all goes well.

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Tess - posted on 12/04/2009

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hi, well we did the same but our daughter actually started gettin annoyed with being held.. the best thing too do is put her in her bed after the feed etc and leave her there, let her cry it wont do any harm at all. if anything ull prob find she will sleep better. do it now so tht u dont have to when shes too much older.! goodluck

!!

Margaret - posted on 11/30/2009

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allow crying for a little while maybe 15 mins then pat the baby maybe a short cuddle and encourage her to sleep.Maybe it could be colic-maybe feed water before bed.Don't feel guilt or worry the answer is somewhere.

[deleted account]

Read Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child. It's pretty good and has been helping us. Also, when you put baby down, keep patting her butt lightly until you see her eyes close. One other thing I really like is this light up seahorse I purchased for $13.00 that plays lullabyes. My baby stares at it until she falls asleep. I don't remember the brand, but Target and Toys r Us sell them. Wish you luck!

Nicola - posted on 11/28/2009

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Thanks so much for all of your suggestions. I have spent the last few days trying the 'shh pat' technique with Millie when putting her down for naps, but it just doesn't settle her. She will only seem to fall asleep in my arms while being gently bounced! I think part of the problem is that I give in too easily to her crying, so I start trying the 'shh pat' and then as soon as she starts crying again I bounce! I will definately try some of the ideas you have given and hope we can find a way to get her to get ger to fall to sleep on her own for naps and at night. On a plus side, she is at least taking naps in her cot now! Once she is asleep on me I move her to her cot and instead of waking up once her head hits the mattress she does now stay down for around half an hour, so that's a new development. Also, after a night feed last night I put her back in her cot asleep, but she woke up instantly, but instead of picking her straight back up like I used to I left her to see what would happen as she wasn't crying, and after about ten minutes of her talking to herself and sucking on her fists (she hasn't found her thumb yet!) she did fall back to sleep!! So she can do it when she wants to!!!!!

Samantha - posted on 11/27/2009

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I have a very similar problem with my 15-week old, and am a couple of weeks into trying to put right the bad habits we inadvertently got into. After reading a few suggestions, I favoured the 'gradual withdrawal' approach that Renae described in the first response, but had a problem with it - patting to sleep didn't work with my baby, he wasn't sufficiently soothed by the patting. So the first challenge was to find a way to get him to fall asleep in the cot at all, even with help. With a bit of trial and error I've found that bouncing the cot mattress usually helps for my baby - I put my hands either side of his head and gently push up and down, the motion seems to soothe him, and he drops off to sleep.
It doesn't always work first time; sometimes he still cries for a cuddle instead of a bounce, and when that happens we pick him up and cuddle him till he's calm again – this isn't 'giving in' to him, it's just the best way to get success as the only way he'll eventually fall asleep in the cot (without effectively crying it out) is if he's calm enough.
He's gone to sleep in his cot (with bouncing and usually singing too), rather than being cuddled to sleep on my chest, several nights in a row, so now I'm slowly beginning to try and withdraw the bouncing. As someone else said, it seems to be two steps forward one step back, but I think there's some progress. Since it seems to be working, I'm really glad we persevered with finding our own variation on 'gradual withdrawal' rather than reverting to other techniques that probably involve more crying. So really I just wanted to say if you try it and it doesn't seem like its going to work, a bit of trial and error to find something that does work for your own baby might be worthwhile. Good luck!

Donna - posted on 11/27/2009

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I actually remember climbing in the cot and feeding, I was so desperate for my daughter to get in the routine sleepin in the cot ; )

Kristi - posted on 11/27/2009

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Nicola, we too did the same thing for our daughter, now 19months, and we were so sick of everyone telling us how wrong we were but we didn't do it on purpose it happened exactly the same way as you have described and then she was suddenly months old. Unfortunately we couldn't bare the cry technique either, but what eventually worked for us was to let her sleep in our arms for 10 minutes then on the couch beside us for another 10 minutes then into the cot, after a few weeks of this she was happy to lay on the couch beside me and go to sleep with us in full view for security, left her asleep for 10 minutes then into the cot. We were able to start putting her into the cot semi- asleep and sit beside her until she went to sleep, sometimes it was 1 step forward and 2 steps back but I wouldn't make her stay if she got upset as I found this just made her too distressed and more clingy. Unfortunately she got sick and spent a few nights sleeping with us and has gone back to going to sleep next to me on the couch but thats fine for us. Don't feel like a failure as they eventually don't want to be nursed to sleep so as hard as it is enjoy those cuddles, they are over before you know it. Hope this helps and good luckxx

[deleted account]

Yes you could be so right, that crying it out will certainly make her feel abandoned.

She is only a baby and babies need their moms.

She is exhausted because she is overtired. Please keep hugging her and reassuring her.

Oh and I don't think she has had 3 months of bad habits. Babies are used to being carried in their mums bodies, they don't want to be left alone, they want to be with you.

There is nothing wrong with holding her or whatever until she is peacefully asleep.

You woulnd't have to do this forever, but I think she needs this now.

Margaret from

www.BabySleepAdvisory.com.

Roxanne - posted on 11/26/2009

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I hear you loud and clear. I got stuck in the falling asleep at the breast rutt. Do yourself a huge favor and hang in there with trying to let her fall asleep on her own. You will be soooooooo happy you did. I let her at the breast for too long and couldn't get her off anymore. I got stuck waiting 2 hrs each night till she was fully asleep at the breast so I could move her to her crib until she was 14 months and I decided to wean her off. It was a nightmare for two-three days, but then she learned. Maybe try sitting in her room for a few minutes singing or reading and then leave. Go back as many times as you feel u need to, but do let her cry for a little bit. Also, I'm not sure if you already do this, but I have a CD player in her room and when I put her down I press play ad she likes the soothing sounds of ambiance music.

It really sounds like u're doing everything right. Just stick with it. And please, lease, whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE IN AND PICK HER UP. The minute u do that you're done. Babies are sneaky little creatures. If you don't give in, in a few days they realize there is not point in crying anymore cause they won't get anywhere with it. But if you give in, they've got you.They will sit there and cry forever cause they know eventually you WILL crack.

good luck and please keep us posted on your progress.

Amy - posted on 11/26/2009

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i agree with Lyn. the Save our sleep routine is fantastic!! good luck with it!

Lyn - posted on 11/26/2009

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Go to the website saveoursleep.com by renound Baby Whisperer Tizzy Hall. You can download sleeping/feeding routines from birth right through to toddler for a couple of dollars each. I have had by girl on them since she was 3 months old (would have been sooner if I had known about it) and now I have no dramas what so ever. I just put her in her cot and she goes to sleep. It is also perfect because you always know what time they will need sleep and what time they will be hungry so you can book outings and appointments around those times so that you arent going out with a cranky baby. Was great for my husband too because if he was looking after her and she cried, he would just look at the routine and know what she was crying about. Best of Luck. I LOVE having Elissa on these routines - means at 7pm every night she goes to bed and then it's ME time!!

Gail - posted on 11/26/2009

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thats a relly good response reane, i got into the same bad habbit with my first, you could try leaning a scent of yours near the cot, ( obviousliy something that is safe) but i would try to not got stressed out about it as your baby will pick up o these vibes. i would agree with reane, try the patting.

Renae - posted on 11/26/2009

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PS if you decide you cant wait a few weeks and need to use a crying method that works in a few days, again feel free to msg me and I'll tell you how to do it so that your baby doesn't get distressed.

Renae - posted on 11/26/2009

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Ok, 1st it is impossible NOT to get into these bad habits. You cant teach a baby to sleep on their own from day 1 because they all fall asleep feeding, so you didn't do anything wrong. 2nd, 12 weeks is the perfect time to start to teach her to go to sleep on her own. 3rd, you do not have to use a crying method if you dont want to. There are lots of other way to do it.



The 1st method I recommend you try is gradual withdrawal. This has an 80% success rate but is very effective around 12 weeks, less effective with older babies if you ask me. To start you will need to get her used to being put in her cot/basket awake and patted to sleep, pat to sleep for 1 week. Then over the next 2 weeks you gradually stop patting earlier and earlier until she can be put in the cot and go to sleep herself. Google "infant sleep gradual withdrawal" for exact instructions, lots of behaviourists use this method.



A faster method but some people think its a bit harder on bub is the Baby Whisperer Tracy Hogg's "pick up / put down" method. She has a website and a support forum for people using the method. You have to follow her exact instructions for it to work so best to google it. Apparently it is a very successul method.



You could also get the book "Save Our Sleep" - some excellent and different techniques. "No cry sleep solution" is also very good.



Feel free to msg me if the above 2 methods dont work or you have questions as there are more options if you want them (but this would be a very long post!).

Renae - posted on 11/26/2009

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Ok, 1st it is impossible NOT to get into these bad habits. You cant teach a baby to sleep on their own from day 1 because they all fall asleep feeding, so you didn't do anything wrong. 2nd, 12 weeks is the perfect time to start to teach her to go to sleep on her own. 3rd, you do not have to use a crying method if you dont want to. There are lots of other way to do it.



The 1st method I recommend you try is gradual withdrawal. This has an 80% success rate but is very effective around 12 weeks, less effective with older babies if you ask me. To start you will need to get her used to being put in her cot/basket awake and patted to sleep, pat to sleep for 1 week. Then over the next 2 weeks you gradually stop patting earlier and earlier until she can be put in the cot and go to sleep herself. Google "infant sleep gradual withdrawal" for exact instructions, lots of behaviourists use this method.



A faster method but some people think its a bit harder on bub is the Baby Whisperer Tracy Hogg's "pick up / put down" method. She has a website and a support forum for people using the method. You have to follow her exact instructions for it to work so best to google it. Apparently it is a very successul method.



You could also get the book "Save Our Sleep" - some excellent and different techniques. "No cry sleep solution" is also very good.



Feel free to msg me if the above 2 methods dont work or you have questions as there are more options if you want them (but this would be a very long post!).

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