You might feel joy when you cradle your baby until he falls asleep, but at some point it's beneficial for you and your baby if he learns to fall asleep on his own. Babies who can fall asleep on their own are better able to soothe themselves back to sleep should they wake up in the middle of the night. They're also more familiar with their bedtime routines and sleep surroundings, which will help them fall asleep more quickly and easily. With a few tips and tweaks to your routine, you can gently train your baby to fall asleep on his own.
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Put your baby to sleep at the right time. Wait until she's awake but drowsy and beginning to nod off. Babies who are slightly awake when they're put down can see their surroundings and learn to recognize their cribs as normal parts of the sleeping process. Put her down in the same place each time to develop a pattern and sense of comfort with her surroundings.
Develop a schedule. Create predictable, consistent sleepy-time routines that your child will come to associate with sleep. Bathtime, singing, back rubs and other small, comforting, relaxing activities you can connect to bedtime will all help your baby learn that when those activities are finished, it's time to go to sleep.
Let your baby fuss for a moment. According to KidsHealth.org, babies often fuss, cry or make other noises while they're still lightly sleeping and will fall back into deeper sleep levels in a moment if undisturbed. Give your baby the chance to go to sleep on his own. If your baby continues to cry because he needs to be fed or changed, address those needs so he can settle back down.
Don't play with or entertain your baby if she wakes up in the middle of the night. KidsHealth.org recommends that you keep middle-of-the-night interactions strictly business, such as changing and feeding only. Your baby will soon learn that it's not fun to wake up during the night and will put herself back to sleep.
Break the cycle of rocking or cuddling your baby until he falls asleep in your arms. Once these patterns get established, they may need to be repeated each time your baby goes to sleep. Always let your baby fall asleep in his crib, even in the middle of the night, unless your baby is sick.