Getting Your Baby to Sleep

Create Strong Sleeping Habits by Recognizing Your Baby’s Expected Sleep Pattern:

Babies between 4 and 6 months of age begin to wake up every 2-3 hours as part of their normal development.

Be Cautious of the Habits Your Establish

This is a time when babies can get into bad habits by accident. For instance, if you feed your baby every time she fusses, she will learn to eat each time she wakes up at night and to need you to soothe her back to sleep. This is not the optimal way to get  your baby to sleep - not for your baby, and not for you.

As a new mom, I made this mistake with my son. He was a poor eater, so when he started to wake up more frequently at night, I mistakenly assumed he was hungry and fed him. I very quickly came to regret this decision, because he got into the habit of eating at night, and it was very difficult to change this habit. It took a long time and quite a bit of crying on both our parts to accomplish this.

Be very careful what sleep habits and associations you teach your baby because they can become deeply-ingrained, long-term habits.

When you start out properly, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary issues later on.

If you have taught your baby to self soothe, when she wakes up at night and it is a normal nighttime arousal, you will hear her fuss a little and then she will go back to sleep on her own. But if she does not know how to self soothe, she will wake up completely and cry for you to come put her back to sleep.

Try This:

Here is what to do if your 4-6 month old starts to wake up at night. Make sure to avoid going in immediately. See what your baby does and react accordingly.

If this is a normal arousal and she knows how to self-soothe, she will look around and then go back to sleep on her own after a little fussing. If she wakes up and is playing quietly, do not go in. Leave her to entertain herself. She should fall back asleep on her own. Lack of stimulation will naturally put your baby to sleep.

If your baby wakes up and and she needs you to do something for her, she will fuss and then cry out loud. She may have a dirty diaper, she may be feeling sick, or she may be wanting you to soothe her back to sleep. In this case, you should try the following:

  1. Go into baby’s room.
  2. Check up on her quickly and quietly, with a minimum of stimulation (don’t turn on bright lights, try not to talk to her, or even pick her up, unless you need to).
  3. Do what you see needs to be done as quickly and quietly as possible so she doesn’t wake up fully or learn any bad sleep associations.
  4. Put her back down quickly and quietly so she can fall asleep on her own.

Sometimes, when babies are getting ready to start solid food, they may actually need to eat at night. So, if your baby wakes up a few nights in a row and you have to feed her a few ounces in order to go back to sleep, feed her quickly and quietly, burp her, and get her back in bed quickly.

This is a good time to consider starting her on baby foods during the day, as this may get your baby to sleep through the night. If your baby is growing and developing, and it’s time to start solid foods for your baby to sleep well, be sure to read about starting solid baby food here.

I hope you find this helpful. As always, please post any questions or comments you may have.

Please share tips that have worked for  you and your baby. How do you get your baby to sleep?

To your holistic health,

Ask Dr. Linda