I can remember trying to put my son down after spending lots of time to get him to finally fall asleep. We had a whole system down.
First, we would bounce and sway him to get him to fall asleep. Once asleep, we would scale back the swaying a little bit every 30 seconds. Then, we would lay him down in his bassinet, put our hands on his chest and gently jiggle him as we counted to 11, Mississippi style.
1...Mississippi…2…Mississippi…3…Mississippi…. all the way to our magic number- 11! We would quietly creep out of the room and, most of the time, we were lucky to make it to the door before he woke up.
It was exhausting and so stressful! I couldn’t figure out why my tired baby refused to sleep! I knew he was cozy and his needs were met but, for some reason, he just wouldn’t stay asleep in his bassinet or crib for very long. If we were successful at putting him down, he would wake up crying about 30 minutes later.
Does this sound familiar?
Why does this happen?!
Well, now I know! When we are falling asleep, we are still aware of our environment. If your baby is falling asleep in your arms, nursing, at the bottle, rocking, bouncing or any other acrobats that you may be doing, they are aware of this. So, when baby reaches a lighter stage of sleep, she’s going to notice that her environment isn’t the same. That’s when she calls out to you. She’s startled because the last thing she remembered was rocking and swaying, but everything is different now! She needs you to come to her and recreate that same situation so that she can fall back asleep.
The best way to help your child stay asleep in their bassinet or crib, is to make sure that they are falling asleep in that space. Then, when they come to lighter stages of sleep, baby will just wake up a bit, look around, see that everything is still the same, and feel safe and comfortable to drift back to sleep!
I realize that the thought of having your baby fall asleep on their own may seem impossible! With a combination of correct wake windows, following sleepy cues and teaching independent sleep skills, your baby will be able to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own!