What’s your advice on getting rid of the dummy for a 7-month old? My…
Help! My 8-week-old baby sleeps at night but won’t nap during the day. He will sleep in my arms in the daytime but wakes when I put him down. At night he’ll sleep in the bassinet but won’t leave my arms while the sun is up.
If your baby sleeps at night but won’t nap during the day, what he needs are simple cues for rest. After you have established a predictable routine and familiar environment conducive to sleep, he will feel grounded enough to feel capable to self settle.
I like to remind clients that a holistic view of the whole day is important. The ideal way to help him learn cues for bed is to keep things the same and predictable at every sleep time. This consistency is particularly important in the first months, but remains a core factor throughout infancy.
Ensuring you don’t go over your baby’s ‘window of wake time’ is important too. 8-week-old babies are particularly affected by stimulation. And overtiredness the worst kind of stimulation. Overtiredness is often what causes babies to fight sleep.
An 8-week-old baby is a little way past the newborn stage and is almost a fully fledged infant. Your baby is beginning to notice the world around him beyond boob, sleep and the smell of mum. This transition is a prime time to give much more opportunities to self-settle.
What that looks like when providing opportunities to self-settle to an 8-week-old is very different to providing opportunities for older babies that you are ‘sleep training’. So while newborns are all about the boob to sleep (because they mostly eat and sleep and not much else), after 6 weeks that begins to shift dramatically as your baby wakes up to the world he now lives in.
How do you encourage self-soothing in an 8-week-old baby?
8 weeks is a great time to begin introducing healthy sleep habits for your baby. If your baby sleeps at night but won’t nap during the day, you are already halfway there! All you need to do is ensure that his sleep routine for daytime is the same as for night time.
There is no need to ‘train’ your baby per se. But there is a need to ensure you are:
When babies go to sleep on their own, in the same spot they fell asleep – without boob, dummies, rocking etc – they sleep deeper and longer.
If your baby sleeps at night but won’t nap during the day, apply these actions for both day and night sleep until it all becomes a single holistic routine. With consistency, the repeated pattern will establish itself as a habit for both you and your baby.
You will likely find that if you incorporate these 5 tips, after one or two naps in a dark room, your baby will work out how to self settle, comfortable in the knowledge you are there with him.
To help baby develop this sense of security, be present, listen to and hear your baby while he expresses himself. Observe the differences in his cries (communication). Allow him to show you how capable he is.
Babies gain confidence to show you just how capable they are when you give them predictable daytime routines: same sleep space as at night, limited wake times, and no aids to sleep (boob, dummy, rocking etc).
You can assist the process by calmly explaining to him, “Ok, sleepy time now, let’s get you down in your bed…” That kind of talk will help you as much as him. You’re vocalising the situation/plan, which keeps you calm, and he is calmed by the sound of your voice – the most familiar sound in the world to him, and thus the most soothing.
When you give babies these opportunities well before 4 months, many of them experience a lot less difficulty reaching cognitive milestones. Because they feel grounded. And they feel grounded because they know what’s happening next.
Read about my top 4 must-haves for all sleep times in my blog post, Baby Sleep Essentials: 4 Must Haves to Help Your Baby Sleep.
Infant sleep is major parenting puzzle. Inspired by Magda Gerber’s RIE approach, I’ve been advising families for over 20 years on how to put the pieces together. I’d love to help you too.