Q & A: What Parents Want to Know About Baby's Sleep
One of the things expectant parents worry about is if they'll ever get a good night's sleep again after their baby's born. Here are expert answers to the most common questions.
Q: My baby has been sleeping in our bed. When and how do I transition him to his crib?
A: Mindell says you should anticipate the future: "If you want the baby to be sleeping in his crib by a year, the best time to start making the change is at 3 months—before habits are firmly established," she says. That said, small steps are best. "Take a week—or several—and do the baby's bedtime ritual in his room," Mindell says. "Put him to sleep in his crib. When he wakes up at night, bring him into your bed." Then put him back in his crib. "Go slowly," Mindell adds. "It's a big transition." (Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against bed-sharing. To find out more, go to fitpregnancy.com/bedsharing. Also see "Sleep Close.")
Q: Could my constant worrying about getting my baby to sleep be affecting him?
A: "Definitely," Waldburger says. "Babies are sensitive to a mother's cues. If you're not sleeping, you're more tired and stressed and your baby picks up on those vibes."
Q: When can I put my baby down to sleep and go have a glass of wine?
A: Waldburger and other experts suggest that when he's about 5 months old, you can experiment with letting your baby cry a bit at night. (That does not mean letting him cry it out for hours.) Try starting with five minutes, Waldburger suggests; if that's too hard to take, pick him up after three minutes.
"It sounds cruel not to pick up a crying baby," Waldburger adds, "but we find that teaching babies how to calm themselves is really kinder in the long run. We suggest a long wind-down period with lots of cuddles and laughs, comforting with your voice and finally letting the baby soothe himself to sleep."
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