No-Cry Sleep Solution: Sleep Solutions for 0-4 months

Pantley goes over several ideas that may be able to help your child sleep better. She suggests you look over all these ideas and decide what will work best for you and baby. She also suggests you look over the section for older babies since this has a bunch of useful information in it too.

**This section is organized slightly different than her book. I thought it flowed better this way.

Read, Learn, and Beware of Bad Advice
Knowledge is power (as the saying goes). Pantley mentions that "the more knowledge you have the less likely that other people will make you doubt your parenting skills." When you are knowledgeable, you will be able to better choose what parenting
methods fit your family and be able to stand up for them when others try to push you to do one thing or another.
  • The biology of newborn sleep - Babies have to eat often day and night (hopefully you already knew this before you had a baby or you will be in for one big surprise!). Their schedule is also unpredictable for quite a while.
  • Sleeping Through the Night - The scientific definition of sleeping through the night for a newborn is five hours. That's right. Only five hours. I like a bit more than that.
Where to sleep
Pantley mentions that a baby that always sleeps in your arms will always want to do this and not sleep any other way. Since this is not possible for most moms because they have many things they have to do on a daily basis, she suggests you "strike a balance between instinct and practicality" and put your baby to sleep in his bed as much as possible while continuing to hold him to sleep every so often. (p. 71). This idea is important for co-sleeping parents also. Try to teach your child that he can sleep by himself and next to you by having him sleep by himself sometimes.

Falling Asleep at the Breast of Bottle
Babies that only fall asleep while sucking often cannot fall asleep or stay asleep any other way (see sleep props/associations). Pantley suggests that to help prevent this from happening, you "sometimes let your newborn baby suck until she is sleep, but not totally asleep. As often as you can, remove the breast, bottle or pacifier and let her finish falling asleep without something in her mouth" (p. 73). Sometimes baby will resist when you do this so she suggests offering the breast, bottle or pacifier again and start the process again and do as many times as necessary. Of course doing this requires you to keep your long term goals in mind because it would be a lot easier to just give in and let baby fall completely asleep while sucking. She says that if you do this enough that baby will eventually learn to fall asleep without sucking on something.

The next step is to have baby put in his crib when he is sleepy and not asleep. If baby doesn't settle easily when you do this, she suggests you calm baby however you normally do and then try to start the process over again in either a few minutes or for his next nap. This is much easier to do before baby has ingrained habits that don't include sleeping in his bed.

*On a side note, finger and thumb sucking is different from sucking on a bottle, breast, or pacifier to fall asleep since baby can reinsert his thumb or fingers by himself.

Hunger vs Sleeping Noises
Babies can be quite noisy sleepers. They can also be pretty noisy as they transition through sleep phases. If you respond to noises that are sleeping noises rather than hunger sounds you may actually get your child into the habit of waking more frequently. The key here is to not rush in! Pantley mentions that this is especially important in the long run if you are co-sleeping. She says that while feeding at every brief awakening may not be bothersome at first, "it is a very rare mother who will still be enjoying it ten or twelve months later." (p.78)

"Listen carefully when our baby makes night noises:
If she is making sleeping noises--let her sleep.
If she really is waking up--tend to her quickly." (p.76)

When your child wakes and makes hunger sounds, feeding her as soon as possible will help her not wake fully so that she can go to sleep more quickly after the feeding.

Distinguishing Night from Day
Pantley suggests some tips to help baby distinguish nighttime from daytime sleep so that she will sleep longer periods at night. Mainly she says to keep the night environment calm and dark and the daytime environment light and slightly noisy. You can do this by not changing night time diapers unless necessary, feeding quickly at night to prevent baby from fully waking, having a pre-bedtime routine that differs from the pre-nap routine and not letting baby nap more than 2-3 hours during the day. See my post on day/night confusion for additional tips.

Watch for signs of tiredness
Watch for baby's sleep cues and put him to sleep as soon as he gets tired. An overtired baby gets overstimulated and has a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. He is also often cranky. Try to put your baby to bed right when he gets tired, but not overtired.

Make your baby comfortable
Every baby is different so what makes your baby comfortable may not be he same as another baby. Some of Pantley's suggestions include swaddling, having baby sleep in a bassinet or small cradle rather than a large crib, having baby sleep in a curled position in a car seat, infant seat or stroller, using a sound machine, putting something that smells like you by baby while he sleeps and making baby's sleeping spot warm (use non-cotton sheets or warm up his bed prior to sleep by using a heating pad or water bottle--make sure it is only warm and not hot).

Make yourself comfortable
Since you'll be waking at night to feed baby for some time, try to make it as comfortable as possible for yourself.

First off, make the place you feed baby as comfortable as possible. If you feed baby in a chair, get a comfortable one with a foot stool. A nursing pillow can be really helpful, especially for newborns. I like to also use a small pillow or blanket behind my lower back and a neck pillow. If you feed baby in bed, use pillows to support yourself and "let baby fold himself around you" rather than "arching your back to bring breast to baby" (p.86). Try to keep things nearby that you might need like a drink of water, a burp cloth, a book, a light etc.

If you bottle feed, make sure all your supplies are easily accessible. You can get a bottle warmer to make things quicker and easier at night.

If you co-sleep, make sure the bed is plenty big for everyone.

Bedtime feed
Try to make the feeding at bedtime a full feed so baby doesn't wake up shortly after to finish up the feed. You may need to rouse baby half way through a feed to ensure he takes a full feed.

Restful feeding sessions
Since most people don't have time to nap when baby naps (although if you do, do this!), try to make feeding time a restful time since you'll spend so much time doing this the first few months. Read a book, look at baby, watch TV, relax your body etc. Do whatever is restful to you.

For the first few months forget about the laundry that needs to be done (not to mention everything else in your house staring at you and asking to be cleaned!) and the friends you haven't seen for months and take things easy for a while. Things will get easier to do soon, but for right now, the most important thing to do is take care of yourself and baby. Other things can wait for a while. Relax, take a deep breath and slow down. And don't forget to accept and even ask for help!

Realistic Expectations
Realize that your baby will be waking to eat at night for some time. Try to accept this fact and relax about night feedings. Feeling frustrated about or constantly wishing for it to be another way will just make things harder. This time will be over before you know it. Really. It will be.

Pantley mentions that "there are no magic answers and no shortcuts to sleep maturity." (p. 88) While I agree that you can't make your child sleep through the night before he is ready, I certainly think there are many things you can do to help him do so when he is ready. First off, she mentions some ways, listed above, to help your child distinguish night from day. This usually helps a baby sleep longer at night. Next off, encouraging full feeds often during the day followed by some wake time often helps baby sleep longer at night. And then there's about a million things you can do that discourage long periods of sleep at night once baby is able to do so. Pantley has mentioned some of these things above and others can be found throughout this blog.

Related Posts:
No-Cry Sleep Solution: Sleep Solutions for Older Babies (4 months to 2 years)
No-Cry Sleep Solution - Ten Steps to Helping Your Baby Sleep All Night

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