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Getting Baby to Sleep

Dear Debi,
I have a 7-month-old son who wakes up during the night to drink a bottle. I have tried many ways to get him to sleep through the night, but nothing seems to work. Can you help?
Lupe Hernandez
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Talk with your pediatrician about your baby's nutritional needs
  • Create a regular sleep routine
  • Place your baby in his crib awake
  • Do not pick up your baby or talk to him if he awakens during the night
  • Provide a transitional object to place in your toddler's crib
  • Be patient & consistent
Expert Advice
Ann Corwin, Ph.D.
Ann Corwin, Ph.D.
Child development specialist
The needs of an infant, in terms of sleep, are all dictated by their nutritional needs, meaning they need to wake up to eat. Every 2 to 3 hours, babies need to wake up because their tummies are small. They need to fill their tummies up, and then in 2 or 3 hours, they'll wake up again because they're telling you, "I'm hungry." So they're going to sleep according to what their body really needs. You don't want to think about your newborn sleeping through the night. They're not supposed to.

How you might know that maybe your baby can sleep a little bit longer is by keeping in close contact with your pediatrician because your pediatrician will tell you if he or she is gaining enough weight and that your baby is developing normally. So during the first 3 months of life or so, make sure that you are encouraging and welcoming the fact that your infant is waking up. I know you're tired as a parent, of course, but it's exactly what your household needs to look like. Babies need to wake up to eat.

How long it takes for a baby to adjust to sleeping through the night will vary depending on the baby and the baby's age. You as a parent need to have patience and stay committed. Sleep patterns do not change immediately.

Before they can fall asleep at night, babies - as well as adults - need to slow down their brain activity. In order to do this, they need some quiet time before bed. Turn down the lights and turn off the television or radio. Keep your voice low. Perhaps read to them in a soft voice.

It's very important to keep a routine at bedtime. As much as possible, put the baby to bed at the same time each night. Keep feeding times regular. Babies and children respond to routines - knowing that one thing follows another. Routines should be followed every night before bedtime. Read to your child or pray or say final words - the same thing every night ("Sleep tight," etc.).

Transitional objects definitely help. Transitional items should be introduced to the baby early - before he or she is able to sleep through the night. Whether it's a special stuffed animal, blanket or pacifier (check with your pediatrician about a pacifier). Hold the item while you feed the baby. Keep it nearby so that the baby will associate that item with you. By three or four months, most babies will be able to roll over and grasp the item. When they are able to do this, place the item in the babies crib. The baby will associate this item with the mother or father. It helps to make the baby feel secure.
Child Care Provider Comments
Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston
Mother of two
We had no strategies for getting my son to sleep through the night. It was terrible. We were desperate. We tried letting him cry which would force my other son, Andrew, into my room since the two kids share a bedroom. Mackenney would continually cry, and then I would give up. It is hard to listen to a baby cry for 5 minutes let alone 40 minutes. When he cries, the whole family wakes up.

Since Ann Corwin visited, I have not had any problems. A couple of nights, my son woke up and I gave him water and he went back to sleep. Now, he sleeps through the night. The nanny is on board, too and follows the routine. I couldn't believe it!
Silvia Fischer
Silvia Fischer
Grandmother of 20-month-old
I know that some people don't like the pacifier, but we do use a pacifier with my grandson. He used to have ear aches that kept him up at night. Some kids have allergies that wake them up. You should check with your doctor. Also, you have to make sure babies get into a pattern.
Consuelo Ducoing
Consuelo Ducoing
Child care provider for 14 years
As a caregiver, I talk to the parents to learn the kid's sleep routine. I would want to know if the child has a cold or isn't feeling well or is stressed. The more consistent the routine is in the day, the more the baby will sleep throughout the night or nap time. If he does wake up, rub his back and keep the room dark with a little light. If the baby has special blankets, make sure that they are there. Make sure there are smooth transitions from bath to bedtime. Reading a book before bedtime helps. Make it a routine, so the child knows what is coming up next.

More Answers to Your Questions About Sleep Featured Activity:
More Answers to Your Questions About Sleep
Getting Baby to Sleep Featured Video:
Getting Baby to Sleep
Topic: Health & Safety
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