How to teach an infant to sleep in a crib?

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Infant sleep is one of those issues which every parent has to work out on their own. From birth we can teach our child to fall asleep in its own bed or gradually wean it from sleeping with us.

Sleep is a scarce commodity for young parents. In the first months of a baby’s life it is interrupted by getting up at night for feeding, changing and soothing. Very often, to improve nighttime functioning, the baby sleeps with its parents. Restless infants are rocked in their arms until they fall asleep. When the time comes for the child to learn to fall asleep in its own bed, it starts to rebel. How to painlessly teach a baby to sleep in its own bed?

Independent sleep for the baby

There is nothing to prevent your child from falling asleep in its own crib from the very beginning. This will involve getting up at night to feed the baby, which is not necessary in the case of breastfeeding and co-sleeping

However, if – at least at the beginning – we want to sleep together with the child, a good moment for learning independent sleep is the 12th week of life. This is when the natural rhythm of waking and sleeping in a small human being is formed. After 12 weeks, the baby’s sleep becomes more regular and adapts to the daily rhythm. The child also begins to develop habits and loudly manifests dissatisfaction caused by any changes

Ferber method, or 3-5-7

An effective, but controversial in today’s world method of learning to fall asleep is the Ferber method, otherwise known as the 3-5-7 method. The mechanism of action is as follows: we put the toddler to bed and leave the room for 3 minutes. We stay outside the door, even if the child is crying a lot. After the indicated time, we return to the room and calm the child, and then again leave the room – this time for 5 minutes. We repeat the whole process again, leaving the child alone for 7 minutes

The Ferber method is quite effective, because the child gradually gets used to the uncomfortable situation. However, psychologists indicate that the 3-5-7 method may end up doing more harm than good. The child will eventually begin to fall asleep on his own, but will lose trust in us. This can affect his mental health in the future.

Teaching your child to sleep in the same bed with its parents

Every child is different, so it’s hard to talk about universal methods for successfully teaching your child to fall asleep on his own. Some children at some point find that they prefer to sleep in their own room. However, this is rare and we cannot expect that we will manage to go through this process painlessly

In order to successfully teach an infant to sleep independently, it is worth observing several principles:

  • set the rhythm of the day and stick to it consistently. Evening rituals should be calming. The child should be put to sleep at the same time every day;
  • prepare the room well for sleeping. Make the room darker, quieter, airier, install subtle lights that create a sense of security;
  • care for your baby patiently. Learning to fall asleep on your own can be time-consuming and irritating. To support your baby, you can sit by the crib and wait for him to fall asleep. You can also think about a cuddly toy to help your baby fall asleep. For some babies, humming toys work well to help them fall asleep.

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Main photo: Alicia/

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