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In the early days of parenthood, you’ll try anything to get your baby to go to sleep and many of us discover that walking around rocking our babies works wonders. The only problem with this miracle sleeping method is that your baby won’t always be 8 pounds, pretty soon they’ll be a stone and then before you know it, you’ll have reached your baby’s first birthday party and still be rocking a 22 pound child to sleep. Obviously this poses potential problems for your back and is certainly something you’ll want to avoid if you fall pregnant again, as lifting and pregnancy do not go well together.
So what to do?
Well, you could try following a self-soothing method such as the Ferber method (known as ferberizing), but if you consider this method to be a little harsh (we’re not judging though), then you might prefer to try this gradual reducing method. It’s worth bearing in mind that every baby is different, so some of your babies might take to this really easily whilst others will let you know that they’re not happy with this new method. The key is perseverance.
1. At first, pick up your baby and start to rock him or her to sleep as you usually would. But as your baby is starting to look drowsy (heavy eyes, a couple of yawns or stares) then place him or her in the cot and pull up a chair next to it. The chances are that your baby will not be particularly pleased by this change in routine. Your babies will wonder why they’re not being allowed to go to sleep like they normally do.
2. Next in your chair, develop a new bedtime routine to replace the previous rocking method. Make sure you do the same thing every time so baby knows that it’s time for nap. We suggest you sing a lullaby, or if you don’t have a very pleasant voice, then you could put on the same lullaby from a CD such as Baby Mozart’s lullabies. The Winnie the Pooh lightshow is also a popular choice as it has a night-time sleep setting which babies loves to stare at.
3. If your baby is still complaining, then hold their hand or place your hand lightly on their chest. This gives them the reassurance that you’re still there with them as they’re drifting off. It’s easier than you think to extract your hand once baby is fully on the way to La-la-land.
4. Finally if your baby is really noisy, then try a medium-loud sssshushing sound over the top of their cries, which often helps make the baby drift off. As their cries reduce, reduce the volume of sssshushing until you have completely stopped.
5. Once your baby is asleep, quietly leave the room.
6. As the days go by, repeat this method in the exact same way everytime, but gradually reduce the amount of rocking you need to do before you get to the cot stage. Once you’re taking your baby straight to the cot, work on reducing the amount of time it takes before you leave the room. If your baby is not actually crying and is simply grumbling, try testing out leaving the room a little earlier and letting your baby soothe himself to sleep.
Of course there will be times when the method doesn’t work, for instance if your baby hasn’t had enough food to eat and is crying to let you know that she will not be going to sleep until she is fully satisfied.
The key to this method is to keep it as similar as possible for each sleep time and just to keep persisting. Even small improvements will work towards stopping the rocking completely.