Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bedtime battles

When our Shira joined us, I was fully prepared for at least six months, and maybe more, of disrupted sleep. I planned to nurse on demand and didn't intend to do anything (such as introduce a pacifier) to push early night weaning. I was pleasantly surprised when our daughter started sleeping through the night when she was only two months. She also takes at least one long nap, or two shorter ones, during the day - we can certainly consider ourselves lucky.

I used to think that daytime naps "take away" from the time she will sleep at night, but discovered it not to be so at all. On the contrary, if she doesn't sleep at all during the day, she's exhausted and grumpy in the evening and has a more difficult time to fall asleep. Of course, I suppose that if she slept through long stretches of time (3-4 hours) during the day, we might end up with day/night confusion, but it never happened so far.

Dream feeding has been wonderful to help us get more sleep during the night, too. Before I started it, I always felt like I'm missing out on hours of sleep whenever I stayed up after Shira was in bed. Then, after I read up on dream feeding, I realized what a simple and wonderful solution it is: a couple of hours after her evening meal, I can quietly pick her up and nurse her without really waking her. It will fill her little tummy enough to last her until morning.

Dream feeding works for us because Shira nurses effectively and gets a full meal even without being awake, and doesn't just "nibble". She's so calm throughout the feeding that she doesn't even need to burp after it.

Shira can go to bed early in the evening (say, at 7 or 8), and I will gently give her a night-time meal right before I go to bed myself (around 11). Then I get her back to bed, and she keeps on sleeping. I don't talk to her, and make sure the room is quiet and dark. This way, she won't wake up as early as 5 or 6 in the morning to nurse, and we don't feel we need to rush and go to sleep the moment she does, and can have some quiet "adult time" in the evening, which is so refreshing for any couple.

However, we are still at a loss when it comes to finding a good system of going to sleep. We have an evening routine which includes a bath, cuddling and nursing, but even when Shira is obviously tired, it's difficult to get her to sleep or take a nap. Ideally, I would like her to be able to fall asleep on her own when she is tired, in a quiet, dark room with no distractions. But it rarely seems to happen. Sometimes she will fall asleep on my breast while nursing. Other times, she falls asleep in my arms while I'm rocking her. Often, she takes a nap in the car. Even when she goes to sleep in her bed, I must remain by her side, and the process involves lots of fussing and even crying.

She has always slept in her own bed and doesn't have a "bed aversion". I just wish I could do something to help our little one develop an ability to calm down and fall asleep on her own. Am I being unrealistic?


Persuaded said...

i am so sorry, but i'm probably not going to be of too much help here... i was never much good at getting my kids to go to sleep on their own. when i did foster care i used to joke: "give me a baby for a couple of weeks... any baby, and i can make them into a great eater and a terrible sleeper," lol. i think i am just too softhearted- i can never bear to hear them cry. i always pick up a crying baby.. and always either rocked my children to sleep or lay with them as they drifted off. it was usually a peaceful process with little or no upset or distress from the baby, but at times it did take up a great deal of the evening, lol.
i must say though, that i don't regret one moment of those hours of rocking. not one bit. those years went by so fast!

Sandy said...

For most babies, this is something that must be 'learned'. Some people allow this process to take it's natural s-l-o-w course. Which is fine and wonderful. (they will learn) However, after 3-6 months you can teach your baby to learn to fall asleep on their own by putting them in their crib fed, dry, tired, but awake. Usually they cry. You can go in and comfort them by stroking their back and assuring them that you love them. And return at increasingly longer intervals. It's a bit torturous, but in 2-3 nights my first born taught himself to sleep and sleep through the night. Thankfully, my second born son is very laid back and simply taught himself in short order without any help from me. But, really if your baby falls asleep in your arms or nursing (then lay her asleep in her crib) and can sleep through the night ... this is wonderful and okay. Enjoy it! Now my boys are 10 and 4. Blessings. Sandy

Mama Hen said...

You know, some might disagree with me, but I think all babies are just different. I have four. My first always wanted to be cuddled and rocked to sleep. He loved being with me. My other three just liked being nursed and then put in the bed. Or I would let them sleep and then nurse them when they woke up. (And its true, don't even worry about nighttime sleep until the are sleeping well during the day. ) I know this can be hard to take on hard days, but one day, and believe me it will happen, you will miss all those rocking times and nursing times, and wish you had done it MORE. :)!

my3sons said...

She may still be a bit young to fall asleep on her own. My 3 sons were nursed to sleep at that age. There will come a point when she won't fall asleep while nursing at bedtime and then will need to figure out how to fall asleep on her own. All 3 of mine did it at different ages. I did let them cry/fuss a bit without going in to their room. They would calm down faster knowing that I wasn't coming in. Also, we had a video monitor so I could watch them and see that they were ok. I'm not sure I would have done it that way if I couldn't see them. Once I didn't have it on and let my oldest son cry. When I went in to check on him his arm was stuck out through the crib side! I felt awful....But he was fine! Good luck. I'm glad you are getting some alone time with your husband! Katie

Ganeida said...

I don't know that you are being unrealistic but God made our children so they would *attach* to us & lots of little ones don't like separating at night ~ but you're talking to a confirmed co~sleeper here so what do I know about settling a child on their own?

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer said...

I don't know if you're being unrealistic, Anna, but in my family, baby #8 is 5 months old and I still have never found a good way to get her to sleep calmly other than having her on the breast until she sleeps.

I've read a lot of material about letting them cry it out in their beds, and while I think that that can be a good option, I just cannot do it. My babies can cry for an hour and more and I can't last that long. My brain cells begin dying a painful death when my babies are hysterical.

So I cuddle and nurse our little ones to sleep. Not ideal I'm sure, but it does work for us. And one day they are 2 years old and can lie down in their beds with a picture book and settle themselves in to sleep.

Geniève said...

Wow, I have never heard of Dream Feeding before. It sounds like a good idea, and it seems to be working well for you and Shira. Thank you for sharing. Have a blessed week :)

sara said...

I've read that it is difficult for a child before the age of four months to "self-sooth." That said, one strategy that may be helpful when Shira is ready is calming her to the point of extreme drowsiness but not sleep and then putting her down in that very relaxed state.

Anonymous said...


You seem to be doing everything to respond to Shira's needs and she has developed a lovely routine. It may take awhile for her to learn to self-soothe herself to sleep, especially since she nurses and is rocked.
However, I would mention one caveat, she will only want to snuggle for a little while. It won't last forever! Cherish the time you have alone with her before siblings come along and she grows older! Before you know it, she will be a busy toddler who won't have 'time' to stop for a snuggle!
But, this is an important skill that every baby can learn. I found that when I did the same things each time I put them to bed my children eventually learned to associate those motions with sleep and would go to sleep on their own.

Jen in OK

Mau said...

Had to laugh a little at your post. I'm what most would call an experienced mom, with 6 children and I'm going on nearly 16 years of sleep disruptions. Its part of parenthood and it rarely has bothered me. I find I end up adjusting my life and my schedule to that of the youngest child in the family. In the end they all grow up and the sleep deprivation I may have suffered is a long forgotten memory.

I'm sure you'll get some wonderful "advice" from someone that will be the magic solution to your problem, but in my experience it won't really matter. In the grander scheme, sleep is over-rated :-)

Rebecca said...

I also cuddled and fed my daughter before bedtime. After she was weaned she went to sleep on her own after a rock goodnight. There are many approaches to this, but they are little for a short time and I choose to cuddle and rock her until she was too big or didn't want it anymore. I have never regretted spending that time with her!!

Mrs. Rabe said...

Dear Mrs. T,

I don't usually comment though I do read regularly.

One thing we did with our children was to play quiet, calm music for them every time they went to bed. It became part of their routine and it would help them settle.

I hope this helps.


Liz said...

I have 2 girls with very different sleeping personalities. My oldest, who is now 3 1/2, has only been going to bed on her own for the past year. She just needed me or my husband there. We tried everything to get her to go to sleep on her own and she just couldn't until she was ready.

My younger daughter, who is turning two in 3 days, has never been able to fall asleep when anyone else is around. She never slept in my arms and never fell asleep while nursing and she doesn't sleep in the car on any trip shorter than 3 hours.

I think it depends on the child. A routine before bed helped my oldest fall asleep faster but she still needed us there. My little one couldn't care less, when we put her in her bed she goes to sleep.

I guess there is not much advice here just that all children are different. Some just sleep easy some don't.

Anonymous said...


I had 2 daughters. One, a champion eater and sleeper. The other was much more persnickety. The first, I could put down for a nap and she'd fall asleep quickly and deeply. She also nursed easily and deeply (and later ate just about anything we gave her). The second had this strange "mommy radar" that didn't let me get very far away from her even when she was asleep. Fortunately, I had a bassinet that could be removed from its base so I just removed it and carried it to wherever I was. My first still took naps when she was 4 years old. I gave up trying to give the 2nd one naps about the time she was a year old. She was always squirmy (we nickneamed her Wiggle-o Bigelow) and once, when she was 2 and still wiggling at midnight, my husband, in exasperation, took her for a ride in the car seat. It worked, but wasn't a habit we wanted to get into.

This is a long way to say that every child is different and Shira will learn to sleep on her own. Some kids will be fine on their own at 3 months and others will just need longer to learn. Rather than whether or not you're being unrealistic, I think you're putting too much pressure on yourself. You're a great mom! Trust your instincts.

Anonymous said...

Oops - that post was from Sally. Again with the "incorrect password" issues. I don't know what's going on.

- Sally

Lady M said...

Personally, I would give it a little more time. I guess it never bothered me that my little ones would fall asleep while nursing. I always looked at it that they were totally contented at that moment in time. Their tummies were full and momma was snuggling them. For a tiny baby does it get any better than that, lol!? Baby G is 6 months old and is starting to put himself to sleep on his own at night. I cannot guarantee that for a nap, but I am letting him lead on this one area. He knows whether he needs help going to sleep or not. He has the extra stimulation of the entertainment committee - big brother (8ys) and sister (10 ys) - sometimes that extra stimulation makes it too hard for him to go to sleep on his own.

Give it a little more time and it will come on its own - and over the next couple of months, I think you will see it becoming easier for her to do so on her own. Enjoy the snuggling all you can - it is gone far, far too fast. (I was afraid that I would not get those snuggles until I had grandchildren until Baby G came along!).

The Gastronaut said...

Hi Anna,

You're not being unrealistic, because you have basically described my son's early sleeping habits EXACTLY, and now at six months he happily drifts off in his cot on his own for his naps and at night. So it's possible!

After four exhausting months of rocking my precious boy to sleep I started doing pretty much what it sounds like you're doing. I sat in a chair beside his cot, and he'd cuddle my hand until he relaxed and drifted off. If he got all wound up I'd pick him up and cuddle him till he was calm, then lay him back down again.

Occasionally I'd leave the room for a minute or two and he quickly learned that if Mummy leaves she always comes back.

I eventually gave him his favourite toy to cuddle instead of my hand and that worked well, because a couple of weeks later he was happily cooing in his cot and snuggling up to his little rabbit before drifting off to sleep, and he's done that ever since.

All babies and mums are so different. I just wanted to share what worked for us in case it's helpful for you and Shira.

Sammy said...

It takes time. She's only 3 months old! You're not being unrealistic, but you're expecting a LOT very quickly. Their sleep habits change so much, especially in the first year. What's working now will most certainly be different a few months from now, and what's not working now will also be different. You've just got to be flexible.

Anonymous said...

This is just a thought: Perhaps she needs to "wind-down" by having a bit of exercise? You might try putting her on a blanket on the floor where she can kick and move about unrestrained for a while. Perhaps the exercise would help. As I said, this is just a thought. Or perhaps she is having such a great day that she just doesn't want it to end. :-)
Mrs. L.

MamaOlive said...

It is not unrealistic. Though I must say, the method has been different with each of my children. My oldest would NOT go to sleep in my arms, and just had to lay down and cry a few minutes before going to sleep. The next one would sleep on my lap or as I carried her around. #3 had to be rocked and sung to, and then would lay down to sleep. #4 would just play quietly until he dozed off. Etc.
As with everything else, you'll have to find Shira's way of doing things and work with it. Not to say she must be a dictator, but that if you work with her nature it will be easier for you both. And I'm sure you know that already. :-)

Kacie said...

Hi Anna!

Isn't it great that she's sleeping so long? My son is starting to sleep longer during the nights, but he does wake up for a 'dream feed.'

Right now, he's napping in his swing. This week, I've been extra-vigilant on making sure he gets proper naps. I too have found that it makes evenings much easier on everyone.

If you are familiar with the pediatrician Dr. Sears, he writes that oftentimes young babies need 'parented' to sleep. It's unrealistic for most of them to conk out on their own without at least a little help.

It's something they'll eventually grow out of.

Bethany Hudson said...

You know, we worried about this with Sophia when she was around Shira's age. A friend of ours recommended the "Cry It Out" method, which just wasn't going to fly with us. But, we tried a miny CIO--Just let her cry for five minutes... and it worked! She discovered that she could get her fingers to her mouth and calm herself in only a minute or two, and we never had to worry about her falling asleep or getting back to sleep (because she didn't sleep through the night until she was 9 months old, due to an overactive metabolism) on her own. It was such a blessing! Don't know if it'll work with Shira, but it's worth a try.

Shannon said...

I have four children,now ages 15,14,11,and 9.I breastfed all of them,and wouldn't change it for anything!At bedtime,I wanted my children to fall asleep on their own in a dark,quiet room,also.My second child had some trouble with this when he was around Shira's age.I cuddled him and put him down and told him goodnight and then left the room.I allowed him to fuss and cry for five to ten minutes and then went back in and cuddled him and calmed him down and then repeated the process.It only took two or three times of going in to calm him each night before he was asleep,and it only took two or three nights for him to realize that when I put him down,it was time to go to sleep.I know that some mothers don't like for their children to cry,and you may be one of them.If so,feel free to ignore this advice,but this is what worked for us.

Aelwyn said...

We are still working on this one with a three year old. Because of the style of our house (bedrooms not on the same floor), we all sleep in a large loft bedroom. Miriam sleeps in her own bed, but going to sleep is very difficult for her without one of us there. It is worse if she is overtired. We stick to the same routine every night. I do remember reading that many children need assistance falling to sleep until they are four years old. This was from Dr. Sears who is an attachment parent proponent. I don't agree with all his methods, but it made me realize that some things are just developmental.

Julia said...

I wish you all the best with that. I never could get my babies to sleep without nursing them down. I know people who have done it though, so it's possible. All the people I know who've done it have fed their babies with bottles of formula. I'm not sure if that makes a difference. I'm sure you'll get plenty of comments much more helpful than mine, lol.

Mrs. Lindblom said...

You will probably get a lot of different ideas from comments to this post. I have found this to be a touchy subject among mothers... just a little warning!

With my two children, we use SuperNanny's Controlled Crying Technique, and it has worked well for our family. It can be found on her website.
My daughter, who's 10 months, is nursing and still does not sleep all through the night. My son, however, began sleeping through the night at about 7-8 months.

Heather said...

Anna~ We had many of the issues that you talked about and there are many books that talk about sleep training. I used one called "Solve your child's sleep problems" by Dr. Richard Ferber. It does involve letting them cry for a while but it never leads them to think that they are abandoned. I used it with all three of mine and it worked. If you your like more information on it please contact me. I would be more than happy to send the book.
Good Luck

Chicks in the City said...

I think bedtime is one of the biggest challenges parents face with their wee ones. I know it was for me.

It sounds like you are doing everything right. From what I have read and experienced with my own babies it seems that some babies are easy sleepers, while others have more trouble.

I think that if you do the same routine every time then eventually Shira will begin to calm down and start to self-soothe and relax.

One of my "toughest sleepers" finally (!) responded well to a consistent, calm routine. It just took time.

My biggest mistake was second-guessing myself and not continuing with something because it didn't seem effective right away.

I love reading about you and Shira. You are such a sweet, gentle mom who obviously enjoys her baby!

Judy Jennings

Anonymous said...

"Am I being unrealistic?"

"Yes!" was my immediate reaction when I read your post. Lol. Your little Shira sounds exactly like my two dds (now aged 2 and 5), who were super sleepers (on and off) from an early age. But my 2yo still needs to fall asleep in my arms and my 5yo will often come and curl up on the sofa to be close to me when she drops off. In my view, it is NORMAL for a tiny baby or young child to need its mama in order to relax and drift off to sleep. What could be more comforting in a world full of bewilderment and challenges for little ones? Of course she wants you to remain by her side - you're the only one she really needs and trusts right now! I rocked my 1st dd to sleep, or lay by her side singing, until she was well over 3. It wasn't always convenient for me, but it was a time she cherished and needed and I have no regrets. It was just part of the mothering that *my* particular children needed and I saw it as a trade off for the stretches of unbroken sleep that I was getting at night.

You have a precious gift in a baby that sleeps for long periods. Please remember how unusual such babies are, and don't feel under pressure to overlook her need for your closeness just because society expects *good babies* to fall asleep in a darkened room on their own.

My advice to you would be to cherish this time of Shira needing your presence to relax and sleep. You are not suffering sleep deprivation and Shira sounds completely delightful. Before you know it, she'll have outgrown her need for this close contact and dependence on you. It's such a special time and she's still so tiny. There are ways of encouraging babies to fall asleep on their own if it ever really became too much for you. But it sounds like you're doing fine.

Ace said...

Hi Anna,

I think you are doing good with a bit of a routine (bath, nursing)...is it possible she is teething? Both of mine started at this age and it was only noticed at night when I tried to get them to sleep.

Also, maybe some light classical music to listen to so that there is a continuation for her. For instance, when you rock and nurse her and she is falling asleep and then abruptly put her down (not saying you do, this is what I did) it is kind of like an interruption for them. I found that if I started a quiet music cd or the audio Bible (or Torah in your case, hey, they are never too young) playing quietly in the background will be a great "white" noise to simmer down to.

One other thing I learned from another Mom, make sure it isn't the night clothes. Many baby night clothes are made with a flame retardant that bothers them. You could switch to 100 percent cotton with no flame retardant to see if that helps, I also use this type of bedding and it made a big difference.

Oh, you could just take her to bed, let her nurse laying next to you and put her in her bed when she is in a DEEP sleep. That is what I do for the first year with mine...only way I get sleep LOL.

Many Blessings :)

Mrs. Parunak said...

Your little Shira is still a baby, a very tiny baby. It's perfectly reasonable for her to have a hard time falling asleep when you aren't there. After all, she's so small and helpless that if you were to leave her behind accidentally (not that you really would, but babies don't have any way of knowing this), her life would be in danger. According to a study I read about in the book, Breastfeeding Made Simple, premature babies actually have a fight or flight response when they are out of physical contact from their mothers. Their heart rates go up and their levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) also go up. They are preparing to fight for survival. That's not exactly restful. As children grow, they learn that they are safe and that their parents are just in the next room, but this takes time. There's nothing wrong with nursing your baby to sleep, or rocking her to sleep, or holding her hand. Many parenting books contain dire warnings about such "sleep props," but truly as children grow, they need less and less. If Shira is having a hard time going to sleep without you, then take it as a chance to model for her the enduring presence of the Lord. He does not abandon His children to cry alone (the way a lot of parenting books suggest we do with our own children).

The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. –Psalm 34:15

The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. –Psalm 145:18,19

Anonymous said...

I wish I had a perfect answer, but every child is different. I nursed 5 babies from birth until 2 or so and always on demand. They never had a pacifier or any other security toy. It was always me. They would nurse until they fell asleep for naps and for bed. I would sling them at times, carry them in different positions during the day. I would nurse in a chair until they slept at noon, and then put them in their crib for their nap. Then, in the evenings, they would nurse until asleep, I would put them to bed, and like you, I would dream nurse them at 10 pm before I would go to bed. This would give me from 11 to 7 to sleep uninterrupted. It was a very nice time for me. At around 8 months old, my babies started sleeping without their mommy pacifier. They would nurse at 8 then rock to sleep, then in bed by 830 or 9 depending on growth spurts or so. By 1 they were eating at 6 PM, nursing at 7 and in bed for 8. I would sit in the same chair, but read to them until they fell asleep. Then from 8 till 9 I would clean up the kitchen. At 9 I would shower and am in bed by 10. My younger children are 13, 9, and 6 and I still read to them from 8 to 9 pm. But now, after dinner, from 6 to 7, they help me clean. From 7 to 8 they are bathing and cleaning up for bed. I now sit in the same rocking chair, but now I read in the hallway area between the two rooms. At 9, I am up to shower and by 10 in bed. I am 42 and it works for me. I always say prayers with them before I read. It is the same prayer I made up when my firstborn was born. I add stuff to it that's relative for their prayers and said it for them when they were young, and now they say it out loud with me. It works, my oldest will be 20 this year, and all 5 still say their prayers before bed. They speak to GOD more often than just at night, but we end our prayers with "please protect us from any and all spiders, snakes, and snapping turtles!!!!" My how they have grown.
Love and laughter, Theresa

Rebekah said...

Do you pronounce your babies name Sheera or Shyra?

Kate said...

Anna dear,

As a mother of a twenty-eight year old who no longer requires being rocked to sleep, I can honestly say I do not regret rocking him to sleep when he was young. I believed that he Needed the comfort of arms, and instead of making him clingy, it had the opposite effect. He was able to confidently separate from me when it was appropriate.

You know your own sweet baby...follow your heart. You won't regret it.

Anonymous said...

Oh I had never heard of "dream feeding" before, but I am glad you have explained the concept, I will definately try and see if it works with our little one when it comes along. As you so often wisely point out, not every suggestion will work with everybody - but there is certainly no harm in trying something that may benefit the family.

Summer said...

Dear Anna,

My baby is 6 months old now and she has become much better at going to sleep on her own. At first there was lots of fussing with me rocking the crib or rocking her in my arms, but now I do a few simple things and she often falls asleep on her own without a sound.

When I notice she is getting tired I try to relax her for a few minutes. I walk around slowly, letting her look out the window, or sing her a soft little song. Then as I am putting her in her sleeping bag in her cot I sing another little song, tell her I love her and then walk out.

Sometimes she will cry so I will go back in and rub her back and say shhh and she will settle down and go to sleep. Sometimes I have to go back in two or three times and do this, but as she gets older it is easier and easier for her to fall asleep on her own.

At three months of age though, babies are still learning how to fall asleep on their own. If this is your end goal, I would try to find ways to settle her in her bed, rather than in your arms. If she gets used to falling asleep in your arms or at your breast it will likely be harder for her to fall asleep on her own in her bed.

I hope all that makes sense. It has been fun to read your blog and see you having so many similar situations that I had with my baby since they are so close in age.


Anonymous said...

With my girls, I read them a story say prayers, sing them a song and then kiss them goodnight. They look forward to our nightly routine and they go to sleep. My youngest will sometimes talk to herself or play with her doll in her crib for a while but then she goes to sleep. Perhaps you could try a routine of your own unique design, maybe even get Daddy in on it. And afterwards just put her in her crib. If she cries you could hold her hand for a little bit
but keep her in the crib. Once she gets used to hand holding try just simply sitting next to her crib and so on until she's able to calm herself. Shira is only 3 months old you have plenty of time to work on this, you don't need to rush it unless you really feel the need too.

Melanie said...

Anna, I discovered a method that I used with all of my 3 children when my oldest was an infant. It's called E.A.S.Y. It's not a schedule; I'm not a schedule type person. It's just a method or a way of doing things.

The E stands for "Eat" (nursing), the A stands for "Awake" (baby stays awake for a few minutes afterward while you change her or cuddle or play with her), the S stands for "sleep" (baby does not fall asleep at the breast and learns to put herself to sleep. May take a while but don't be afraid to let her cry for small amounts of time. Trust your instincts on this one), and the Y stands for "Your time" (to rest, catch up on housework etc)

I hope this helps. It really doesn't answer your Q about how to get them to sleep on their own but after putting them to bed awake enough times hopefully she'll learn to fall asleep on her own.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna!

Apparantley I was a shocking sleeper when I was a baby...I would happily fall asleep when I was being held, or when someone was close by, or even when there was a lot of noise. The moment my mother would try and put me in my bed I would wake up!

The funny thing is, I havent changed a bit. I hate the dark, I hate silence, I hate being alone! I can now sleep alone in a room...but alone in the house? No way! Haha

Perhaps Shira is the same as me!
I have heard though, that things like soft music, or a ticking clock, can help soothe a baby when they are alone in their room...maybe that could help?

Lena Michalev said...

It sounds normal to me... I babysit children sometimes, and there is one boy, who I've been watching since he was 10 month old (and now he is 18 month)... and he hates going to sleep. It involves so much fussing and crying, and I stay with him until he falls asleep (otherwise, if he thinks I am leaving, he starts screaming).
Sometimes he goes to bed easily, but 70% of the time it's a challenge.

And all the other times he is a very happy baby, smiles, laughs, loves to cuddle, draw, and run around. So cute and joyous! Just not when it comes to bed time... :)

Tammy said...

Settling down for sleep is a skill she will have to learn. She might have to cry a little. It doesn't hurt at all! A little fussing actually helps her settle. Just do the evening routine you do, wrap her warm & secure, spend a quiet minute talking or singing softly, then lay her in her bed. We did this for all our babies (except the first), and they all quickly learned to go to sleep in their beds on their own. They can't learn to settle down when the parents are constantly interfering, lol!

Gombojav Tribe said...

I have never heard of the term "dream feeding." That's a new term, but I guess not a new concept. One of my babies once had a nursing strike. But, I got him to nurse while he was still sleeping.

I really would not worry about getting her to fall asleep on her own yet. I tried to teach my first child to do that. And I was successful--much to my dismay. When we were travelling or at church or someone else's home I needed her to fall asleep in my arms and she wouldn't. She wanted to be in her bed in the dark. And that just wasn't possible. I realized that it would have been much better to teach her to nurse to sleep or be rocked to sleep. If you don't travel or visit other's homes much, maybe it's OK. But, it turned out to not be the best thing for us. I never tried to teach my other kids to self-soothe like that.

Just a thought!

Angel said...

Just give it time....I know that is frustrating advice, but she will "grow into" getting herself to sleep. My oldest is 14 and I remeber thinking she would NEVER learn to sleep without the fussing, crying, Mama in the room process. Little Shira will probably be getting herself to sleep just fine by six months, eight months at the latest. And I love the idea of dream feeding. I wish I had known about it when I still had nursing babies.
You seem to be doing a wonderful job as a Mama :)

Linda said...

What did the trick for our little one was a bottle before bed..

We gave her baby formula, mixed with a little of the finest baby flour (to make a VERY VERY liquidy 'porridge') This made baby very sleeeeeeepy, and had her tummy full for longer than breastmilk..

Greetings from the netherlands!

Di said...

Hi Anna,

Just a thought - we used a pacifier on our little girl to help her fall asleep as she used to suck our little finger to help her get to sleep. This worked a treat and she would fall asleep almost straight away with no fussing etc. Then we started to wake up 5-7 times a night just to put the pacifier back in. Time to get rid! So when our little girl was just under 6 months old, we took away the pacifier and did controlled crying. After one night, she has settled herself to sleep and now sleeps for 11-12 hours each night. She also settles herself for naps during the day. I leave her awake in her cot and just leave the room. Sometimes she shouts, but this only lasts a minute or so, and actually seems to calm down once I leave the room!

Don't worry about forcing a bedtime routine, it will happen naturally. The sleep triggers we use are saying 'night night world' as we shut the curtains and then 'night night miss Ruth' just before I put her down. I started doing this when she was still using the pacifier.

I hope this helps!

Love Di x

Sarah said...

Hi Anna

I've not commented before, but I read your blog a lot. I have three young-ish children of my own, and I wanted to offer our solution to getting them to fall asleep on their own.
All of them had their own special 'bedtime distraction'. The most successful was a set of plastic elephants, designed to be strung across a pram, that we rigged to go across the cot. Without any discussion or fussing and certainly no interaction with the baby, we would put him to bed and string the elephants across the cot. Within a week or so, 'elephant time' came to signal 'wind-down-and-sleep' to our son. The elephants only ever came out at sleep time, so there was never any confusion about what they signified and even now (when they are 7, 6 and 4), announcing 'elephant time' has an effect!

It was particuarly effective with son #2, for whom we used to leave 10 minutes with the curtains open for him to look at the elephants, while I pottered about, put clothes away and was generally a quiet, soothing presence without ineraction; then closed the curtains for him to sleep. The elephants stayed there until the end of nap time, so sometimes if he woke early he'd look at the elephants for a bit too.

It's not an instant fix, in that it takes a week or so for the baby to get the idea, but it really worked for us, from about 3 months onwards. We did it earlier with baby #3, out of habit, although I'm not sure she got the idea any sooner!

How lucky you are to be able to enjoy Shira's early days so much.

Raven said...

She's pretty little to be able to go to sleep "on her own" yet. When they can remember that you still exist when they can't see you (not until about 6 months or so) it gets easier. :)


Heather said...

You just have to remember that she is a baby, and babies want to be close to their parents. She will fall asleep on her own when she is ready. Just remember that at this point she has spent more time in your tummy than in the outside world, so being close to you is where she is most comfortable, not in a dark room away from her mama. :-)

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are being unrealistic - there are many ways to train a baby to fall asleep without lots of help. You might be being a bit over-optimistic if you think there's a way to do it that is quick and easy for all of you, though! I have no children of my own (and was not an easy sleeper as a baby and toddler) so I won't pretend to have specific advice; nonetheless, the methods that involve remaining with the baby but not stimulating her sound appealing to me simply on the grounds that they seem fairly humane to both parties!

One thing that strikes me is that you don't actually know 100% that Shira _is_ sleeping all the way through the night. Given that parenting is tiring, I doubt that you or your husband have stayed up and watched her (or set a webcam!). So it may be that Shira already is able to wake up and fall asleep on her own, and that she is simply not falling asleep well when put to bed and needs help to learn to manage this.

Good luck!

Craft Stew said...

On the advise of our pediatrician, once we put our babies in bed at night, we didn't pick them up again. We allowed the children to cry themselves to sleep. However, every time they got themselves overly worked up, we would go in and rub their backs and talk to them until they calmed down again...we just didn't pick them up. We found, on average, that we wound up going in to calm the children 7 or 8 times the first night, 4 or 5 the second night and 1 time the third night. After that, the children put themselves to sleep. This was incredibly painful for us to do, but it really worked.

BTW, we also live in Israel, in Beit Shemesh.

Rachel said...

We got a little crib toy when our daughter was about 3 months old. It looks like an aquarium and attaches to the side of the crib. It plays soothing music and has a little light and little fish and plants move back and forth. It would put her right to sleep, and I'd peek in on her sleeping and it looked like she'd fallen asleep looking at it. But...that's not exactly "on her own", so it might not be what you're looking for, but it did help us. Now she's a year old and does fall asleep on her own, with a little nightlight.

Nurse Bee said...

You probably don't want to hear this, but she is most likely too young. Unless you want to deal with a crying baby alone in her crib for up to 30 minutes at a time or give her some kind of supplement to help her calm down, which I doubt you do.

The closer she gets to 6 months, the better it will get (unless she starts teething!!) Good luck!

Herding Grasshoppers said...


It sounds like things are going wonderfully for you and Shira :0)

About getting her to go to sleep on her own...

You are wise to make that a goal, especially as you look ahead to having more than one child someday.

With my own little ones I tried to keep them awake through a feeding so they didn't become accustomed to falling asleep while nursing and come to rely on nursing to fall asleep.

I haven't heard of "Dream Feeding", but I would make that an exception to the 'rule' :0) For her other feedings, try to keep her awake.

When it's time for her to go to bed or down for a nap go ahead and rock her and comfort her until she's almost asleep and then lay her down awake. Swaddling may also help.

And, I know this is controversial among your readers, but I'll say it anyway... go ahead and let her cry a little. It won't hurt her. Sometimes babies just need to let off a little steam that way.

I know, it's hard to listen to your baby cry, but ultimately it's good for her to learn (and yes, she can learn) to go to sleep on her own. It's not cruel to let her cry a bit.

It might even help (you) to watch the clock. Rock her, soothe her, lay her down awake, and check the clock. If she starts fussing, give her five minutes and then go in and put your hand on her and talk to her or sing to her for a minute. Don't pick her up, just let her know you're there. Pat her, or stroke her while you talk soothingly to her.

Then walk back out and give her another five minutes.

You're not "punishing" her, but you are the parent. You are older and wiser than she is, and you know she needs the rest.

That's my two cents :0)


Helen said...

Hello Anna.

I am a visitor from New Zealand - a young wife and mother to a beautiful little boy (18 months old) and expecting our second child in November. I just wanted to leave a few words of encouragement for you and tell you how much I enjoy your blog - it is a pleasure to read and I have been taking more time to strengthen and enjoy my divine role as wife, mother and homemaker since considering your thoughts on such matters. Blessings on you, your husband and your precious daughter.

I see from your "Pesach" post below that Shira is only three months old. At this age, I couldn't get Campbell (my son) to sleep without me either. He would fall asleep at the breast or in my arms, and not at all on his own. Campbell was never a good sleeper and it took us months to figure out that we had to teach him to put himself to sleep, instead of rocking/singing/holding/feeding him to get him to drift off. In our case, we got "tougher" at around seven months. We fed him, gave him a cuddle, then put him in his cot and told him, "Time for sleep." He would cry and fuss, so we would go back after five minutes and do the same thing - cuddle, tuck him in, "Time for sleep". Eventually we lengthened the gaps in between cuddles and he started settling himself. However, he was four months older than Shira at that point, and a little more independent.

I don't think you are being unrealistic in wanting to help Shira develop good sleeping habits early, but I would not worry about it too much before six months of age. This is when Campbell seemed to start realising he was a separate person from me, if that makes any sense. As Shira gets older, I think you will find the self-settling process much easier for you both. But at the moment, what a wonderful way for Shira to finish her day - safe and snug in mother's loving arms. =)

Tia said...

Some babies will settle better when they are swaddled firmly. Not tightly enough to stop movements but enough that they get feedback as to where they are. My daughter always slept better when her blanket was tucked in tight rather than when it was loose.

Another thing which helped us was a soft lambskin for the baby to lie on. We transferred it from cot to pushchair to wherever and it definitely helped her to feel secure. Some preemie hospital wards use them too as they are excellent for helping the baby to regulate their own temperature.

Another option can be to go against the dark quiet room - some children settle better in the midst of activity, and some prefer to have music playing gently.

My own personal advice, which you are of course at liberty to ignore, would be to just carry on as you are. You have a baby who will sleep 12 hours at night and take naps during the day. If you try too hard to push her into settling herself alone then you may find she gets stressed by that and starts fighting sleep altogether. At the moment it sounds as though you are her comfort, and that's probably what you want isn't it?


Anonymous said...

Yes, you're being unrealistic.
J/k.....but seriously, I always had an issue with this. Babies tend to fall asleep while nursing or eating from the bottle; otherwise they like to be rocked to sleep.
I usually had to sit by my kids' beds till late toddlerhood. Especially once I transitioned them from crib to big bed; they would just get out of the bed constantly and it was too much of a battle. I preferred to just lie beside them and rest or read till they fell asleep.
Probably not the best solution, and it did eat up a lot of my time, but that's what I did with most of my five kids (and no, it didn't matter that there were other kids sleeping with them in the same room; they wanted mom or dad).
Some parents let their kids fall asleep watching TV, seems to work pretty well, and yet others let their babies cry themselves to sleep for weeks or months till they learn nobody's coming...I don't have such a hard heart.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Rebekah, it's Sheera.

Becky K. said...

I always let them follow their own sleep pattern until they were six months old. Then we had a couple of bedtimes that were rough as they learned to get themselves to sleep but by the end of the week the battle was over and we had great sleepers.

I can't tell you why six months, except that by then it seemed they understood what they were doing and they could know what they were supposed to do.

Just what we did with our three children. Can't say whether it would work for you, or not.

Karen said...

I've found that some babies just really need to be rocked or nursed off to sleep every time. If they are full, changed, and cuddled well, you can TRY putting them in bed and just see if they are sleepy enough to fall asleep on their own. If it doesn't work, then resort back to nursing or rocking. But keep trying and eventually they do get the hang of it. At least that's how my girls are!