Today, I have a question from Nadia. She writes, "I've been working on the Sleep Sense Program for about a week now, but I'm having a really hard time keeping my baby awake through her bottle at the bedtime routine. What can I do?"
Well, that's a great question. Really, when you're working on the Sleep Sense Program, the number one rule is to make sure that you keep your baby wide awake through any feeds. That's the breast or the bottle.
Nine times out of 10, the problem is all around the sleep prop of getting to sleep on a bottle or a breast. You're right, Nadia, in expressing some concern around that because if you don't break the connection she has between the bottle and sleep, it'll make the whole process harder.
It will cause night wake ups because when she wakes up in the night, she'll still have this idea that she needs a bottle in order to get back to sleep at night. A few things you can try.
Number one would be move the bottle up in the bedtime routine. Most people have the feed as the last step. That can be really tricky.
Especially, if she's not napping great yet, then she could be really, really fatigued by bedtime. By the time, she's had a bath, and you've got jammies on, and you've read some stories, and then you're going into a feed, she might be way too fatigued to even attempt to stay awake at the bottle.
Then you're really fighting an uphill battle where you're tickling and talking to her and trying to keep her awake, and she's so tired she really can't even help you out any. I would suggest you can even move it up to before the bath.
Go to the feed, then the bath and the jammies and the stories, and then bed. That will really help break any connection that she has that the bottle has anything to do with sleep.
If that seems like a bit too far up in the routine, then move it to right after bath. That can really help, too, because children tend to be a little stimulated from the bath. Most children really like their bath, so she'll be a little more awake when you get to the feed.
Then you can move into the next steps. The good news is the better naps start going, the less fatigued she'll be by bedtime, so that's something to look forward to.
The more the separation between the bottle and sleep develops, the less likely she will be to even try to fall asleep at the bottle. You'll find in a month or so, even if she is really tired, she won't use the bottle.
There won't be a connection there anymore. She'll happily have her feed, and then put herself to sleep just fine when she gets to the crib.
This week's question is from a recent client. She writes:
"My in-laws are coming to visit for a week and are under the impression that babies will sleep through anything and that they just need to "get used to" the noise. What are your thoughts on this issue?"
On some level, we can get used to certain environmental noises when we sleep. If you live in a noisy neighborhood, you’re going to get used to a bit of baseline noise. However, we’re not in comas when we’re asleep, and neither are babies so whatever can potentially wake you up is probably going to wake your baby as well.
So, I always tell parents to be respectful that someone is sleeping and to keep in mind what kinds of things you would or would not do if your spouse were taking a nap. For example, you’re not going to vacuum right beside them. Just be mindful that there’s someone in the house that’s sleeping and everyone needs to be respectful of that.
If you’re too quiet and tiptoeing around the house during naps, then any kind of little disturbance from dead quiet is probably going to wake up your baby, such as the telephone ringing or the dog barking. Therefore, you don’t want to be too, too quiet.
It can be difficult sometimes to convince in-laws or friends and family members that the things you’re doing for your baby is what’s in the best interest of your family. A lot of people write in and say they get tons of flack from their friends because they say they have to be home for nap time or can’t go out past seven because they’ve got to get their baby to bed. I understand where those people are coming from; they probably want you to stay out and have a good time. Once they see that your child is well rested and happy when they are awake, most friends and family members come around.
Another thing I hear a lot about is the issue of light sleepers. A lot of new clients worry that their child is such a light sleeper and with the tiniest noise, they’ll wake up. That is common when a child is, what I consider tricked into sleep. (For example, if you rock a baby to sleep and then try to carefully transfer him to his crib.)
What will happen then is that if there is a bit of environmental noise, they’ll probably wake up with a start and realize they’re not in your arms anymore. Often they wake up crying right off the bat because they’re no longer where they were when they fell asleep. For anyone, that would be fairly alarming, so those types of situations sort of create this hair trigger; with the tiniest noise and your baby’s going to fly awake and probably start crying.
Once a child learns their own skills for getting to sleep, they’ll become fairly deep and successful sleepers. If, for example an ambulance goes by in the night, I might wakeup and and acknowledge that it’s an ambulance but I’ll go right back to sleep. I wouldn’t need anyone to come to me or do anything for me. I’ll know that it woke me up but I will have the skills to get myself back to sleep. When a baby has those same skills, and your loud friend is laughing or telling a story that wakes them, they’ll acknowledge that they heard a noise and they’ll go back to sleep. You’ll probably find that your once super light sleeper becomes a fairly deep sleeper, within reason, and capable of getting themselves back to sleep should they be wakened by something.
Tammy, I agree that you do need to ask your in-laws to be mindful that someone’s sleeping and that they help keep the noise level to a minimum.
NOW TELL ME......
Is your baby a light sleeper?
I would love to hear your comments below!
Jo Anna Inks
I help tired, frustrated parents get their babies sleeping through the night and napping well so everyone in the family can get the rest they so desperately need!