Transitioning from co-sleeping to crib in a 9 month old, HELP!!!
(San Clemente, Ca, USA)
Question: We are transitioning our 9 month old daughter to her own crib from the arms reach cosleeper crib in our room. She was a great sleeper until she was 3 months old and has not been since. She tosses and turns all night long and cries in her sleep. She wakes up just about every hour and can not put herself back to sleep.
When she was in our room I could just reach my arm over in her crib and she would go back to sleep but now she will not take my arm in her crib, she wants me to pick her up and rock her. I DO NOT want to use the cry it out method. I need help figuring out what I can do to help teach her to put herself to sleep. It has been 5 days and it is not getting better....it is getting worse!!!
I look forward to hearing from you,
Heidi's Answer: Hi Jill, Luckily there a good no-cry methods to help her sleep. The restless sleep she's having (tossing and turning, crying in her sleep) is something that can have to do with her sleep onset, i.e. the way she goes down. What you can do here is:
- Good naps at regular times and a fixed night time bedtime with a good bedtime routine. If she goes down for the night rather late (say 8pm or later): shift that to earlier (around 7pm). You absolutely want to avoid her being overtired when going to bed.
- Make sure her late afternoons/early evenings are not too exciting: no TV, no loud music, not too wild activities.
- Avoid all food and drink stimulants (chocolate, sugary drinks or snacks, tea)
Then, use these two techniques to help her sleep without waking every hour:
1. You don't mention if she goes down awake at naps or night time bedtime. If she does that's fine, if not, do the following at those moments as well as when she wakes at night. Read this page on self soothing, it describes how to put your child down asleep at first, and then little by little put her down earlier and more awake. This takes a little while, as you go baby step by baby step, but is very efficient in the end.
For more details and specific techniques to transition from co-sleeping to crib, consult No-Tears Self Soothing.
Once she can self soothe, she will also be better at going back when awaking at night.
Also, when she wakes at night, always give her a few moments before you go to her. She might just fuss a bit or cry in her sleep, and only then find sleep again. You might even wake her by going to her. But do go to her as soon as you hear she's really awake and getting upset.
2. When she's been asleep for about 50 minutes, go to her without waking her. But place your hand on her belly, or stroke her forehead, or hold her by the shoulders, or something else that you know comforts her. You want to try and keep her asleep in this way, so she sleeps through the hourly awakening.
If she also wakes after an hour of napping during the day, do the above after 50 minutes as well. Or, if you can go out and have a long walk (longer than an hour) with her in the stroller or the baby sling, do that. Being on the move makes it easier to stay asleep and not startle at the hour. If you can do this often, this will also help her body get used to sleeping longer, and that will also help her do it herself when in the crib.
Good luck, let me know,