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At around 8 or 9 months of age, the baby can start sleeping in the crib, without having to be held to sleep. However, to achieve this goal, it is necessary to get the baby used to sleeping that way, taking one step at a time, because it is not suddenly that the child will learn to sleep alone, without being surprised and without crying.
These steps can be followed one every week, but there are babies that need more time to get used to, so the ideal thing is for parents to see when they feel safe to move on to the next step. There's no need to hit all the steps in a month, but it's important to be consistent and not go back to square one.
6 steps to teach your baby to sleep alone in the crib
Here are 6 steps you can take to teach your baby to sleep alone:
1. Respect the sleep routine
The first step is to respect the sleep routine, creating habits that should always be maintained at the same time, daily, for at least 10 days. For example: The baby can have a bath at 7:30 pm, dinner at 8 pm, breastfeed or take a bottle at 10 pm, then the father or mother can go to the room with him, keeping a low light, of presence, in a calm and peaceful environment, which favors sleep and changing diapers and putting on pajamas.
You must be very calm and centered and talk to the baby always softly so that he is not over stimulated and becomes more sleepy. If the baby is used to being held, you can initially follow this routine and put the baby to sleep on your lap.
2. Placing the baby in the crib
After the bedtime routine, instead of holding the baby on your lap for him to sleep, you should put the baby in the crib and stay next to him, looking at him, singing and rocking the baby so that he stay calm and quiet. You can even put a small pillow or stuffed animal to sleep with the baby.
It is important to resist and not hold the baby if he starts to grumble and cry, but if he cries very intensely for more than 1 minute, you can rethink if it is time for him to sleep alone or if he is going to try later. If this is your option, keep the sleep routine so that he is always used to it, so he will feel safer in the room and go to sleep faster.
3. Consoling him if he cries, but without taking him out of the crib
If the baby is just mumbling and doesn't cry for more than 1 minute, you can try to resist not picking him up, but you should stay very close, patting his back or head, saying 'xiiiiii', for example.Thus, the child can calm down and can feel safe and stop crying. However, it is not yet time to leave the room and you should reach this step in approximately 2 weeks.
4. Stepping away slowly
If you no longer need to hold the baby in your arms and if he is already calming down in the crib, just with his presence around, you can now proceed to the 4th step, which consists of moving away little by little. Each day you should move further away from the crib, but that doesn't mean that you will put the baby to sleep in this 4th step, but that each day you will carry out steps 1 to 4.
You can sit on the breastfeeding armchair, on the bed next to you or even sit on the floor. The important thing is that the baby notices his presence still in the room and if he raises his head he will find you looking at him, and ready to help him if necessary. So the child learns to have more confidence and feels safer to sleep without the lap.
5. Show security and firmness
With the 4th step, the baby will realize that you are close, but far from his touch and in the 5th step, it is important that he realizes that you are there ready to comfort him, but that you will not catch him in the I hold him whenever he grumbles or threatens to cry. So, if he still starts to grumble in the crib, still distant, you can very calmly just say 'siiiiii' and talk to him very quietly and calmly so that he feels safe.
6. Stay in the room until he sleeps
Initially you should stay in the room until the baby sleeps, making this a routine that should be followed for a few weeks. Gradually you should move away and one day you should be 3 steps away, the next 6 steps until you can be leaning against the baby's room door. After he sleeps, you can leave the room, quietly so he doesn't wake up.
You should not leave the room suddenly, put the baby in the crib and turn your back to him or not try to comfort the baby when he cries and shows that he needs attention.Babies don't know how to talk and their biggest form of communication is crying and that's why when the child cries and no one answers, he tends to be more insecure and scaring, making him cry even more.
So if you can't do these steps each week, you don't have to feel defeated or angry with your baby. Every child develops differently and sometimes what works for one may not work for another. There are babies who really like being held and if their parents don't see a problem with holding the child on their lap, there's no reason to try this separation if everyone is happy.
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