Attachment Parenting

Putting baby to sleep "drowsy but awake"

Hi!  I usually post over on EFF but thought this was a little more relevant here :)  I hope you don't mind...

DD (6 1/2 months) currently nurses to sleep, and I don't put her down until she's dead asleep.  I'd like to start being able to put her down drowsy but awake, like NCSS and Dr. Sears suggest, but every time I've done this, her head pops up, eyes open, and she's AWAKE.  No amount of patting/stroking/shhhing will get her to sleep.  

Is there a no-cry method I can use to teach her to fall asleep on her own?  If not, and I continue nursing her down, will she ever be able to fall asleep on her own?   

Thanks ladies :) 

Re: Putting baby to sleep "drowsy but awake"

  • Will she EVER fall asleep on her own. Sure. I promise you will not have to nurse her when she's at college. She will learn to fall asleep on her own at some point before then Stick out tongue

    With my DD, drowsy but awake would never work. No way, no how, not possible. And I did try. Around 9mo she stopped nursing to sleep, but we still had to rock her to sleep - but it was nice that DH could do bedtime. (She stopped on her own - I'd nurse, she'd be done nursing and just wasn't asleep. So I handed her off to DH to rock)

    It wasn't something that was a big deal to me personally as I believe that helping babies get to sleep is more normal than expecting them to sleep on their own. So we didn't really make a huge effort to do it though we had tried a couple times I wasn't willing to let her cry so those efforts didn't last long. And even when DD was sleeping in her big girl bed (from 16mo on) we read her stories and then sang to her or sat with her until she fell asleep. It wasn't until she was over 2 that we started leaving her room while she was awake... and I guess she was finally big enough that it was ok with her and she just fell asleep without a fuss. And she's done it pretty easily ever since.

    So yes, she will be able to fall asleep on her own even if you continue to nurse her and/or rock her to sleep even for another year or more.

    - Jena
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  • Drowsy but awake is an urban myth. At least it is in my house.

    We've tried & tried & it doesn't work. One day I'm sure it will, but not now. What has worked is that at night I nurse to him while I read aloud. I started doing the Pantley Pull Off when he was about 4.5-5 months old during this to start breaking the suck to sleep association. It worked really well. Now he'll nurse awhile, pull off, & just lie there while I keep reading, eventually falling asleep.

    Anytime we have tried he just ends up getting worked up. He won't cry, he just gets out of sleep mode & into play mode. If I keep at it too long he'll get upset, & he's a tension increaser, so all bets are off. 

    NCSS is a big help if you're worried about associations interrupting sleep. What we've done is just have a variety of ways to get Ari to sleep - rocking, wearing, reading while nursing, etc., that way he's not too dependent on one thing.

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  • no real answer for you since it totally depends on the baby... my DD was the same as yours.  i didnt mind nursing to sleep and during the night till about 8 months but then it started getting worse and worse instead of better.  by 11.5 months i was going nuts with exhaustion, even tho DD was totally fine... no other gentle methods were helping so we resorted to try CIO and see what happened (i wouldnt let it go for long).  she only cried 6 mins and then fussed on/off for a few mins after that.  since then bedtime is cozy and she's great about it.  i still nurse her mostly to sleep, then rock and sing her a song, then put her right down and she puts herself to sleep!  it has been an amazing change, and she mostly sttn now too, not totally but mostly.  so for us, i dont think there was an answer with zero crying, but we lucked out and finally all get some sleep at last.  :)   i was afraid of CIO but i think DD was ready to soothe herself and we just weren't giving her a chance.
  • I always try and put DD down awake. Sometimes she's fallen asleep on my breast so I'm not about to wake her up.

    We have a bedtime routine where I swaddle her, rock her whilst I close her curtains and pull back her sheets etc and then when she's drowsy I put her down, I tuck her in firmly and put on some music, or a fan.

    Sometimes she needs me to rub her chest whilst she settles. 

    I stay in her room for a bit while she settles then wonder away.

    If she fusses I go back and pat her chest and shush her. If she cries I pick her up, soothe her and put her back down. 

    I got my ideas form the baby whisperer and it works for us. 

    Now I know that if she's in her cot and crying it's either hunger or wind. 

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    Elizabeth 5yrs old Jane 3yrs old
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  • imageKateLouise:

    I always try and put DD down awake. Sometimes she's fallen asleep on my breast so I'm not about to wake her up.

    We have a bedtime routine where I swaddle her, rock her whilst I close her curtains and pull back her sheets etc and then when she's drowsy I put her down, I tuck her in firmly and put on some music, or a fan.

    Sometimes she needs me to rub her chest whilst she settles. 

    I stay in her room for a bit while she settles then wonder away.

    If she fusses I go back and pat her chest and shush her. If she cries I pick her up, soothe her and put her back down. 

    I got my ideas form the baby whisperer and it works for us. 

    Now I know that if she's in her cot and crying it's either hunger or wind. 

    Do you have your LO swaddled?  I want to do this with DS, but since he is swaddled, I'm worried he can't put himself back to sleep.  I read Baby Whisperer and she said something about babies getting overstimulated if done too early.  I don't know how to tell if DS is getting overstimulated by this.  But I am encouraged to try since your LO is a lot younger than DS.
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  • My daughter couldn't be put down drowsy but awake until she was 10.5 months.  I would just try every 2 weeks to leave her room before she was asleep, starting around 7 months.  When she was ready to do it, it was easy and she didn't get upset.

    My son could fall asleep on his own as a newborn, but then stopped being able to do it around 3 months.  He's 9.5 months, currently teething.  When the current teeth come through I plan to try drowsy but awake with him and see if he's ready.

    Heather Margaret --- Feb '07 and Todd Eldon --- April '09
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  • imagewebMistress0609:

    Drowsy but awake is an urban myth. At least it is in my house.

    LOL.  I believed this for a very long time, but I'm starting to be a convert : ) 

    From 4 mo. to 6 mo. we worked on PPO and the Pantley dance as part of our routine. It was a super slow process that likely only worked because M's sleep was maturing on his own.  His sleep definitely changed from where he was in that light "if you blink you'll wake me up" phase for 30-45 mins. to now when he'll nurse and zonk out in about 15-20 min.

    What also helped us was when M was ready to tummy sleep on his own.  I don't think DBA would have worked before then as he is just a terrible back sleeper unless he is swaddled. 

    Now if he doesn't fall asleep in my arms it takes a few rounds of twinkle, twinkle and some back rubs and he'll fall asleep on his own.  Some days he'll even push up and watch me walk out the door, and then fall asleep. 

     

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  • Yes, it can be done (depending on the child and their maturity level and readiness of course), but here's the thing: doing so won't guarantee better sleep.  For some babies it does.  For others, not so much.  DS put himself to sleep for pretty much all his naps and most nights from 5 months on, but he still doesn't STTN.  It's nice because I can nurse him and lay him down and let him drift off, but beyond that it doesn't make too much of a difference. 

    If you want to try I would use something like the pick up/put down method from Baby Whisperer.  Basically lay her down, kiss her and leave, if she cries go back and pick her up and comfort her, then repeat until she falls asleep.  This is what I did with DS before I went back to work because I was worried he would never nap without me.  Looking back, I don't know that I would do it again.  I think babies are more adaptable than we give them credit for and he probably would have been ok being nursed to sleep at home and rocked to sleep at daycare.

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  • Thanks everyone - I really appreciate these responses!  You ladies rock!
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