I think that having a well rested baby and child is one of the biggest gifts you can give a child. I am a believer that children need a lot of sleep. The idea of tiring out a child just doesn't work for bedtime - they will eventually sleep - but in the end a well rested child will be happier, make better choices, which means less tears and anger. So the energy you put into a sleeping little one will really make your life easier!
First things first, remember when you would hold your infant in your arms and watch every breath and see them fall deeper and deeper into sleep - you would notice every twitch, every eye flicker? This is the very information that will help you discover what kind of sleeper you have. Some babies fall into deep sleep right away, others need 15 and some it takes 30 minutes. How do you know if they are in deep sleep - well, if you lift their limp arm in the air and drop it and it falls like a rock - they are in deep sleep.
Ok, now take that information, and realize that when you are putting your now 6 month old baby to bed - they are going to need quiet - good quiet while they fall into deep sleep.
Some babies love their crib more than anything - this will make it easy if your baby is in this category. If not, you will need to detoxify the crib...no, not with a certain cleaning product..."detoxify the crib" is my own made up term for making the crib a happy place. This means doing whatever you can do to make the crib your baby's happiest place (besides your arms). So here are a few ways to make it happy (do these for at least two weeks if your child doesn't like the crib)...
- Let your baby play with toys in it - but don't leave them so long they cry - only a few minutes - long enough to create happy memories.
- Get in the crib with your baby - I know, it seems wrong, but if you like to be in there, they will!
- Never rush in and sweep up your crying baby out of the crib (unless they are sick) try and help them be happy before you pick them up ie. peek a boo or tickling games
- Be sure they get their special blankets, pacifiers, whatever they love the most
And then once the crib is the happiest place, focus on the first nap. This means as soon as your baby wakes up watch them like a hawk, as soon as they yawn (not the wake up yawn) but the first sleepy sign...rubbing eyes, yawning, sometimes sadness...put them down. This may be an hour after they are up - but if you can get a first nap in right away - the second nap and bedtime will be so much easier.
I am a fan of wrapping little babies, and older babies I sing a little song or something - the same thing every time to signal - nap time. Some babies like music - but some its too stimulating - so just be wary.
Novels are written on this subject - so this is just the beginning. And its almost ironic because although my kids really love nap time and sleeping - this week it hasn't been so ideal. My two year old learned to escape from the bed and is in the middle of getting up and getting up. I'm in the midst of a calm - return to bed - no extra cuddles, just persistence project. Sigh...so for me - be sure and add ideas for toddlers who get up and up and up...I have a few others, but my general rule of thumb - is if you do something consistently for two weeks with no luck - its probably not a match for your child...and I'm at seven days and counting!
Painting: Sleeping Child Covered with Blanket by Henry Moore