Sleep Training “What Ifs”: Part Two
March 22, 2011 · Posted in Parenting, Sleep · Permalink

Tips from our book, A Mothers Circle:

“What if he is cold?”

A baby’s room at night should be kept dark and comfortably cool. Not warm. In reasonable weather windows can be left open a crack during naptime and nighttime. Typically, parents overdress their babies and keep them altogether too warm. Babies at this age are comfortable at the same temperature as their parents are. And fresh night air can actually help babies to breathe more easily.

“What if he needs a new diaper?

Changing a baby’s diaper almost inevitably will bring him wide-awake. On the nights when you begin sleep work, use a heavy amount of diaper cream and maybe even two diapers or rubber pants over the diaper to prevent leaking. If you are checking in and notice that the baby has had a bowel movement you may change the diaper. Just keep the room dark and try to keep socializing to a minimum.

“What if he throws up from crying so much?”

Vomiting during sleep training is not the norm but it does happen. As long as your baby is not sick or feverish, you can proceed in all good conscience. You do not want to reinforce vomiting in response to stress by bringing inordinate amounts of attention to it. It may help to keep in mind that when a baby vomits it makes him uncomfortable, it is not pleasant, but it is not as emotionally laden as it is for older children or adults. For babies with an easy gag reflex, throwing up is a natural response to crying. If you know your baby does tend to throw up, then prepare beforehand: keep a basin of water, washcloths, new pajamas, and baby wipes in a pile near the crib. In the crib put a crib sheet, layer of towels and then a new crib sheet on top before you put the baby to sleep.

If your baby does throw up, go to him right away. Keep the room in semi-darkness. You or your spouse can wash your baby while the other changes his crib sheets. Take a little extra time to settle your baby down again, but don’t feed him. If you react with great distress and fuss, your baby may learn that this is a surefire way to get your attention. Say goodnight, leave the room, and proceed with your plan.

“What if he loses his pacifier?”

The pacifier can be more hindrance than help during sleep work. You can try to increase your baby’s chances of finding his pacifier on his own by putting three or four of them in his crib. Or, you can retrieve his pacifier for him if you check in. Another route to consider is weaning him of the pacifier for sleep purposes, which will further encourage him to find his own self-soothing techniques. Many babies who use a pacifier during the early months naturally turn to sucking their fingers or thumb. This is a fine and ever-available way for a baby to soothe himself to sleep.

“What if he rolls over onto his stomach and gets stuck?”

In the past decade parents have been instructed to have their infants sleep on their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This can be confusing advice once your baby can roll over on his own. Ultimately, babies need to learn to fall and stay asleep in any position they get themselves into. Once they have the ability to roll over you no longer can really control their sleep position. If you feel your baby is unsafe on his stomach you can turn your baby over when you check in. During the day you can help your baby to practice flipping himself over from his stomach to his back so the can get more adept at rolling over.

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