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My daughter is 9 months old and she is accustomed to fall asleep in our arms since she was born - after falling asleep we place her in the crib. The problem is that if she feels this transition she wakes and protests to have us pick her up again, which we do - if we don't then she wakes up completely and cries as long as it takes. Note that in the latter case the process of getting her to fall asleep again will take a lot longer, whereas in the former case she falls asleep again very fast.

Up until recently this was not problematic, because we would succeed after one or two attempts. But currently, we often spend more than an hour in this loop:

  1. Pick her up
  2. Hold her until she falls asleep
  3. Put her in the crib
  4. Go back to 1.

I was wondering if there are potential solutions for this problem. Thank you for your attention.

  • 5
    Good luck with your problem. How long do you let her cry ? – MakorDal Sep 30 at 11:04
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    We also had a similar issue with our son. We resisted up to when he was 15 months. Then he became too heavy and we needed to train him to sleep on his own. The first few days he cried when we put him in his bed, but we were right near him to comfort him. After a week he became used to the idea and was quite happy to stay quietly in his bed until he fell asleep. The really hard part is not to give up when you hear the baby cry. I was very weak, but my wife was stronger... Now we can't believe that he always goes to bed by himself. Also giving him a teddy bear to hold may help. – Beni Bogosel Sep 30 at 20:32
  • I have no solutions better than the ones proposed, just support. It's so hard to listen to your child cry when you know that it is in your power to stop it and give them comfort. But you can do it, and they can do it too!! Great advice someone once gave us was, "Don't worry, they won't be doing _______ when they're 18. This is temporary." – Ed Griebel Oct 2 at 12:44
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I don't really agree with Ferber, but I think there are parts of the approach that can be adapted without as much of the "make your baby cry, and usually the parent also" portion. It's probably impossible to do it with zero crying, but that's mostly because you're ultimately trying to do something the baby doesn't like - so of course there will be some crying.

In this case, rather than picking her up, soothe her in other ways when she crys once you put her down. I do agree with the "put her down drowsy but not asleep" part of Ferber's strategy, and that's the first step I think regardless. The second is to see what helps her self-soothe. Stay with her, caress her, especially at first; but make sure you're also helping her learn to self-soothe. It's possible to learn self-soothing without quite the rigid approach of Ferber, and without some of the crying, at least.

Over time, she will learn to self soothe, and she'll learn to take comfort from your presence even if you're not literally holding her.

One other suggestion: let her get a little more drowsy before bedtime, for a little while. My children had bad stages where they really didn't want to go to sleep; the solution was to let them stay up later, and then go to sleep when they were more tired. You have to make sure they're still getting enough sleep in total, but if it's a little later to sleep, later to rise, it's okay (until they have school and have to get up at 7, anyway!)

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    Perfectly good answer, good alternative to Ferberizing. +1 Must admit I didn't keep to Ferber's rigid schedule either, preferring to "soften" it a bit. Ferber's method is a good jumping point in that case. Also, some kids are more resistant to self-soothing than others, and having a softer approach saves all parties some heartache. – anongoodnurse Sep 30 at 16:49
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Your baby is used to being soothed to sleep by you. This is normal (and I believe healthy) in infants and young babies. At some point, however, it's important for babies to learn to self-soothe at bedtime (and nap time). Nine months is a fine time to start the process.

Please give her soothing objects, e.g. silky-soft plush toys or a soft blanket during the daytime, and when she's in your arms for any reason, try to include the object. The idea is that she will associate being soothed with the object as well as with her parents. When she starts asking for the object or clings to it, she's got a helper to self-soothe. Let he cuddle with the object during your bedtime routine and in bed.

Then consider "Ferberizing" your baby. The Ferber method is basically a controlled comfort method of getting your child to sleep by self soothing, something every one year old child should be capable of doing.*

The basic steps to this method (better explained and outlined here and in the book) are

  • Prepare your baby for sleep with consistent bedtime routines. These can include a 'warning' if old enough to understand, tooth brushing, reading, rocking, and singing.

  • Put the baby down when they are calm/drowsy but not yet asleep. If the baby is drowsy and about to sleep before the routine is over, abbreviate the routine that night and put them down while still awake.

  • Once in the crib, say something ("goodnight/love you/see you in the morning"?) and leave the room.

  • If the baby cries, return to comfort the infant at progressively increasing time intervals with soft words, but without picking them up. (E.g. on the first night, soothe the baby after three minutes of crying, then after five minutes, and then each ten minutes, until the baby is asleep.)

  • On subsequent nights, return at intervals slightly longer than the night before.

There is a routine to follow if the child wakes up during the night as well without picking the child up.

This will be painful for all of you. She's not used to her parents not responding quickly when she cries (a very good thing early in development, but not as necessary now, especially when there is no threat (i.e. not hungry/wet/cold/tummy pain/other that needs to be addressed), and you are not used to hearing her cry, which is (and should be) distressing to parents.

Some people object to comfort objects fearing an unhealthy attachment to the object. To me, that is an unfounded fear. We all have comfort objects, even as adults: favorite comfortable clothing, particular music, a favorite chair, (a glass of wine), a particular side of the bed, etc.

*We didn't Ferberize our first until about a year of age. I personally don't agree with Ferberizing at six months. Babies and toddlers are individuals, not cookie-cutter replicas. Temperament matters.

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    I'm not a fan of Ferber, but it's a good answer to have for those who do agree with the method for sure (+1). And I don't understand the objection to comfort objects either... it's like an element of 'macho culture' or something that just went waaaaaay awry. – Joe Sep 30 at 14:52
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You are putting her from your warm arms (and your warm chest) in a relatively cold crib.

Put a warm blanket in the crib first. You could put the blanket on the heating or so to war up.

So the drop in temperature will not be so sudden and the baby will not notice an therefor not wake up.

Simmilar to the frog in the greenpeace commercial.

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  • There are actually a couple of things. It's the noise, the warmth, softness, movement etc. So you need soft warm blanket + noise machine. The more you can recreate the better. – stan Oct 2 at 14:17
  • Nice answer! Hadn't considered this practical aspect. – anongoodnurse Oct 2 at 16:30
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I placed the child bed very close, right next to my own one so we could easily see and touch each other through the safety rods (the beds must be the same height). This worked well and I was not actually later caring about the need to teach her sleeping more separately till she was four.

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  • I love this approach and support it wholeheartedly, so +1. However, it doesn't actually help the baby learn to self-soothe if you go to bed at a different time. What do you do when baby is ready for bed but you're not? What happens if you leave the baby with caretakers other than yourself? Can you elaborate? (We did this with out kids - allowed them to sleep in our room - when they were older. We even put them to bed in our room. It solved so many problems!) – anongoodnurse Oct 3 at 16:32
  • You do not need to sleep yourself, just to be there. I was studying at that time so could always read my book while in the bed. – h22 Oct 3 at 20:28
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All other things being equal, babies form habits and do what they're familiar and comfortable with.

Sadly, huge numbers of parents insist their own experience is all there could be to it.

Contrast this with the episode of Supernanny in which we watched what happened to a child who's troubled sleep was, after two gruelling years, tearing her family apart… spoiling her parents' health to the point both were in danger of losing their jobs, never mind divorce. Imagine what all that meant to Little Miss's siblings!

Supernanny first explained to the doubting parents what she planned to do and then went ahead and every time the girl got up, put her back to bed.

Supernanny's camera team recorded her putting the child to bed 300 times that night… and there was nothing more to it.

At the programme's six-month follow up there had not been a single night of trouble sleeping - and please remember, before the intervention there had been two solid years of problems.

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Honestly? 9 months old is a bit delicate.

A/ Read this

The baby has to learn to soothe himself, they have to know how to get comfortable in a little corner of the bed without needing to be picked up, it's a habit to teach them, so your task is to teach him to get cosy on his own, and essentially you are trying to make children good sleepers.

B/ go to this page: https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/331-sleep-challenges-why-it-happens-what-to-do

C/ go back to step 1 and read loads about baby sleep patterns and common parent issues

D/ Become highly knowledgeable about the topic

E/ read some things about baby REM and deep sleep versus adults rhythms and brain development.

F/ Remember that people sleep best when they are physically and mentally exhausted and when their hands and feet and faces are warm. Then moment at which people sleep is generally when their hands and feet and cheeks approach >30'C.

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There are all manner of books and methods you can research. I doubt the efficacy of a cast iron methodology. We play it by ear and my boy who is 4 still needs me to come into him most nights, which is fine cause my 1 1/2 year old is a real wriggler and that gives my wife some more room. I believe that parenting and dealing with this kind of thing in a sustainable (for you) way is a very particular to the child. I'd probably try changing number or times of naps, keep him/her up a bit later, try get them to sleep in the cot to begin with, transitions require ninja skills, and generally play around with all the variables until it becomes manageable. Just make sure that you keep things civil with your other half, hard at 3am, cause he/she is the only other person you really got and if you start getting at each other it aint gona go well. I heard of one couple who would apologise before bedtime for all the horrible things they would say to each other through the night. Good luck.

p.s my wife recommends (https://www.nonomo.de/en/babyhammock) we had one and it worked great on both, until eventually it didn't, such is parenting.

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    "I'd probably try changing number or times of naps, keep him/her up a bit later..." Nine months is a bit young to start depriving a rapidly developing brain of sleep when it is needed. This is worse than the cast iron methods you eschew! – anongoodnurse Oct 1 at 19:26

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