Being around my sisters-in-law over the holidays (3 of whom have newborns) made me reminiscent of that stage, some memories being good and some very stressful. Questions like, "I wonder if he got enough at the last feed?", "it's only been 2 hours; could he be hungry again??", and "WHY is she crying?!" Made me remember asking those same questions, over and over.
We discussed parenting styles and books on sleep, babywise, baby whisperer, happy sleep habits, and the rest of them. We were very middle of the road with our babies, routined but flexible. No co-sleeping yet no cry-it-out either, for example. If you also find yourself somewhere in between two extremes, this technique may appeal to you.
This is something I came up with on my own, merging various methods I had read about, but it worked so well for my kids. This is for when you know baby doesn't need to eat and it's nap or bedtime, but he is fighting going down. I also would not personally use this method until 3/4 months.
- Do your normal sleep time routine. Put them down drowsy but awake.
- Wait until they start crying. A baby who is awake but not upset is completely fine to leave to see if they will go to sleep on their own.
- When they start crying, give them 5 minutes.
- Go in and rock or bounce for no more than 5 minutes, then put back down.
- Repeat this process. I have only had to do this cycle more than 3 times once. Usually after the second time, they are asleep.
- This is important! If baby starts closing his eyes before the 5 minutes of soothing are up, put them down then. Don't wait until the 5 min are up. It's best that they get used to falling asleep in their beds at this age.
- The 5 min of crying only counts cry time, so if they stop crying for a few minutes, I start the timer over again when they start up again. I also may not start the timer until they really got going crying.
- Your time soothing them is greatly diminished. It accelerates the total time to fall asleep.
- You'll be surprised at what you can get done in 5 minutes in between soothings. Do something productive; don't just sit and watch the clock. (Especially if you are like me and can't stand crying).
- The 5 min of crying tires them out so that when you go back in, they are much more ready to go to sleep. Usually the 3rd time I go in, they start nodding off right after I pick them up.
- They are learning to fall asleep on their own, but not in a way that is harmful to their brains.