If you find yourself pinned to the rocking chair for hours at a time because your baby just won’t stay asleep when you try to lay her down in her crib, you’re not alone. Many babies have trouble sleeping when their parents try to lay them down, and the constant attempts to lay your baby down only to have her immediately wake up screaming can be trying enough that some parents give up and decide to just hold the baby for the entire nap.
There’s nothing wrong with doing that, of course, if it isn’t interfering with things that need to get done and your own ability to rest. Most of us, however, can’t afford to hold our babies for the full 14-16 hours per day that they need to sleep. So, what can we do to help our babies stay asleep when we lay them down?
The answer, in most cases is fairly simple: wait just a little bit longer to lay your baby down. Most of us, after dealing with a fussy baby, are just happy that they have finally nodded off, and we are perhaps a bit overly eager to lay them down in their cribs. The problem is that your baby hasn’t fully fallen asleep yet.
Have you ever been half asleep? You know, that stage of sleep where you’re still somewhat aware of the things going on around you. Your brain is a bit fuzzy, and you might interpret things in odd ways, but you are still somewhat cognizant and not fully zonked yet. Most of us as adults experience that feeling when we’re starting to wake up.
In truth, most of us experience that on and off throughout the night as we are sleeping. We just don’t remember it unless we end up waking up.
When a baby falls asleep, she doesn’t generally fall immediately into a deep sleep the way most adults can. Babies tend to drift off to sleep, and will generally spend 15 minutes to half an hour in a light sleep state (i.e., half asleep) before eventually reaching a deep sleep cycle.
If you can continue holding or rocking your baby an extra 20 minutes or so after she falls asleep, you will find that she is more likely to stay asleep once you lay her down. You can tell that she has entered a deeper sleep state because she will stop making facial expressions and her muscles will be limp. If you wait for those signs that your baby is truly fast asleep before you lay her down, you will have much better chances of actually being able to lay her down and walk away to tell the tale.