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Should You Let Your Baby Cry It Out To Sleep?

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Imagine waking up to a shrill cry! You and everyone else is worried about why your baby is suddenly awake and crying his lungs out. Then you need to console him, and gradually put him to sleep. This process can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. And it is not just a one-day affair but happens every day so much so that you wake up in the night and wait for your baby to cry! How nice would it be if the baby could cry it out and then fall asleep on his own?

You would be glad to know that this is possible, and there are cry it out methods for babies to go back to sleep by themselves with little assistance from their parents.

But what is this method, how safe is it, and should it be employed at all? MomJunction is here to answer all those questions and teach you the cry it out techniques.

What Is Cry It Out Method?

Cry it out is a sleep training method where parents let a woken up baby cry alone for a predetermined time before intervening to soothe the baby back to sleep. The objective is to teach the infant or toddler to self-soothe and fall asleep. ‘Cry it out’ is a colloquial phrase for several methods that advocate letting a baby cry himself to sleep. The scientific name of this sleep training procedure is ‘graduated extinction’ (1).

How Do Cry It Out Methods Work?

The idea behind cry it out methods is to slowly increase the time taken by a parent to soothe a crying baby. This leads to the little one finding ways to self-soothe, eventually. There are different types of cry it out methods, but Ferber’s is the most popular one.

What Is Ferber Method?

This sleep training technique was proposed by Dr. Richard Ferber in his book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems. Just like in cry it out method, Feber method also involves an incremental delay in the time taken by parents to pacify a crying infant, eventually making him adept at falling asleep with zero parental assistance. The use of Ferber method is informally called ‘ferberizing’, and a baby trained this way is described as ‘ferberized’.

Ferber Method Process:

Ferber method should be applied only to infants over six months. It involves the below series of steps:

  • Step 1: Put the baby in the crib when he is drowsy, but not asleep yet.
  • Step 2: Say goodnight, give a kiss if necessary, and leave the room.
  • Step 3: If the baby cries out, then wait, and enter the room to calm the baby, but do not pick him up. Also, do not switch on the lights. Limit your stay to a minute.
  • Step 4: When the infant cries again, do not go immediately, but wait for some time. Thus widen the intervals between the time the baby cries and the moment you enter the room.
  • Step 5: Follow the same routine for the rest of the night.

The waiting time plays a crucial role in Ferber method since it needs to be consistent. Therefore, maintaining a schedule helps make things easier.

Ferber Method Chart:

The following schedule gives you the time you must wait between the first, second, and subsequent visits to the baby’s crib. In other words, it is how long the baby can cry before you soothe him:

Day First interval Second interval Third and subsequent intervals
One 3min 5min 10min
Two 5min 10min 12min
Three 10min 12min 15min
Four 12min 15min 17min
Five 15min 17min 20min
Six 17min 20min 25min
Seven 20min 25min 30min

After the first week, you can increase the waiting time by five minutes per visit.

Can A Baby Sleep With Toys And Pacifiers?

Ferber method recommends against the use of any object, such as a toy or pacifier, that the baby can associate with sleep. Toys can also be a choking hazard while sleeping as they can lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, it is a different case with pacifiers as they reduce the chance of SIDS. In fact, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends giving the baby a pacifier during bedtime (2). You could choose to give or not give a pacifier to your baby.

Does Ferber Method Work With Naps?

The Ferber method is ideal for night time sleep than daytime naps. Night sleep is important because babies sleep lesser during the day as they grow and, therefore, need to sleep for longer hours in the night (3).

Alternatives To Ferber Method

Ferber method is the most popular of all the cry it out methods. But, you could try other methods as well.

  1. Modified Ferber method: Those who find Ferber method too harsh can try the modified Ferber method. In this method, the parent goes to check on the baby every five minutes until the baby falls asleep. Unlike Ferber method, here the parent maintains a consistent waiting interval of five minutes between each minute-long visit. If the baby seems calm after a few visits, then the parent may decide to check on the baby only when he cries again. This method is also called controlled cry it out method as the parent is able to modulate the baby’s crying through frequent, short visits.
  1. No tears method: The parent puts the baby in the crib, pulls a chair, and sits next to the baby till the little one falls asleep. The next night, the parent sits with the chair farther away than the previous night, but within the baby’s line of sight. The parent increases the distance gradually every night and eventually leaves just the chair in the room. It gives a pseudo-assurance to the baby that the parent is near him. Some experts consider this method a better alternative to the conventional cry it out methods, as it does not make a baby cry till exhaustion (4), and is rightly called no tears method (5). It is also referred to as “camping out”.
  1. ‘Sleep lady’ shuffle: It is a modified no tears method. The parent distances the chair ultimately placing it outside the door yet sitting on it till the baby falls asleep. The distance is increased till a point where the baby cannot discern the parent’s presence. From the next night, the parent leaves the door open, and probably the chair as well, but does not sit on it. The baby assumes that the parent is seated somewhere beyond the door and feels comfortable.
  1. Bedtime fading method: The more tired the baby, the better he sleeps – this is the idea behind bedtime fading method. Parents wait for the baby to be extremely exhausted and thus fall asleep. Then they put the baby in the crib. The time is noted and, the parent puts the infant to bed exactly at the same time every night. Maintaining a schedule makes the baby sleepy at a fixed time and makes it easier to for him to get sound sleep.
  1. Weissbluth method: The Weissbluth method was proposed by a pediatrician, Marc Weissbluth (6), and the fundamental concept is similar to ferberization. In Weissbluth method, you put the baby to bed the moment he shows the first signs of drowsiness. Once placed in the crib, you leave the infant and do not attend to him no matter how distressfully the baby cries. The little one is completely on his own to self-soothe and fall asleep. Weissbluth method is perhaps the harshest of all cry it out methods and heart wrenching for most parents. However, experts believe consistent utilization of this procedure can yield favorable results (7).

Cry it out methods may sound harsh but do have their share of advantages. Several parents have successfully helped their babies fall asleep peacefully.

What Are The Benefits Of Cry It Out Method?

Crying can be the best way to drive the baby to a slumber. Here is how cry it out can have a positive effect on the baby’s sleep:

  1. Babies feel less stress: A study among infants noted that babies trained with cry it out methods had less cortisol, a stress hormone (8), and, the researchers directly correlated the low-stress levels to better sleep.
  1. Good for parent’s mental health: The same study tested for the levels of stress in the parents. It found that parents who invest time in cry it out sleep training are less stressed as they do not have to wake up multiple times at night. A boost to the parent’s mental health motivates parents to raise the infant better.
  1. Babies fall asleep faster: After a week’s training, a baby is able to fall asleep within 15 minutes of being in the crib. According to experts at the University of Michigan, falling asleep alone is an important life skill, which is made possible for babies through cry it out methods (9).
  1. No change in baby’s behavior or social skills: Long-term analysis of cry it out-trained infants has proven that contrary to popular belief, cry it out babies are at par with their non-cry counterparts, in terms of behavioral and social traits.
  2. Considered safe by the American Academy of Paediatrics: The American Academy of Paediatrics considers infant sleep training through cry it out as safe and cost-effective (10). It recommends parents and physicians to confidently give the method a try.

Are There Any Negative Consequences Of Cry It Out?

There is a flipside to the cry it out method.

  1. Cry it out may cause brain damage: Researchers from Harvard University concluded that ignoring a baby’s wails can cause long-term damage to the brain’s neurons leading to hypersensitivity towards any future trauma (11). The damage to the brain alters the way a nervous system functions. The study concludes that infants require touch and attention for healthy growth and there are better ways to sleep-train than letting infant cry.
  1. Babies have prolonged stress: Challenging the “low infant stress” hypothesis, another group of researchers found that infants display consistently high levels of stress hormone (cortisol) at the beginning of the cry it out training (12). This level persists even after the baby has stopped crying, indicating that sleep training has negative repercussions even in his waking hours.
  1. Dents relationship between parent and infant: The first two years of a baby’s life are crucial for establishing a positive attachment with parents. Babies communicate through crying, and if it does not elicit a reinforcing positive response, then the baby could develop a sense of detachment from his caregivers. Such infants grow up to have insecurities..
  1. May affect maternal love: Experts point out that mothers need to override their maternal instinct to subdue the urge to console their crying infant. This could hamper her faith in the ability to raise her baby properly. Her trust in maternal love may erode, and could be reciprocated by the infant who may no longer see her as a protector and caregiver.
  1. Could increase risk of SIDS: Cry it out method can increase the chances of SIDS primarily due to the isolation (13). Leaving the baby alone in a dark room with the door closed can lead to an untoward incident.
    Cry it out method has its share of supporters and detractors, making it a tightrope walk for parents.

While there are pros and cons of cry it out method, most researchers agree there is no definite way to support or contradict this technique (14). Studies that support cry it out rely heavily on personal experiences, which could be subjective. Researchers who undermine it have too small a sample size to reach a consensus. Despite these factors, pediatric experts agree that parents can give a try to cry it out provided they observe some precautions and be gentle with the baby.

Precautions While Trying Cry It Out Method

Here is what you must consider before adopting the cry it out method:

  1. Baby must be older than six months: The infant should be at least six months old before you give a shot to any sleep training technique. Some experts believe 12 months is the best age to start sleep training (15).
  1. Do not train if the baby is ill or teething: A baby is under stress when sick or teething, and would wake up in the night crying. Sleep training is only going to add to his anxiety.
  1. Not suitable for babies with mental disorders: Sleep training can be stressful for a baby clinically diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder. Such infants can have trouble coping with any form of negative stimulus. Leaving them alone to cry does not help them sleep better, and you must take professional help.
  2. Do not force the baby to adapt: Give your baby time to adopt. Also, decide by what age you would want to make him sleep independently. A baby who cries for an hour if left unattended is surely not a suitable candidate for sleep training.

Tips For Cry It Out Training

Here is how you can make the baby adapt to cry it out method successfully:

  1. Discuss the plan with your partner: Weigh the pros and cons. Consider the ways you both can synchronize to make it work. If you have other family members, then ask them to be prepared for unattended baby cries in the middle of the night. Having a discord later may come at the cost of the baby’s training.
  1. Maintain a bedtime routine: Stick to a routine every night such as bathing the baby or reading him a book. That way, the baby knows that it is time to sleep and, thus, he will soothe himself to sleep.
  1. Expect some disappointments: There are going to be several sleepless nights, followed by peace. By the time you get cozy, you realize the baby is awake, and you have to begin the process all over again. Be well-prepared to shuffle between moments of angst and calm.

If the infant has successfully adapted to a sleep training method, then stick to it. Avoid temptations to break the protocol and soothe the baby. That is going to ruin all your hard work. You can make an exception when the baby is ill. Consistency is the key with the cry it out method. Remember it may work differently for different infants. If in doubt, feel free to consult your baby’s doctor.

Be calm and patient. Babies grow quickly, and learn to sleep through the nights.

If you have sleep trained your baby, share your experience with us by commenting below.

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Baby Sleep

10 Most Common Reasons Why Babies Wake Up At Night

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The first year and a half is usually the worst phase of sleeplessness at night for the newborn and so the toughest phase for new moms as they struggle to cope with the maternal duties round the clock.

Does your baby also wake up suddenly in the middle of the night despite your best efforts to avoid it? If you are still clueless as to why this could be happening, read on to know what could potentially be the cause.

Why Babies Wake At Night?

Here are some very common reasons that could be causing baby suddenly waking up at night:

  1. If your baby is feeling too hot or cold
  2. If there is an intrusive light that is affecting your baby’s sleep
  3. If there is any sudden noise that affects baby at night
  4. If your baby was recently ill
  5. If there is a change in your baby’s routine, like a vacation
  6. If your baby has just learnt a new motor or developmental skill and is trying it out at night
  7. If your baby is about to reach a new milestone
  8. If your baby is used to sleeping with a bottle or pacifier
  9. If your baby is used to sleeping with a rocking or swinging motion
  10. If your baby is not properly fed before bed

How Do I Prevent Baby Waking In The Night?

Baby Waking In The Night

Whether your baby has always been waking up in the middle of the night or only recently doing so, it is possible to change the habit. Here are a few things you can try out to avoid babies waking in the night and ensures tight sleeps through the night:

1. Proper Temperature And Dress:

Ensure that the temperature in your baby’s room is comfortable. It should not be too hot or too cold for your baby. Dress your baby according to the weather and the temperature inside the room.

2. Maintain A Routine:

Babies find it very difficult to adjust to a sudden change in routine. If your baby is used to falling asleep at a particular time at night, make sure you follow the pattern every day. Try and maintain your baby’s bedtime rituals as much as you can, even if the baby is away from home. This will help your baby know that it is time for bed.

3. Tummy Full:

If your baby is full before falling off to sleep, chances of waking up in the middle of the night will be lesser. Ensure your baby has a healthy and filling dinner before sleep creeps in. Healthy eating is also important throughout the day as tummy trouble too could be the cause of his disturbed sleep. If your baby has fallen asleep without eating, you may try to wake up the baby by gently calling out his name.

4. Stop Those Midnight Play Sessions:

Avoid playing, talking, or doing any fun activity with your baby at odd hours. If your baby starts getting bored, chances of him falling back to sleep sooner will be more. Simply be there with your little one so that he feels calm and can fall back to sleep.

 

Hope by now you are clear that why babies wake at night. Do not worry too much about the baby’s nocturnal activity. Remember that waking up in the middle of the night is restricted to your baby’s first few years only. While most babies learn to sleep through the night sometime during the first year itself, others may take slightly longer.

Moms, how did you manage to make your baby sleep through the night? Do share your tips here with other moms.

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Baby Sleep

7 Best Swaddle Blankets For Your Baby & Tips On Swaddling Baby

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There are very few things that can replace a mother’s warmth. Swaddling is one such thing.

Who wouldn’t love to see their babies have a peaceful sleep? A sleep-deprived baby can be quite a handful. Moreover, if the sleeping patterns are maintained properly, the baby would grow well, physically and mentally.

Confused why we suddenly moved from swaddling to sleep? It’s because they are interlinked. Infants sleep better if they are swaddled. MomJunction gives you some much-needed information on how to swaddle a baby and would help you buy amazing swaddling blankets that can keep your baby warm and give him some much needed calm time. Also, check out our tips on swaddling and safety precautions.

What Is A Swaddling Blanket?

So, what are these swaddling blankets? The blankets recreate the environment that was in the womb. They give the baby the perfect warmth and comfort needed to sleep better. Plus, you have peace of mind.

Best Swaddle Blankets For Newborns:

Swaddling blankets come in various materials. The best, however, is muslin or cotton. If you are on the lookout for a good swaddling blanket for your infant, your search ends now! Here are the best baby swaddle blankets to choose from:

1. Bebemooi Sleephack

Bebemooi Sleephack Swaddle Blanket for Baby

Buy Bebemooi Sleephack: 100% Cotton Natural Sleeved Sleeper (Medium, Blue) For ₹10,648 @ www.amazon.in

Made from 100% cotton material, this amazing sleep bag ensures that your baby gets the perfect sleep in the coziest atmosphere.

With a zipper all the way through, this bag mimics the atmosphere in the womb. The pajamas make the baby comfortable, and the bag gives the baby enough room to move his legs. Travel-friendly and easy to clean, the material of this bag makes air exchange easy and regulates the temperature as well.

2. Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets:

Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets

Buy Aden Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets For ₹ 6,380 @ www.amazon.in

Most new mothers swear by this product! These blankets come in two sizes – 42” x 42” and 47” x 47”. So, make sure to order the right size. These swaddling blankets are light, yet they keep the little one warm. They are made of 100% cotton. The more you wash, the softer the blanket will become. Yes, these blankets are not the cutest in the market, but they do get the job done!

3. Halo Sleepsack Swaddle:

Best Halo Sleepsack Swaddle Wearable Blanket

Buy Halo Sleepsack Swaddle For ₹ 2,648 @ www.amazon.in

The Halo Sleepsack Swaddle comes in two varieties: 100% polyester version and 100% cotton version. They also come in three sizes: preemie, newborn and small. These swaddles have a zipper and Velcro, making them easy to use.

If you are uncomfortable with the whole swaddling process, the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle is the perfect for you!

4. Summer Infant SwaddleMe:

Summer Infant SwaddleMe Blanket for Babies

Buy Summer Infant Swaddle Me For ₹ 4145 @ www.amazon.in

Just like the Halo, the Summer Infant SwaddleMe also comes with a Velcro design. But the one thing most mothers love about these swaddles is their design. If you are looking for colorful designs, go for the Summer Infant SwaddleMe. These blankets come in two sizes: small/medium and large. If you want a swaddle that is easy to use and looks cute, this is your best bet!

5. Miracle Blanket:

Miracle Swaddle Blanket

Buy Miracle Blanket For ₹ 11,329 @ www.amazon.in

If you are a swaddling pro, this product will ‘speak’ to you. The Miracle Blanket does not use any zipper or Velcro. Instead, they use a unique and complicated wrapping process. The wrapping process involves elaborate steps and may seem confusing to some. But most mothers have only good things to say about the Miracle swaddling blanket. The only downside is that it does not come in different sizes. It also does not boast of cute designs but keeps wiggly infants safe and warm!

6. Woompie:

Woompie Wrap Blanket

Buy Woompie For ₹ 2166 @  www.amazon.in
This is one of the best swaddle blankets for moms who like to keep things simple. Just put your baby in and zip it up! It comes with a stretchy fabric that allows your infant to move around and be comfortable.

7. SwaddlePod:

SwaddlePod Swaddle Wrap Blankets

Buy SwaddlePod For ₹ 1529 @ www.amazon.in

Just like the Woompie, the Swaddlepod, too, is a no-fuss swaddle blanket. It is ideal for newborns and prevents startle reflex that can wake your baby up.

After looking at the above options, you might get a crucial doubt: “Why should I use a swaddle, at all?”

Why Is Swaddling Important?

Besides what we did mention above, let us quickly check these points out (1).

  • Keeps the baby comfortable and calm by giving him a womb-like experience and atmosphere.
  • Places the arms tightly towards the sides thus preventing a startling reflex, which not just wakes babies up from their slumber but could also increase the heart rate. As the arms are held close together even if the baby gets startled, he wouldn’t wake up suddenly.
  • Maintains the right temperature, much like the baby was used to in the womb. Swaddling blankets made of muslin or cotton cloths ensure good air circulation and the right temperature.
  • Prevents suffocation unlike loose blankets, which could lead to Sudden Infant Death.

Swaddle blankets are important, but what is equally important is the process of using them. Learning to swaddle your baby could take a few (read two to three attempts). You have to ensure that the baby is comfortable while you’re swaddling him. We know you will surely appreciate some help here.

How To Swaddle Your Baby?

While this isn’t rocket science, you have to consider a few things when swaddling the baby: his comfort is number one on the list, his willingness to be swaddled is number two and then the material and thickness of the blanket. Let’s know how to swaddle a baby.

1. Choose your blanket:

  • Consider the shape (should be square), size (preferably 40×40”), the material of the blanket, and the elasticity of the blanket.
  • The blanket could be a little (but not very) stretchable. This would help you wrap the baby nicely.

2. Fold the blanket:

  • Fold the blanket in a diamond shape from the top corner of the blanket.
  • The fold should be as long as your baby is.

How to Fold the blanket

3. Place the baby on the blanket:

  • Once the fold is made, place the baby on it.
  • Make sure that the baby’s neck and face are above the fold.
  • Support the neck while you are swaddling the baby.

4. Fold the baby’s arms:

  • One way could be to hold the baby’s arms around his sides. This way, the arms would outline the baby’s sides.
  • Another way is to fold the hands over the tummy to replicate the posture in the womb.
  • Whatever way you use, make sure that the baby is comfortable.

How to Fold the baby's arms while Swaddling

5. Wrap a side:

  • Hold the blanket on the side of one arm and tuck it in the downward direction under the fist of the other arm.
  • The blanket should be tucked in such a way that it holds the baby’s arm in place.

6. Close the bottom:

  • Once one arm is adjusted and swaddled, close the bottom of the swaddle.
  • The section, which is left at the bottom, should be folded towards the upward direction near the baby’s neck. The side should be the one where you just tucked the baby.

How to Close the bottom while Swaddling a baby

7. Wrap the second arm:

  • Just like the first arm, adjust the other arm and wrap it around.
  • This should come over the fold that you made from the bottom of the swaddle.
  • Cross it on the downward opposite side.

How to Wrap the Second Arm of Baby

8. Tuck the left over:

  • The left-over blanket from the second arm should be flipped over from the legs to the top in such a way that it forms a V-neck.
  • Tuck it under the shoulder of the first arm. You may have to lift the baby up a bit to complete the final tuck of the swaddle.

Tuck the left over of Swaddle Blanket

Things to remember:

  1. Give the baby enough leg space and make sure that the baby can move his legs inside the swaddle. Bad swaddling could sometimes lead to hip dysplasia if the swaddle does not have enough room for the baby’s feet.
  1. Do not tighten the swaddle. A tighter swaddle does not mean the baby is comfortable. You should only make the baby feel warm, not suffocated.
  1. Once the swaddle is done, check for air circulation and monitor the baby’s temperature.

At last, we know how to make our tiny fellas comfortable. But it doesn’t end here. There are still a couple of things you could take home!

For How Long Can I Swaddle My Baby?

And by that we mean the age until which you can swaddle the baby. It is best to swaddle your baby until three or four months, but some parents prefer to do it for a good nine months.

While most doctors recommend swaddling until four to six months, they also agree that there is no harm in extending it. The idea is to make your baby feel relaxed and comfortable while sleeping.

Once your baby gets used to sleeping without a swaddle, then you can do away with it. And how would you know when to wean your baby off a swaddle? The best way is put one arm off the swaddle. If your baby isn’t sleeping well and seems irritable, he is not ready yet. So wrap the baby back. After nine months, make conscious attempts to wean the baby off the swaddle.

When Should You Avoid Swaddling?

Swaddling is not suitable in all the cases. You need to avoid swaddling at times:

  1. Hip dysplasia is an abnormal bone formation in the hip section. Because of the abnormality, the bone does not fit well in the socket. If your baby has this, do not swaddle him. Check with your doctor and make sure that the baby is swaddle-ready.
  1. Avoid swaddling when the baby is not sleeping but trying to play or move. While this may seem logical, the idea is to swaddle the baby only when you are trying to calm him or put him to bed.

Risks Of Swaddling:

Swaddling is comfortable both for the baby and you, but it is not free of risks. This does not mean that we are discouraging you from swaddling your baby, but we just want you to be more careful. The two major risks involved are:

1. SIDS:

While swaddling prevents Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), it may also promote it. Confused? If you do not swaddle the baby properly, and the folds are too close to the baby’s neck (thereby obstructing the windpipe), there are chances of SIDS. So make sure that you’re swaddling the baby correctly and leaving enough room near the neck region.

2. Lack of “arousal”:

A lot of babies lose their ability of arousal if they are swaddled for too long. This means they wouldn’t know when to wake up. While many parents want their babies to get a good sleep, babies should be swaddled for a limited time only.

An infant needs around 12-16 hours of sleep every day. And you need at least seven! A swaddling blanket can ensure enough sleep for you both. But, make sure that you get it right!

Have you thought of using a swaddling blanket? Are you already using one? Why don’t you review the brand for us? Just type in your views in the comments section below.

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