Develop a realistic attitude about nighttime parenting
Sleeping, like eating, is not something you can force a baby to do. The best you can do is to create a secure environment that allows your baby to feel comfortable enough to fall asleep.
A realistic long-term goal is to help your baby develop a healthy attitude towards sleep, that it is pleasant to fall asleep and safe to remain asleep. Many sleep problems in older children and adults stem from children growing up with an unhealthy attitude, making them fearful about falling and remaining asleep.
Just as daytime parenting is a long-term investment, so is nighttime parenting. Teach your baby a relaxed attitude about sleep when they are young, and both you and your children will sleep better when older.
Remain flexible when putting baby to sleep
No single approach will work with all babies all the time, or even all the time with the same baby.
• Don’t persist. If the “sleep program” isn’t working for your family, drop it.
• Develop a nighttime parenting style that works for you. Babies have different nighttime temperaments and families have varied lifestyles.
• Keep working at a style of nighttime parenting that fits the temperament of your baby and your own lifestyle. If it’s working, stick with it. If it’s not, be open to trying other approaches.
• And, be prepared for one style of nighttime parenting to work at one stage of an infant’s life, but not as they enter another stage. Be open to trying different nighttime approaches. Follow your heart rather than some stranger’s advice, and you and your baby will eventually work out the right nighttime parenting style for your family.
Decide where baby sleeps best
There is no right or wrong place for babies to sleep. Wherever all family members sleep the best is the right arrangement for you and your baby. Some babies sleep best in their own crib in their own room, some sleep better in their own bassinet or crib in the parents’ bedroom, other babies sleep best snuggled right next to mommy in the parents’ bed. Many parents prefer a co-sleeping arrangement. Realistically, most parents use various sleeping arrangements at various stages during the infant’s first two years. Be open to changing styles as baby’s developmental needs and your family situation changes.