How to get a baby to sleep
Any new mom knows this is a touchy subject: Listen to another woman talk about how her 5-month-old goes down at 7:00 each night and doesn't stir till 6 a.m., and it can send your own sleep-deprived self over the edge.
"I can relate to that," says Kristy Hecker, whose 5-month-old son, Ryan, used to wake up in the middle of the night -- even if he wasn't hungry -- and wail until she rocked him back to sleep. "At first I didn't mind, but after a while I was really feeling the effects of not getting enough sleep."
"Sleep deprivation can make you do some crazy things," adds Michele Porubcan, a mom of 9-month-old twins, Mackenzie and Madison. "I remember one early morning I was working on about two hours of shut-eye and I carried Mackenzie to the kitchen and almost put her on a shelf in the refrigerator!"
To get Ryan to sleep through the night, Kristy tried soft music, swaddling, and even letting him fall asleep in the car seat. Nothing worked. So, when he was 11 weeks old, she took a more drastic step and stopped picking him up when he woke before 5 a.m. "I'd rock his cradle, rub his belly, and shush him. In four nights he was sleeping until seven a.m."
The group's consensus: You can kiss your solid eight hours goodbye for at least the first few months, but once it's time to get your baby on a regular sleep schedule, trust your gut and don't do anything that doesn't feel right. "I bought a book that drove me nuts trying to follow all the 'rules,'" says Melanie Schaller, mom of Harrison, 7 months. "But what helped me most was the reassurance from these moms that whatever felt best was the right choice for me. Everyone supported me when I wanted to comfort Harrison instead of letting him cry himself to sleep, but they also helped me see that training him to fall back asleep on his own would probably involve some crying."
Meghan Rabbitt is an associate editor at Parenting.