William Sears, MD


"Gentle to sleep" is one aspect of attachment-style parenting. According to Dr. William Sears, a baby's wants and needs are pretty much the same thing during the first year of life. With this technique, prepare to adopt a "nighttime parenting style." Rather than trying to teach baby to sleep, parents make sleep an attractive place for baby to be. This is accomplished by sleeping close (keeping baby in a family bed or in a bassinet nearby) and offering a number of comforting methods when she awakens.

What you have to do

During the day: Carry baby in a sling and cuddle often. Maintain consistent nap times and bedtimes. By fulfilling baby's daytime needs for routine and closeness, you will help her develop more consistent nighttime patterns.

Before bed: Use one of a number of calming-down methods depending on your circumstances '- bathing down, massaging down, nursing down, fathering down (infant's head nestled in crook of Dad's neck), rocking down, wearing down (as in wearing baby in a sling, not horseplay), motoring down (yes, in the car).

Once baby's asleep: Don't sneak away until she's in deep sleep. Look for limp limbs. Baby will often awaken if you set her down during the first stage of sleep.

During the night: Sleep close to baby so you can continue to monitor her needs. (If you use a family bed, make sure to read current precautions.) Comfort, rock, change or nurse baby when she awakens.

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