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At about six to twelve weeks of age, your baby should begin to sleep for stretches of five to six hours at night, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), but many babies need a nudge in order to make the transition from needing your help. The AAP guide suggests that it's important for babies to learn to soothe themselves to sleep, because everyone (adults included) goes through a series of sleep cycles that include arousals and wakings. A baby who learns to comfort himself will be able to quickly fall back asleep during one of these cycles.
What you have to do
- Maintain a predictable routine for naps and bedtimes.
- Starting at approximately six weeks old, put baby in his crib while he's still awake. Let him get drowsy, but sing, tickle his toes or otherwise distract him so he doesn't actually sleep until he's in his crib.
- Keep the room dim and quiet, and give baby a soft toy or blanket if it helps.
- Don't go in when baby first starts to cry. Wait a few minutes to see if he falls asleep on his own. If crying persists, go to comfort him, but do not pick him up. Comfort baby by speaking in a low voice and patting him gently. After he calms down, leave the room.
- If baby wakes up in the middle of the night, don't rush to the crib. If crying continues, go in to comfort or change him. Leave as soon as he calms down.