Nighttime Awakening: Infants
Most 4 month old infants can sleep 7 or 8 consecutive hours. Those infants who can't have become overly dependent on the parent for making the transition back into sleep. All children awaken normally during the night, following dreams, but most can put themselves back to sleep. If your child cries, it's because he thinks he needs you to rock him back to sleep. He's become a trained night crier.
- First: Put your child into the crib drowsy but awake at the 8 o'clock bedtime. It's good to hold babies and to provide pleasant bedtime rituals. But when your baby starts to look drowsy, place him in the crib. His last waking memory needs to be of the crib and mattress, not of you.
- Second: If he cries, visit him every 5 to 10 minutes, but make it brief and boring. Stay for less than 1 minute. Don't turn on the lights. Give him a hug but don't lift him from the crib. Then leave the room even if he is still standing. Eventually he will fall asleep from exhaustion, but he will have learned a critical skill called self-comforting.
- Third: Do the same for naps.
- Finally: For middle of the night crying, rock your baby to sleep for the time-being. After your child has learned to quiet himself and self-induce sleep at naptime and bedtime, then phase out any holding or rocking during the night. Will your baby cry? Sure, for a few nights. Unfortunately, there is no cryless way to fix this problem. Will this crying hurt him psychologically? No. The thousands of hours of love that you have provided quickly cancel out these few hours of distress.
If you have other questions about sleep problems, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.