Lay On Hands During Night Wakings

Lay On Hands During Night Wakings

In the middle of the night when your baby wakes up, what should you do? This is a classic baby sleep dilemma with some folks saying that you should let your baby cry it out, and put themselves back to sleep, and other people weighing in with the argument that your baby is crying for a reason, and you should do whatever you can to soothe them – including picking them up, rocking them, nursing, etc…

I have a strategy that is somewhat in the middle of these divided schools of thought. First of all, when your baby wakes up at night, it is important to make sure that it’s not for a serious reason – so before you do anything, you need to make sure that s/he is safe and comfortable (for example, not having a soiled diaper). You’ll probably be able to hear a difference in your baby’s crying eventually, but even so, it’s best to pay attention to these things, because although babies will usually cry at night for unknown reasons, there are times when your baby is crying because something is wrong, and they need to have attention from you.

When your baby wakes in the middle of the night, the easiest way to help ease your baby back to sleep gently – without necessarily picking them up (which although it soothes them, it also wakes them up and can disturb their natural sleep rhythms) – is to gently lay your hands on their body so they feel your presence. Hopefully this will calm them to the point where you can slowly remove your hands and your baby will fall back asleep again, without you needing to go through the whole routine of picking them up, snuggling them, and whatever else you do to get them to sleep. The trick with this tip is to practice it with your baby until they become accustomed to it, and to provide the security of your touch while limiting any stimuli that might wake them (remember – no direct eye contact!).

This tip might not work the first time you try it. In fact, it probably won’t work the second, third, or fourth time either. When starting out with this tip, you’ll probably eventually need to come down on one side of the cry-it-out versus soothe your baby debate, and do one of these things. However, after practice and patience – both on your part, and your baby’s part – your baby will learn to put themselves back to sleep without a huge ordeal.

Next time your baby wakes in the middle of the night, try this. Practice for a week or so by working it into your routine of what you do when your baby wakes in the middle of the night. See if it works for you. If it does, you’re well on your way to a baby that sleeps soundly and securely through the night. If it doesn’t work, don’t despair. Many babies have trouble with this, and your own baby might not be ready for this strategy yet. Don’t push it too long, but remember to dust it off every month or so by giving it a try now and then. Eventually it will work.

Andrew Dolbin-MacNab

About the Author:

Andrew Dolbin-MacNab is a father, web developer, and one of the founding members of Pediasleep, a leader in the production of white noise and other soothing sounds to aid the healthy sleep of infants, cosleepers, and parents. Having successfully survived his daughter and son’s early sleep problems with the help of white noise, he is also an expert on infant sleep problems and their solutions.

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