For me at least, months 4 and six were tough- possibly even tougher than months one and two. In the beginning, the lack of sleep doesn’t seem to effect you the way one would think but then, BAM! it catches up and you are really, really, really tired.
This is also around the time that you will stop swaddling and when the pacifier will fall out of the baby’s mouth all night long.
So, given the above mentioned challenges, here are my sleep tips for getting through these potentially rough months.
In my sleep tips for the first month, I explained the importance of the swaddle. I cannot stress this enough! However, all good thing must come to an end and once your baby is able to turn from their back to their stomach, the swaddling must stop. A good transitional swaddle is the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle. You can use it as a traditional swaddle or wrap the baby across the chest. This will continue to provide a sense of security a regular sleepsack won’t give them.
You’ll first stop the swaddle during naps and see how your baby adjusts. Some are fine from the get go and others, not so much. My daughter loved the swaddle so we began our transition by leaving one arm out. We did this for naps for a few days and then at night. Once she is sleeping well with one arm out, you’ll start to leave both arms out and cross the baby at the chest (leaving both arms out). Sleep crutch number 1 is now gone!
Pacifiers- A Love/Hate Relationship
Pacifiers can be you and your baby’s very best friend. Many doctors now recommend them as protection against SIDS. I suggest only using pacifiers during nap and bedtimes, if possible, so you don’t get a baby who is overly reliant on the soothing they provide. We actually keep ours strictly in the crib and one in the diaper bag for on-the-go emergencies. When I get her up, I take it right out of her mouth and leave it in the crib.
Right around this time, the pacifier seems to fall out of their mouth all night long. You have a few choices on how to deal with this annoying dilemma, each with their own pros and cons.
- When they lose it, let them cry it out. For me personally, I wasn’t ready to just let her cry it out at this point but some people do and have great success. Do what works for you and you feel comfortable with!
- Take away the pacifier completely. The pacifier is a sleep crutch, just like swaddling. You can totally take it away at any point you wish to. Be prepared for a few (3-5 is average) rough nights but they will get the hang of sleeping without it. However, if you choose to take it away, DO NOT PUT ANOTHER SLEEP CRUTCH IN ITS PLACE! Do not start picking them up, rocking them to sleep, or putting them in bed with you.
- Go in and replace it. Ughhhhhh. This is what I did and let me tell you, it was a rough few weeks. During this time, I also worked with her during the day on learning how to put the pacifier back in her mouth. I also did what’s known as “the sprinkle”. This is where you sprinkle many, many pacifiers in the crib in hopes of the baby finding one and replacing it themselves. During this time, I was not getting her up for feeding, rocking or anything- I just went in and stuck the pacifier in her mouth.
Other Challenges During This Time Period
Teething, traveling, a growth spurt, a sick baby- all of these things can throw a fairly well scheduled baby off course. My advise- whatever you do, do not start bad habits you’ll have to break later. When your baby is up screaming because they’re in pain, absolutely pick them up, rock them, soothe them but then put them back in their crib. You may have to do this multiple times in a night- tag your partner for a break but stay the course! With parenting, now and even when they’re teenagers, the easy thing to do is usually not the right thing to do. Parenting is hard work but the end result (in this case a baby who has good sleep habits) is worth your effort and energy.
*ALWAYS PUT A BABY TO SLEEP ON THEIR BACK*
All advice above is solely my personal opinion based on my experience. Always consult a medical professional with any medical concerns.