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Put Your Sleepy Baby to Bed

Starting when your baby is 6 to 12 weeks old, soothe her until she is drowsy. When she’s on the verge of sleep, put her down and let her drift off on her own. Don't wait until she’s fully asleep.

This routine will teach your baby to soothe herself to sleep, and you won't need to rock or cuddle her to sleep every time she wakes up during the night.

Safety First: Lower SIDS Risk

Every time you put your baby down to sleep, whether it's at night or for a nap during the day, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you do the following to lower the chances of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome):

  • Always put your baby down to sleep on his or her back.
  • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • Your baby should sleep in the same room as you, but not in the same bed as you.
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
  • Do not use wedges and positioners.
  • Offer your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
  • Avoid covering your baby's head or overheating.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Make sure your baby gets all recommended vaccinations.
  • Give your baby supervised, awake tummy time every day.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended.
  • If you're pregnant, get regular prenatal care.

Let Your Baby Cry It Out -- Should You or Shouldn’t You?

The decision is yours, of course. But if it's hard for you stay away from your baby when she cries, going with this method may not be the best choice. Studies show that, even if parents make it through the first night or two, they usually find that enforcing sleep this way is too stressful. Many parents were not able to ignore their babies long enough or consistently enough for them to stop crying and eventually fall asleep on their own.