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  • Most people think a baby is ready for slumber when her eyes get lidded and her head slumps against our shoulder. Actually, at that point she is overtired.

    Many babies can sleep anywhere, anytime. But those with a challenging temperament or poor state control live on a tightrope. Growing weariness can suddenly tip them off balance and send them crashing down from a happy alertness to exhausted misery in a blink.

    So if your well-meaning neighbor says to keep your tired baby awake during the day to boost her sleep at night, don’t do it! This strategy may work for adults, but it usually backfires with babies, leading to bigger struggles falling into sleep…and staying there.

    In his classic book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby, sleep expert Dr. Mark Weissbluth states, “Sleep begets sleep.” He’s right…and that’s why experienced parents put their babies to sleep before they get overtired.

    signs your baby is ready for sleep

    As shown in the sample 2-month-old schedule above during these early months, your best bet is to put your little bug in bed after 1.5-2 hours of wakefulness, hopefully at–– or just before­­––she shows these early signs of fatigue:

    • Reduced activity, smiling, and talking (or even frowning!).
    • Yawning.
    • Staring, blinking and rubbing the eyes.
    • Increased fussing. 

    As time goes on, it will get easier and easier to recognize your little one’s sleepy-time cues. Putting her down before she gets overtired and cranky will not only be easier for you, but it will also set her up to get the best sleep possible!

    5 Comments

    1. The Happiest Baby Team July 20, 2018 at 12:33 PM

      Hi Ellen,

      Being hungry and needing a diaper change are definitely common reasons babies won’t settle. Another is that your baby could be “under-stimulated.” In the womb, babies experience constant sound, motion and touch. We can often help babies sleep by mimicking those womblike sensations with snug swaddling, rumbly white noise and gentle motion. You can read more about these ideas in this article on the 5S’s, a simple technique developed by Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby’s founder.

      https://www.happiestbaby.com/blogs/blog/the-5-s-s-for-soothing-babies

      You may also be interested in SNOO Smart Sleeper, also developed by Dr. Karp, which uses 3 of the 5 S’s to improve sleep. It has shown to really help babies who wake often at night and struggle at nap time.

      https://www.happiestbaby.com/products/57fc1c5bca82b6110015f275

      Best of luck helping your little one sleep!
      The Happiest Baby Team

    2. ELlen July 20, 2018 at 12:31 PM

      My daughter is severly sleep deprived as her almost one-month old just wont sleep for long enough blocks of time. He’s getting enough milk from nursing (as realized from wet/dirty diapers), and will settle, but not stay asleep for much more than an hour during the day and three hours at night. Suggestions?

    3. Edward December 6, 2017 at 09:57 AM

      Readiness to sleep wasn’t on side of baby, but on our side. We know, when baby wanted go to sleep after 2 month. But bigger problem was how to teach him to go to sleep alone, without hours spending on trying. I read once about HWL method, it was in very short ebook by S. Urban and I realized, that kid isn;t that complicated how we think they are. It is neccessary to do right things in right time – thats all.

    4. Happiest Baby Staff September 15, 2017 at 09:47 AM

      Hi Erin,
      You’re right! For a dream feed, Dr. Karp recommends waking your wee one around 11 p.m. and encouraging her to nurse (5-10 minutes on one side and the rest on the other side). Then, when you put her down again, that you try the "wake and sleep” trick. The graph should only show the baby up for about 30 minutes.(https://www.happiestbaby.com/blogs/blog/what-is-a-dream-feed-and-how-do-i-do-it).

    5. Erin July 17, 2017 at 04:50 PM

      In this sleep schedule only, the dream feed is in the middle of a large block of awake time. Is this correct?

      In reading the book, it does not sound like the baby is intended to be awake for 1.5 hours for a dream feed. Can you please clarify?

      Thanks!

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