Right now, I give my 5.5-month-old daugher a bath in the late afternoon and then she comes downstairs for some more playtime. At 6:45 or 7, depending on how sleepy she is, we go up to the bedroom. I change her diaper, hopefully for the last time (unless she poops or she's really soaked in the middle of the night). We sit in the glider and read a story or two, or I recite a couple of poems for her. I feed her a bottle (unfortunately, we're not able to nurse) and burp her. Then I turn off the overhead light so we just have the nightlight, which projects moons and stars and planets on the ceiling and walls. I turn on a lullabye CD. Then I put her in the sling in a cradle carry and we rock until she's asleep. I sing along to the lullabies I especially like. She's usually out within 15-20 minutes, at which point I put her down in the sling.
But when she was 8 weeks old, it wasn't that easy at all! It will get better, I promise. When Alex was your baby's age, here's what helped the most:
- Not letting her get too tired. Awake for 1.5-2 hours was usually about right.
- Wrapping her tightly. It really calmed Alex to swaddle her. Your baby's young enough to like swaddling, although you'll probably need to get a blanket that's a little bigger than standard receiving blankets.
- Constant white noise, either making "shhhh" sounds in her ear or running a hair dryer in the room. (The hair dryer was her Papa's special trick.)
- Not doing too much. Sometimes when you're desperate to get a tiny baby to sleep, you keep going from trying one thing to another, and it can actually be overstimulating for the baby to get that many different sleep techniques applied in close succession.
I remember one awful, awful day when 5-week-old Alex was up for twelve hours straight. (This was just before she was diagnosed with reflux disease - she was in pain *and* she wasn't eating enough to keep her nourished, poor thing.) I tried thousands of techniques that day, and she just cried and cried. (Me too!) Finally I was so exhausted that I ran out of things to try. I swaddled her tightly, lay down in bed, and wrapped myself around her so that she was very snugly contained. I turned off the light so the room was dark, and I just whispered "shh, shh, shh" for about fifteen minutes straight, not moving, not trying anything else, not even really evaluating whether what I was doing was working. She finally was able to drop off after about fifteen minutes, and we got 3 or 4 hours of sleep. I think it helped to go very, very minimalist at that point, because she was just so far past her limit of stimulation. It was a good thing I was too tired to try any more techniques!
Good luck to you.
Alexandra 4.11.05 and Colin 2.9.09. Click on my name to visit my homeschooling blog.