If you have never used the "4 S's" from Tracy Hogg (The Baby Whisperer), I highly, highly recommend you do so. I describe it in this post: http://www.babywisemom.com/2009/04/sleep-training-four-ss.html. I once did a poll on the 4 S's, and 97% of people who had used it said they would again. The other 3% were undecided. 97%! That is very high rate of satisfaction. Some people worry about what using the 4 S's will mean for future sleep--for my thoughts on that, see this post: The 4 S's (three years later).
Turn the lights down. I either dim the lights (we have a light dimmer) or turn them off. With McKenna, I also closed the blinds, but Brinley sleeps just fine with her blinds open, so during the day, we have blinds open and close them at night. If I have a baby that sleeps well with blinds open, I leave them open. My idea--I don't know if it is accurate or not, but it is my idea--is that it will help the baby distinguish day and night. However, McKenna was fine with days and nights and slept with blinds closed. When the child moves to fewer naps a day, I will close the blinds for naps. For sure by two naps. I think this helps older children relax for sleep.I am using the 4 S's again with Brinley. I thought I would run down how I have adapted it because I don't do it exactly like Hogg describes. I think people should read about how Hogg does it, but I hope this post will illustrate that you can tweak it to suit you and your baby. Here are my steps:
- Swaddle. I then swaddle Brinley. We use the Summer Infant SwaddleMe Blanket .
- Sit. We sit in the rocking chair in her room. I hold her over my shoulder, pat her back, and rock. As we rock, I sing her lullaby to her. Once the lullaby is done, I stop the rocking and patting and just rub her back for a bit. Then I stop that and we just sit. I wait for her to relax. She is not the obvious relaxer that McKenna was. With McKenna, I could feel her whole body relaxing. Brinley is usually quite relaxed from the start.
- Place in bed. I then stand and lay her in bed. I make sure her SnuggleU is close to her and she is all cozy, then I turn the light off and leave the room.
There are moments of exception. Sometimes she is in some sort of discomfort and instead of having her over my shoulder, I hold her cradle style. I still rock and pat her back. If she is not relaxing over my shoulder, then we do cradle.
Another exception is sometimes she is obviously not in the mood to be held. In those instances, I just put her in her bed. I don't remember this happening with McKenna, but it has happened a handful of times with Brinley.
Sometimes I hold her for a while as she sleeps. If you feel like holding your baby, don't feel like you can't.
Hopefully this description will show you that you can make the 4 S's work for you. Hogg says to not rock, but I find it very natural for me to rock my baby gently. I am not going fast, it is a just a slow, rhythmic gentle rocking. It feels right to me so I do it. Do what feels natural to you.