QUESTION: I have a six-week-old
baby. He is most comfortable sleeping in our arms. Once he is asleep,
we try to put him down in his crib or bassinet. He notices this change
in environment and wakes up quickly. He has never been able to go
to sleep on his own. This makes the nighttime especially difficult
for us. What can we do?
ANSWER: Your newborn is quite bonded
to you. He is following his natural survival instincts to remain close
by: It is all he can do to ensure his safety. As a conscientious parent,
you should congratulate yourself on tuning into his cues. But it is
time for a change and this time you are the leader.
Consider transitioning your baby from your arms to
his bassinet with a song you begin singing while he is laying on you.
Continue to sing this song as you lay him in his own bed. Your continuous
singing will occupy his auditory sensory channel, leaving him more
mesmerized and less likely to attend to his kinesthetic sensory channel.
In other words, he may stir, but the sound of your continuous voice
and placing a hand on his back for one minute will likely calm him.
He will learn comfort from your soothing voice and warm hand.
Gently remove your hand, but keep singing softly to
him. He may indeed stir again, even begin to cry. If so, place your
hand on his back again, but do not pick him up. Repeat the process.
Continue to sing to him after he calms down.
This strategy may work immediately, if his protestation
is weak. But if he breaks into a full, lusty cry, you may need to
pick him up in your arms and soothe him again. If this is necessary,
pick him up, continue singing or speaking soft reassurances to him
in your arms. Hold him only until he is calm, then quickly return
him to his bassinet. It may take two to three times, but your gentle
firm insistence will get the message across that it is safe for him
to sleep in his own bed with the security that you are nearby.
In the unlikely case that this does not work, repeat
it at two months of age when he is likely be more accommodated to
his new environment outside the womb.