I’m uncomfortable having my baby fall asleep on her own at bedtime. Is there any other way to help her sleep better?
Some people are quite uncomfortable having their little ones fall asleep on their own at bedtime – and that is completely fine! It might be something they are not used to or simply something that does not align well with their caregiving/parenting style or family culture overall. Know that many babies are able to fall asleep with an adult caregiver or sibling in the room with them and they do not have sleep problems.
What you can do to help her sleep, though, is to make sure that you have a consistent and early bedtime that is age-appropriate (about 7:30 p.m., and no later than 9:00 p.m.) and a brief (~20 minute) consistent bedtime routine (3 to 4 steps that are the same every night). The routine – that brings consistency and predictability before bedtime – can help your baby to wind down and get ready to fall asleep each night. Making sure that you make feeding as the first step of the routine (or even before the routine) will also help. You can certainly be in the room while your baby falls asleep – or even hold her as she falls asleep – without feeding her to sleep. Sometimes simply moving that bedtime feeding earlier can help a great deal.
If, though, making these routine and feeding changes does not help whatever issue you are concerned about (for example, night wakings), then you may need to consider working toward her falling asleep a bit more on her own.
About Dr. Erin Leichman