What is the best way to respond to night wakings?
Consistently! Making sure you do the same thing every time is the best way to respond to night wakings. Sometimes people say they rock her back to sleep after the first waking, feed her after the second waking, then eventually bring her into bed after the third waking. Your little one probably gets confused about what might happen each time she wakes and cries for you, so she continues to cry for you when she wakes. To your little one, this is a little like playing a slot machine! Eventually she wins – and gets what she wants by getting into mom and dad’s bed. So, responding consistently will actually help night wakings. In other words, if you eventually feed her during the night, then feed her each time she wakes. Getting her back to sleep as quickly as possible will help the family get as much sleep as possible while you focus on teaching her to fall asleep on her own at bedtime, which will help to reduce night wakings. Consistency is key!
If you do bring your baby into bed with you, be sure to be aware of your baby’s safety and the risks of bed-sharing. See the Sleep Safety section for more information.About Dr. Lisa Meltzer