When your baby turns 3 months, you can start creating a routine, like singing the same lullaby every night with the lights dimmed. But try to put your baby in the bed while half awake – not fully asleep. Lay him on his side with a wedge or rolled up towel/blanket behind his back or on his tummy if you have a breathing monitor.
If he stirs, go back in, do not make eye contact as this signals play time and do not pick him up unless he has a wind. Simply place a dummy/pacifier in his mouth, tuck a teddy/blanket under his arm, give him a few gentle pats on the bum (upwards) while saying ‘Ssshhhhhh’ for a short while and then walk out. Next time, turn your baby on other side (this could shift the wind) and repeat.
If your baby is crying a distressed cry, he might have a wind. Pick up, burp him gently and then place him back in bed. Your baby still needs a lot of touch and cuddles in between naps.
If you focus on your baby’s cry, you will begin recognising the different cries. Start to differentiate between a tired cry, a wind, an over-stimulated or an uncomfortable cry. Try and treat each cry appropriately.
Sometime when a baby has been carried around too much, he might be uncomfortable from being passed from one set of hands to another. Settle him by using the swaddling method and then put him down in his cot. Gently pat him rhythmically on his bottom with your one hand while applying firm, deep pressure on his shoulder with your other hand and saying ‘Sshhhhh’ quite loudly in his ear.
Remember to teach dad the different types of cries and facial expressions you have learned to interpret and understand. Look for cues for tiredness before swaddling. Don’t wait too long because an overtired baby is harder to settle.
Up until the third month, your baby has been used to being picked up every time he cries. This was correct and very necessary, but now the pattern starts changing. You can start this transition to the next stage by keeping him awake after a feed.
Let your baby’s cycle gradually change to: A nice, long sleep; waking up hungry; feeding; time for stimulation like bathing, nappy changing or ‘playing’; calming down time; and putting him back in the cot so that he puts himself back to sleep. They need to learn to ‘self soothe’, in other words, put themselves back to sleep.
At around eight weeks it is also a good time to start introducing cooled down, previously boiled distilled water in a bottle. The benefits of this are:
- It can help to stretch him till the next feed (aids in establishing a healthy routine),
- Offering him this through the night, will encourage him to not wake for a feed
- He will drink more milk in the dat and less during the night,
- On very hot days, some babies can get thirsty and enjoy water instead of milk, and
- Gets him used to using bottles so that weaning later is not a problem.
Hint: Slip a small blanket through the ring of a dummy/pacifier. This way if it does fall out of his mouth, he can ‘find’ it easier by just turning his head.