By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of the No-Cry Sleep Solution
The environment that your baby enjoyed for ninelong months in the womb was not one of absolute quiet. There was a constantsymphony of sound -- your heartbeat and fluids rushing in and outof the placenta. (Remember those sounds from when you listened to your baby’sheartbeat with the Doppler stethoscope?) Researchindicates that “white noise” sounds or soft bedtime music helps many babies torelax and fall asleep more easily. This is most certainly because these soundscreate an environment more familiar to your baby than a very quiet room.
Many people enjoy using soothing music as theirbaby’s sleep sound. If you do, choose bedtime music carefully. Some music(including jazz and much classical music) is too complex and stimulating. Formusic to be soothing to your baby, pick simple, repetitive, predictable music,like traditional lullabies. Tapes created especially for putting babies tosleep are great choices. Pick something that you will enjoylistening to night after night, too. (Using a tape player with an automaticrepeat function is helpful for keeping the music going as long as you need itto play.)
There are widely available, and very lovely,"nature sounds" tapes that work nicely, too, as well those smallsound-generating or white-noise devices and clocks you may have seen in stores.The sounds on these -- raindrops, a bubbling brook or running water -- oftenare similar to those sounds your baby heard in utero. A ticking clock or abubbling fish tank also make wonderful white-noise options.
You can find some suitable tapes and CDs madeespecially for babies or those made for adults to listen to when they want torelax. Whatever you choose, listen to it first and ask yourself: Does thisrelax me? Would it make me feel sleepy if I listened to it in bed?
If you must put your baby to sleep in a noisy,active house full of people, keeping the tape running (auto rewind) will helpmask baby-waking noises like dishes clanking, people talking, siblingsgiggling, TV, dogs barking, etc. This can also help transition your sleepingbaby from a noisy daytime house to which he’s become accustomed subconsciouslyto one of absolute nighttime quiet.
Once your baby is familiar with his calming noise,or music, you can use these to help your baby fall back to sleep when he wakesup in the middle of the night. Simply sooth him by playing the music (veryquietly) during the calming and falling-asleep time. If he wakes and cries,repeat this process.
If your baby gets used to his sleep time sounds youcan take advantage of this and take the tape with you if you will be away fromhome for naptime or bedtime. The familiarity of these sounds will help yourbaby sleep in an unfamiliar environment.
Eventually your baby will rely on this techniqueless and less to fall and stay asleep. Don’t feel you must rush the process;there is no harm in your baby falling asleep to these gentle sounds. When youare ready to wean him of these you can help this process along by reducing thevolume by a small amount every night until you finally don’t turn the music orsounds on at all.
Babies enjoy these peaceful sounds, and they arejust one more piece in the puzzle that helps you to help your baby sleep –gently, without any crying at all.
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/ContemporaryPublishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your BabySleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002