Drowsy but awake
Drowsy but awake – The key ingredient to healthy sleep
If you have ever researched infant sleep, you’ve likely come across the term “Drowsy but awake”. This refers to the concept of placing baby in their crib in a drowsy state but NOT asleep!
Babies, like adults, switch between sleep cycles, Non-REM and REM, throughout the night. As we switch sleep cycles we experience partial arousals. An adult may realize their pillow has fallen to the floor and retrieve it, or adjust their blankets and fall right back to sleep. This is where things get tricky for babies. Not all infants have the skill to fall back asleep after these partial arousals and will cry out, signalling for help. So how do we help them learn this new skill? By placing baby down drowsy but awake, and giving them space to practice soothing themselves. Each baby has their unique way of self-soothing. Some like to rub their heads side to side, others will suck their fingers or thumb and if old enough, they may roll around to get into a comfier position.
Another important reason to place baby down drowsy but awake is so that when they do experience a partial arousal, they are reassured by the familiar environment around them. When we place a baby down completely asleep, they wake up wondering “Where am I? Where did those warm arms go?” Imagine falling asleep on the couch and waking up to find yourself in bed! I would be a little freaked out too. ; )
So when should you start placing baby down drowsy but awake? As early as two weeks! The newborn sleep fog is starting to lift and baby is experiencing more wakeful periods. Like mastering any skill, practice makes perfect. Begin with once a day, giving baby a minute or so to practice self-soothing. They may fuss a bit and that’s all part of the learning process. If fussiness increases, go in and comfort them however feels best. A newborn’s sleep is so important to the incredible development taking place in their bodies. It must be protected at all costs, which is why this is a practice period. Self-soothing may not happen immediately but soon enough your baby will amaze you with their new skill and you’ll be beaming with pride!
Need help teaching your little ones how to self-soothe? Contact me to schedule your free 15 minute consultation. Let’s help them sleep better, together!