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Make Your Child Develop Sleep Associations

One of the key factors in your baby’s development is in creating associations with sleep. It is important, therefore, to instill a bedtime routine with your child that includes sleep associations he or she can replicate for him or herself. The idea is to get your child to a point where if he wakes in the middle of the night, he can go back to sleep on his own.

Establish a bedtime routine with your child that includes things like a final changing and feeding, etc. The best thing you can do is to put your child to sleep at a point during the day when they feel quite drowsy, but are still aware enough to take in their surroundings and develop their own sleep associations.

The worst thing you can do is get your child used to falling asleep with you there. If your child develops sleep associations with a pacifier or by being rocked, when she wakes up in the middle of the night she won’t be able to recreate her sleeping situation on her own – because you won’t be there to rock or feed her.

Instead, try getting your child to associate with things like a stuffed toy or blanket. The idea is that if your child makes sleep associations with these items, he can recreate the sleep situation on his own when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Instead of waking up and crying for a feeding or to be rocked, the child will be able to grab his stuffed animal or blanket and re-create on his own a situation conducive to sleep.

In this same vein, parents should consider the use of what is called a “transitional object.” This is something you allow your child access to only before bedtime, and which he can bring to bed. So as your child gets his final bedtime story, allow him to have his blanket or stuffed animal, and allow him to keep the object with him as he’s put to bed.

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