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Getting Baby to Sleep Tips and Tricks

By Charlene O'Hanlon

When I was pregnant with my youngest, I received as a gift a decorative door plaque that read, "Baby Sleeping - Be Quiet or Babysit." At the time I thought it was a cute tchotchke and playfully hung it on the door of the nursery. It wasn't long after his birth that I started using that as my mantra, shushing everyone from the neighbor with the loud truck to the lawn guys with the leaf blowers down the street.

It wasn't so much waking my youngest as it was getting him to sleep in the first place. Especially at night - Little Man would fuss and fight the sleep he obviously needed until he would literally go limp in my arms (which scared the wits out of me on more than one occasion). Eventually, my husband and I learned a few tricks to get him to sleep somewhat easier.

Rock 'til he drops: Our wooden rocker got a lot of use in the first three months, when our baby could do little more than squirm around in my arms. There were countless times when the motion of the rocking chair coupled with a rhythmic "shush shush shush" was enough to lull him to sleep. Of course, sometimes it took the better part of an hour's worth of rocking and shushing before he nodded off. But once he did, he was out.

The baby shuffle (a.k.a., the perp walk): When the rocker didn't work (or my bottom was tired from sitting), often my husband or I would walk back and forth down the hall leading from our bedroom to the nursery, singing the shushes and gently bouncing him in our arms. Rarely, however, did the baby shuffle work for me; my husband, on the other hand, was so good at getting our baby to sleep doing the perp walk that I began to call him the Baby Whisperer.

Make some (white) noise: Occasionally, especially when he was fussy, the only thing that would relax our baby was some good old-fashioned noise. At the sound of the vacuum cleaner, his cries would cease. Put on some white noise, and he'd be happy. And once he relaxed, sleep wasn't far behind. I think in his first six months our vacuum was used more to calm Little Man than to actually vacuum the rugs.

Take a drive: When all else failed (and occasionally they did), we'd strap him into his car seat and take late-night driving tours through the neighborhood. We were careful to stay in areas without a lot of ambient light or outside activity, lest he get even more excited. Our outside excursions were the last resort only because we knew they were a sure thing - we didn't want him to get used to the idea of going out late at night. Consequently, we only did this when we had to pull out the big guns.

Of course, every baby is different (a friend of mine had a baby who would only nod off to the "Today's Hits" playlist of online radio), and what worked for me might not work for you. But if you've exhausted all your methods, grab the vacuum. You might get baby to sleep while getting the dirt out of your rugs. Talk about multitasking!

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