Pausing before responding to your sleeping infant

Take a breathe before running into your baby's room while they're sleeping.

Dear Full Feedings Family,

We’ve all been there, the baby is sleeping and suddenly we hear noises coming from their crib, before it’s time to wake up. The question we immediately ask ourselves is, do I need to go in right when my baby wakes up or should I leave them alone to fall back asleep independently?

From my experience, a pause before we helped our baby back to sleep worked best for us. We certainly didn't want our baby to be awake for 30 minutes crying before we responded to her, but, waiting 2-5 minutes (depending on age) can be a great way to see if she was really awake or not!

One thing I learned with my daughter was, sometimes she would start making noises during the night when she wasn’t actually awake. Babies have bad dreams just like we do! They also get into uncomfortable positions, just like we do! Depending on their age, maybe they need to pass gas, just like we do! All of these can cause them to start whimpering or crying out during the night when they may not be fully awake.

If we always jump in and respond when the baby is crying, we may actually wake them up or take away their chance to fall back asleep on their own. it's so hard to think rationally when our babies are crying, we’re tired, or both, and sometimes we aren’t sure if we even heard them right when they woke up. That’s okay! As long as they aren’t screaming in pain, it’s okay to let them be for a few minutes. We tried to give ourselves a short chore to do while we waited instead of sitting still listening to our daughter cry.

That being said, we also don’t want to wait too long and compromise OWT or wait until the baby is so upset they can’t easily calm down. This is why I think 2-5 minutes is a great range to wait before you go in to help your baby. As you get more comfortable with their ability to soothe themselves and as they get older, you can slowly increase your wait time.

One night, when my daughter was around 6 months old, I remember waking up and hearing my daughter scream in the middle of the night. I jumped out of bed, but stopped myself before rushing in. I took a second to think and decided to look at the monitor to see what she was doing. When I looked at the monitor, she was asleep and I didn’t hear anything else from her. Most likely, she got her hand or foot stuck in the crib and cried out in her sleep before freeing it and finding a comfortable position. Maybe she had a bad dream or had to fart. Who knows? If your baby really needs you, they will let you know, but it's good to give them a chance to resolve one-time issues on their own.  If I had immediately gone in there, she likely would have woken up and I would have taken away her chance to sleep through the night.

Of course, you know your baby best, mama so always trust yourself and do what’s best for your family!

To sleeping well,