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How can I help my baby to sleep if they are crawling or rolling around the cot?

Are they tired enough?

This is common practice for a baby who simply isn’t tired enough yet. Your baby should have enough sleep pressure to be placed in their cot and roll over and fall asleep within 5 minutes. Sometimes boredom is mistaken for tiredness and baby needed a change of scenery rather than sleep. Another reason we might put our babies down undertired is because they might have truly shown tired signs but only because they are used to a set awake time. I find a lot of babies get stuck on the 2 hour awake window. They begin to wake early from naps or from overnight sleep and often the fix can be as simple as increasing awake time by 15 minutes.

Is baby overtired?

We have all had a very tired child who suddenly catches a second wind and starts behaving like they have been given a few espresso martinis. Imagine how you would act if you had been awake for too long and filled with a sugary cocktail (cortisol-adrenaline-martini). You’d probably rather be up dancing than sleeping and you probably wouldn’t be the easiest to deal with. If this is a regular occurrence for you, it might be time to re-structure naps and work on extending nap time or reducing awake times.

Did they just learn this skill?

If so, don’t make it a game. Of course, encourage the skill throughout the day and praise for their tremendous efforts, but I don’t recommend laughing at a baby rolling and crawling around their cot during sleep times. Give it 2 weeks while the skill is mastered and then baby should get over the novelty of such a physical progression. With this new skill comes a sense of freedom and agency. Your baby will be looking for boundaries so I suggest staying consistent with a settling approach. Use verbal assistance and help them to find a comfortable sleep position at timed intervals.

Less is more.

When babies get to around 6 months of age, sometimes sooner or later depending on temperament, less becomes more. All of your vigorous patting and rocking is now not as effective as it once was. Your baby is heavier, more resistant to sleep and generally not as drowsy before sleep times. You pop them down and they start crawling around their cot. You panic thinking they are not sleepy and start patting, shushing, rocking, singing trying to ­­­get them to sleep. The answer? Do less. Step back and allow your baby to crawl around in their cot. Sure, they are likely to cry. You’ve just changed what they know as normal and you’ve left them to party alone! See what they can do. Give them a moment, come back and re-assure them you care, you love them but with actions make it clear your job is not to put them to sleep.

Your baby is looking at you for direction. Be confident you know what they need.

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