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My Top Sleep Tip: Laying Your Child Down Awake

As a certified pediatric sleep consultant, a certified lactation consultant, and a newborn care specialist, I give families the resources and support they need to thrive during the newborn period.

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This post reveals how laying your child down awake will improve their sleep. If I am pinched for time and I have to give someone my single best piece of advice, this is it! Want to know the best part about it? This is something you can start doing on day one of your baby’s life! The sooner you start, the easier it will be.

Drowsy But Awake

There is an old saying that you’ve probably heard before – “Lay your baby down drowsy, but awake.”

Well, I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of this phrase. Mostly because what everyone perceives as “drowsy” is actually considered sleep. There is a fine line between drowsy and asleep and if you are putting your baby down drowsy, you might as well be putting them down asleep.

So let me ask you…

Have you ever fallen asleep warm and cozy in your bed only to wake up on your kitchen floor?

Hopefully the answer is no (except for maybe that one time in college). As you can imagine, if that were to happen, it would be a strange and very startling experience. Surely, you wouldn’t roll over and drift back off to sleep.

When you lay your baby down asleep or “drowsy, but awake” (aka practically asleep) you are putting them to sleep in bed and letting them wake up on the kitchen floor. They fell asleep comfy and cozy in your arms or while feeding and when they woke up, they were alone in their crib.

Sleep Props

If you have always rocked your baby to sleep, or put them down drowsy, then your baby literally doesn’t know that there is any other way to fall asleep. They never learned! So, every time they wake up, they think they need you to rock them or nurse them back to sleep.

If you help your baby get to sleep every night, then you will be tasked with helping your baby get back to sleep at night. Cue your baby crying every 1-2 hours at night.

Laying Your Child Down Awake

Once your baby is taught to fall asleep independently, they will realize that sleeping is a skill they are able to do on their own. But, the only tried and true way to “teach” this skill is by laying them down while they are still awake.

Teaches Independent Sleep

Laying your child down while they are still awake helps them learn to fall asleep independently. This will improve their nighttime sleep because when they wake up in the middle of the night, they will know how to get themselves back to sleep.

Increases Sleep Space Familiarity

Laying your child down awake helps identifies a familiar sleep space. This way, when they do wake up during the night, they know exactly where they are and how they got there. By putting your baby down awake, their bed becomes their bed, instead of the kitchen floor 🤪

It’s never too late to start! Sure, it’s going to be hard at first. It’s a change for them, they won’t like it, and they will cry. But within a couple of days, they will start to catch on! Before you know it, you will be on your way to a better night of sleep!

If you’re looking for more tips on independent sleep or what expectations you should have for your newborn’s sleep, check out my Complete Newborn Guide To Feeding And Sleeping!

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I'm Kristen

The expert & woman behind the screen. I'm also your new best friend who is ready to empower you on this incredible journey.

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