Bedtime isn't always easy for your strong-willed baby.

Sleep Strategies for Strong Willed Babies

by Barbie Carpenter

You feel like you've tried it all. You've swaddled your little one, only for her to break out of it. You've offered a pacifier for comfort, but she rejects it. You play soft music or white noise and create a relaxing environment for your baby, but she still fights sleep. Your strong-willed baby might reject traditional sleep strategies, instead needing a carefully designed plan to soothe her to sleep. Find out what works for your picky sleeper, and the whole family will probably enjoy a better night's rest.

1. Discover Deep Sleep

A strong-willed baby will not go down as easily as his more relaxed counterpart. The Ask Dr. Sears website explains that your baby is less likely to transition well without waking. So, you might not be able to move him from your arms to his bassinet or crib until he is in a deep sleep. Look for signs of deep sleep, such as an expressionless face, still mouth and eyes and limp limbs, and transition your baby once you're confident he's sleeping soundly.

2. Take Your Time

Your strong-willed baby is probably going to take more time to put to sleep as well. Accept that your naptime or bedtime ritual is going to take some time, and you'll be less frustrated and more focused on soothing your tough baby to sleep. She might want to nurse, listen to music or be rocked to sleep. Then, you have to wait until she's sleeping soundly. This process can take well over an hour for some strong-willed babies, so invest your time wisely for a better night's sleep.

3. Mix and Match

Not every sleep solution works for every baby, and strong-willed babies are particularly difficult to soothe to sleep. Try different techniques and strategies to find the ones that work best for your baby. Consider swaddling your baby entirely, doing a half swaddle with the arms out, letting him fall asleep at the breast, rocking him to sleep or soothing him with a pacifier or lovey. Don't expect every strategy to work instantly. Some might not work at all. Continue to try different techniques until your strong-willed little one finds one that works for him.

4. Look for Patterns

During the first year of life, most babies have an unpredictable sleeping pattern, according to the website of the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families. Despite this unpredictability, over time, your stubborn baby might prefer sleeping in a particular location or at a particular time. If, for example, your baby prefers napping in her swing, let her. If she is wide awake at 8 p.m. and doesn't settle down for another hour, don't force a bedtime that's too early. Let your strong-willed baby and her natural cues be your guide as you navigate the challenging world of infant sleep.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.

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