|So, what exactly is drowsy but awake?
It can be tricky to spot, but mastering the “drowsy but awake” sleep cue is key to achieving consistent sleep success. I encourage my clients to think about it as drowsy but calm. So, once you have finished your wind-down routine, you will put your baby into their cot calm but awake.
They should be alert to their environment but still calm. If you put your baby into their cot and their eyes are drooping or closed, their body is super floppy and relaxed and they are asleep within a few minutes, then you have definitely put them in ‘too drowsy’.
Being put into their cot calm but awake is a big game changer when we are working on sleep. Babies find it strange to be rocked to sleep in mum or dads arms and then to wake up 45 minutes later in a completely different place. It’s as if they wonder, ‘how on earth did I get into this cot?’ It can be quite disconcerting for them.
Knowing they are already safe in their cot when they are falling asleep will provide reassurance when they do wake from one sleep cycle because their surroundings are consistent, and everything is the same.
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In their cot drowsy but awake. What next?
At this point you want to hand over some of the reigns to your baby and allow them to do some of the work of going to sleep by themselves. Remember, sleep is a learned behaviour and encouraging them to learn to do this for themselves, with support, is a skill that they will use for the rest of their lives.
You can be right next to your baby, patting, singing and using your voice to calm and keep them relaxed. Babies are amazing little adapters and it’s lovely to watch them develop their own soothing sleep triggers. I’ve seen babies begin to rub their blanket on their face, suck their thumb or move gently in the cot, finding their preferred sleep position and then drifting off to sleep themselves. Once they have had plenty of opportunity to master this skill at bedtime, they will be able to drift into their next sleep cycle much more easily when they wake up during the night.