How to Help Babies Sleep When the Startle Reflex Goes Away

By Alicia Fedewa, Ph.D.
Sky View/Photodisc/Getty Images

Once your baby loses his or her startle reflex, you will find that your baby does not need to be swaddled before bedtime. However, if your baby is still having trouble sleeping for prolonged periods throughout the night, there are some helpful tips you'll want to consider to help your little one -- and yourself -- get more sleep. The Ferber Method and the Pantley Method are two options for helping your baby to sleep soundly through the night.

The Ferber Method

Make bathtime part of your evening ritual before bed.
Sky View/Photodisc/Getty Images

Establish consistent bedtime routines with your infant. For example, before bedtime, read a book, give your baby a bath, put on her pajamas, and feed her. Do this consistently to build positive associations with bedtime for your child.

With the lights out, put your baby in his crib while he is still awake. Say goodnight in a quiet voice and leave the room.

Go back into the room after 3 minutes if your baby is still crying. Stay for only a minute, and in a quiet voice reassure your baby that everything is OK. Do not pick your baby up. Leave the room.

Return to your baby if she is crying after 5 minutes. Repeat this process while staying out of the room for progressively longer intervals of time until your baby falls asleep.

The Pantley Method

Establish consistent bedtime routines with your infant. Before bedtime, read a book, give your baby a bath, put on his pajamas, and feed him. Do this consistently to build positive associations with bedtime for your child.

Nurse, feed, rock or put a pacifier in your baby's mouth in order to make her sleepy. Before she falls asleep, however, bring her to her crib and remove the breast, bottle or pacifier.

Allow your baby to suck for a few minutes if he awakens, but remove whatever means you are using to get him to sleep immediately before he falls asleep on his own. In other words, you want your baby sleepy, but not completely asleep when you remove the breast, bottle or pacifier.

Place a finger on your baby's chin and gently close her mouth if she roots when you take away the sucking stimulus. If your baby begins to fuss, put the bottle, breast or pacifier back in her mouth until she is sleepy.

Repeat the removal steps until your baby falls asleep on his own.

About the Author

Alicia Fedewa is a psychology professor who has been writing since 2006. Her work appears in publications such as the "Journal of Pediatric Psychology" and the "American Journal of Occupational Therapy." Fedewa holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Michigan State University, as well as certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.