How do you get your baby to fall asleep - and stay asleep?

Sleepless nights are a struggle just about every new parent can relate to. How do you get your baby to fall asleep - and stay asleep?

Sarah Bees, 36, for example, has never felt such joy and such exhaustion at the same time.

"I'm just running on nothing and completely exhausted. I don't know if you can see it in my face but it's been a huge struggle," she admits.

That struggle started almost four years ago when Sarah and her husband, Ryan, welcomed Charlie to their world. Overwhelmed by their love for her, they were also quickly overwhelmed by the realization that they didn't know how to get this baby girl to sleep.

And now with 5-month-old Henry, Sarah's reliving the nightmare.

"Charlie was such a bad sleeper and she was up four times a night until she was almost a year. And my doctor says to me, 'Sarah, why are you doing this again? You're in the exact same routine of having a baby who's up all night.'"

Henry isn't the only baby keeping parents up all night, of course.

According to a sleep specialist, parents of newborns lose two hours of sleep a night.

So, what's the solution?

We asked a certified pediatric sleep consultant who says the bottom line is babies need to learn how to fall asleep on their own.

"Laying them down awake, having them have that opportunity to self sooth, that creates that initial falling asleep at bedtime, and then the pieces start to come together where, when they wake at night, they'll be able to get themselves back to sleep," certified pediatric sleep consultant Alicia Birdsong.

But here's the problem: Sarah doesn't want Henry to wake up Charlie, so she does whatever it takes to get him to stop crying in the middle of the night.

"If he cries, I will try to put the pacifier in and I step back to see if that works, but most of the time it won't work and the only thing I can do to get him back to sleep is to just feed him. And it knocks him right back out and then I can lay him down and I can go back to sleep myself," says Sarah.

And that's the cycle she can't escape.

Sarah has read a stack of books looking for sleep advice but doesn't have the heart to just ignore Henry's cries.

But Alicia says there's another option called check and console.

"Lay your baby or child down awake, check on the baby - but during that time they don't pick the baby up. They are able, you know, [to] rub the baby's back, like let them know that they're there, it's okay, it's time to sleep, and then they leave the room," says Alicia.

There may be different opinions about the method, but the one thing everyone agrees on is the sleep deprivation isn't good for anyone.

"It's definitely been way harder this time around with the second child and not being able to get any sleep and it truly affects your marriage because you're crabby. It affects the way I parent because, you know, I'm much quicker to get cranky or I don't have the patience that I would normally have," Sarah says.

Sarah and Ryan have tried twice to take the expert advice but she admits she gives in. The plan is to do one final feeding around midnight, and then Henry will have to cry it out until the next morning.  We'll see if they can make it work and if Henry can learn to self sooth.

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