(FOX 13) - Every new parent wants bedtime to go smoothly. However, for many, it's a nightmare of late nights and lots of soothing.
Pediatrician Dr. Lori Bowers says it’s important to develop good sleeping habits early.
"I really suggest by three months of age, lay your child down sleepy but awake because we have to start transferring that soothing mechanism to them from us," she advises.
But learning how to self-sooth usually comes after a few nights of tears, which can be tough for new parents. It's hard to resist the natural instinct of nursing, rocking, or bouncing a baby to sleep.
Dr. Bowers says that is not a good idea.
"We're encouraging them not to be good sleepers. Rip the Band-Aid off, stop going in and let them cry it out," she said.
It was a hard lesson for mom Alexis Lamora.
"Letting them cry it out is one thing I should have done earlier because once we started letting her do that is when she started sleeping through the night," she says.
Dr. Bowers says it could take up to two weeks for a baby to learn how to self-soothe. She says it can be rough for parents who cannot resist the urge to help.
"I feel discouraged more for the parents because I know their life could be so much better," she said.
It's always important to make sure your baby is sleeping in a safe environment. That includes putting babies down on their backs, avoiding soft bedding and crib bumpers, and never sharing a bed with your baby.
Dr. Bowers says serious sleep issues can arise in children, so if you feel like you have exhausted all options and you still have a bad sleeper, it may be time to bring in a sleep specialist.