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When you have a newborn baby, often your most precious commodity turns out to be sleep. From the day you bring the baby home, getting it to go to sleep and stay asleep may be one of your biggest problems. Here are some helpful hints to help you and baby get a good night's sleep.

Until your baby is about 3 months old, chances are she will be waking up pretty regularly to be fed and possibly changed. These first few months it is almost impossible to "train" your baby to sleep, because they still need nourishment during the night.

Beginning at around 4 months, you can start expecting more of a schedule with baby: possibly a morning nap, afternoon nap and maybe even a catnap right before dinner. If your baby seems to be having a hard time falling into a routine, here are some tips to make the transition easier.

- Put baby to bed awake. If you constantly nurse or rock your baby until they are asleep, she will never learn to fall asleep on her own.

- Develop a nighttime routine, and stick to it. This may include a relaxing bath, a bottle (or nursing) a soothing song, and then into the crib for bed.

- If you put baby into bed and she begins crying, rub her back for a minute and then leave the room. Decide how long you are comfortable letting her cry (maybe 10 minutes or so?). When you go back into the room, soothe her, but do not pick her up. Leave and try again. What you will probably find is that once baby knows you are not "coming to get her" she will settle down and go to sleep.

- Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature, and if you have a noisy house, or other older children, you might want to consider running a fan in baby's room to muffle some of the sound.

- Don't be a slave to the baby monitor and rush into her room every time you hear a peep. Babies are very noisy sleepers and often after a few whimpers they will manage to get themselves back to sleep.

- If baby really begins crying, go into the room and make sure she is not wet or has a dirty diaper. Once everything checks out, quietly soothe her and leave again.

- If you have to change a diaper, keep the lights down low and do not stimulate her.

- Once your doctor gives you the okay to end nighttime feedings, do not try and "feed her back to sleep". This is bad for her teeth, and will cause her to expect a bottle every time she wakes up.

- After a few evenings, she will see that her crying will not get her anywhere, when she wakes up she will put herself back to sleep.

You can also try the same techniques for naptime. If baby is waking early, consider investing in blackout shades for her room, which will keep the early morning sun out and allow her to sleep. Some parents also swear by a nightime "lovey" or stuffed animal (IF baby is old enough) or soft music as part of the bedtime routine.

It may take you awhile to figure out what works best for you and baby, but pretty soon you should both be sleeping soundly.