Sleep Training for Babies
Different babies have different sleeping patterns, but from the age of four months to seven months, they have an already established 24-hour pattern. Research shows that the daily schedules of a baby affect their sleeping patterns too. For new moms, this might be a bit overwhelming especially if your baby is feeding in the middle of the night. However, once you establish a good schedule for feeding time, bath time, nap time, and play time, sleep training becomes a whole lot easier.
Children are different, and therefore sleep training can be done in various ways depending on which approach best suits you and your baby. The goal is to help your baby learn to sleep on their own and stay asleep throughout the night.
How to prepare for sleep training
1. Introduce a bedtime routine which could involve a warm bath, a book, and a lullaby before putting your baby to bed. This can start any time from when your baby is six weeks old.
2. Pick a consistent bedtime. The most recommended is between seven and eight o’clock when your baby is not fighting sleep or overtired.
3. Follow a predictable daytime schedule. The daytime schedule of your baby hugely affects their sleep pattern. The predictability helps the baby feel relax and secure, which means that the baby will sleep comfortably.
4. It is important to make sure that your baby doesn’t have a medical condition such as sleep apnea that affects your baby’s sleep. In this case, you should see your baby’s doctor before you start sleep training.
There are different ways to sleep train your baby, but they all depend on what you are comfortable doing and what your baby can do. With this in mind, parents should be sure to speak to their pediatrician before they start sleep training. There are many factors to consider before gently pushing your baby to sleep more at night. All babies are different. One sleep training approach can work for your friend’s baby, but it wouldn’t work for your baby. Just like you cannot compare your progress to your neighbor’s, you cannot compare your baby ’s sleep training progress to another baby’s progress.
Although sleep training is optional, here are a few options worth looking at:
1. The cry it out approach: This method is not popular nor do parents prefer this option however some may find this works for their unique family lifestyle. This method encourages the parent to put their baby in bed when they are awake but drowsy and then let them self sooth themself to sleep. Crying will happen but you should be attentive to baby with intervals of comforting but not picking up the baby. Note that you should not allow your baby to cry indefinitely. It’s absolutely fine if this method is not for you.
2. The no cry approach: In this method, the baby should be soothed and comforted until they fall asleep. Immediately the child shows signs of crying; the parent should help soothe and calm the baby until they are relaxed and able to sleep soundly. This method could be a little difficult for first, second and third-time mothers but just keep in mind that the baby will eventually adapt to the new changes and routine.
3. The fading approach: In this method, parents gradually do away with their bedtime role by moving further and further away from the baby’s crib every night until eventually, they are out of the nursery. Another way to approach fading in comforting your baby in intervals one longer than the last, until the baby falls asleep on their own.
It is important to pick a method that you can be able to live with and to follow through with it. If your baby shows discomfort or negatively changes his or her mood, stop using that method and wait a few days or weeks before trying another one, or stop all together.