While there’s a whole host of tips on how to prepare for sleep training, there isn’t a foolproof method that works for every baby (and parent). Rather, it’s often a case of trial-and-error while you adjust to your baby’s sleep habits, find what works for you, and get to grips with your new bedtime routine.
Along the way, it’s inevitable that you and your baby will come up against some sleep training stress, whether it’s getting over separation anxiety or your baby fighting sleep.
Though it’s often best to find a pediatric sleep expert that can help you overcome these issues successfully, there are also some simple tips that may ensure everyone enjoys a good night’s sleep.
We discuss five of these helpful tips and tricks below.
There are many different opinions on which are the best sleep training methods. For example, some favor the cry-it-out method which involves leaving your baby to cry themself to sleep.
For many new moms and dads, however, this can cause significant anxiety and concerns over whether it’s cruel to do this to your baby. And, as experts suggest, many sleep training studies don’t quite put your mind at ease regarding this method, as they tend to refer to gentler, non-CIO sleep training methods instead.
These include the Ferber sleep training technique.
While this method does involve leaving your baby to cry, it also includes frequent periods of checking on them and comforting them. Instead of your baby simply crying to sleep on their own, you’ll check on them at regular intervals, increasing the time between these checkups as you go along. Not only is this a great way of teaching baby to self-soothe, but it also reduces the amount of stress for everyone involved.
Even though establishing a bedtime routine while your baby is young is highly beneficial, many evidence-based sleep science techniques won’t recommend doing this until your baby is four to six months old.
It isn’t until they reach this age that they’re ready to start developing self-soothing skills. In addition, they haven’t had enough time to get overly used to being cradled or soothed to sleep by you. You should also find that their wake windows generally follow longer periods of sleep than when they were only one to three months old.
Enjoy that time with your baby while they fall asleep? Love nothing more than to sing them a lullaby or rock them gently as they begin to sleep?
If you like to help baby fall asleep, there is nothing preventing you from continuing to do this.
For some parents, that time before bed is the most treasured and heartwarming part of the day. If this is the case with your family, there’s nothing stopping you from continuing your beloved bedtime routine. Rather, a healthy sleep schedule may include lullabies, bath times, and cradling– it just won’t include being present when your child finally drifts off to sleep.
If you’re struggling with the idea of the Ferber method or looking for a solution to separation anxiety and sleep training, there are alternative methods available.
One of these is the “pick up and put down method.” It’s similar to the Ferber technique but is a more hands-on approach. In this method, you pick up your baby to help soothe them back to sleep when they don’t seem to be doing this on their own. Alternatively, you can simply stroke their head or rub their tummy to comfort them while they start to fall back to sleep.
Baby won’t sleep in their crib?
In this case, you may want to try the “chair method.” Here, you sit next to their crib while they soothe themself to sleep. Each night, you move your chair a little further away until you’re out the door and they’re drifting off without you being in the room.
It is important to note, however, that these methods can take a little longer than others and may induce some common separation anxiety issues. For instance, if your baby gets used to you being in the room while they fall asleep, they may be distressed when they wake up and you’re not there.
Should you find that your baby continues to resist sleep even though you’ve created the perfect routine and sleep environment, it may be time to adjust their sleep schedule slightly. This enables you to tweak their body clock so they’re ready for bed at the right time.
On the first night, wait until your baby’s fighting sleep before putting them to bed. Make a note of the time, then put them to bed fifteen minutes earlier the following night. Keep doing this until they’re hopefully ready to sleep at their desired bedtime.
When you’re in the midst of sleep deprivation as you try to get your baby into a routine, the process can feel never-ending. You may wonder whether all this sleep training stress is worth it. Fortunately, with the right help and some perseverance, you can ensure your baby establishes an important life-long skill that creates healthy sleep habits for many years to come.