There’s nothing more angelic than a peacefully sleeping baby. But all moms know how hard it is to get a new-born to sleep.
Baby Sleep Training: What, When, How?
- Sleep training is the process of teaching your baby how to fall asleep without help from you. Sleep training can help your baby lengthen naps and sleep through the night.
- You can begin “formal” sleep training when your baby is 4-6 months old.
- There are a variety of sleep training methods you can try; some involve crying, while others are low-cry or no-cry.
Baby Sleep Training: Sleep Associations
When you help your baby fall asleep at bedtime, or fall back to sleep after waking at night, your baby comes to associate the things you do with sleep – and he forms sleep associations. Sleep associations are not necessarily bad; for instance, a pacifier or a lovey can be a really useful sleep association. But any sleep associations that involve you (for example, nursing to sleep, or being rocked to sleep) may be difficult for you to sustain long-term, and they will likely prolong your baby’s nighttime waking and short naps. However, if your baby knows how to fall asleep without your help, then he can fall back to sleep when he wakes at night, or wakes too early from a nap – and this is a big step towards sleeping through the night!
Do You Have to Let Your Baby Cry It Out When Sleep Training?
One common misconception about sleep training babies is that there’s only one way to do it. But this could not be further from the truth! In reality, there are a number of ways parents can work to help their babies develop healthy sleep habits, stop waking up in the middle of the night, and stop taking short naps. The idea is to get your baby to fall asleep on their own and self-soothe.
Here’s an overview of some sleep training basics.
First, an easy way to start sleep training is to develop a consistent bedtime and naptime routine. You’ll also want to establish your sleep training plan and choose a sleep training method. Some sleep training methods and techniques involve crying, but others involve little to no tears and can be very gentle. No matter which method you use, the key to successful sleep training is consistency. Sleep training or sleep coaching is NOT bad for babies. It simply helps your baby learn to sleep more independently. Of course, they are babies, so they will need you at least some of the time! The key is to have realistic expectations given their current age.
There’s nothing more angelic than a peacefully sleeping baby. But all moms know how hard it is to get a new-born to sleep. Nurses, mothers and people passing by in the hospital have told me my son sleeps like an angel. It’s true – he is a deep sleeper and spends most of his nights peaceful and dreaming. But before you hand out any halos, understand there was nothing “angelic” or spiritual involved with getting him to sleep so beautifully. Angelic has nothing to do with it, just old-fashioned patience, persistence and some trial and error.
There are many sleepless nights ahead of you, but they will pass and then… you will miss them! Within my first 2 weeks of being home from the hospital, I had already found what products worked for us and which products did not live up to their claims. I now use this information to help other new mommies in their pursuit for better sleep!
What is a good age to start sleep training
The best age for sleep training is usually around 4 to 6 months old when your baby is ready to be unswaddled but before they are standing up. It’s never too early or too late to start sleep coaching a baby, however. Each age has its own unique challenges as far as what your baby learns.
I remember one of my friends complaining about her newborn son who couldn’t sleep for more than a few hours a day. While I felt sorry for her, I was secretly happy my baby slept through the night (yes even at 2 months). Fast forward when my baby was a few months old and I found myself in the same situation as my friend – always staying up late to make sure he went to sleep on time and woke up on time. Our newborn was up every two hours during the night and we were exhausted. That’s when I started reading everything I could find on how to train babies to sleep through the night - many books, websites and post-it note sleep charts covered our bedroom walls! After several days, we’d get our 9pm bedtime routine down but then some nights he would wake up at 6am and we’d be right back where we started. Like most moms, I would feel frustrated one minute and guilty the next. Am I not doing something right? Is he getting enough nutrition? Are there any studies on how babies learn to sleep?
I remember well the first time trying to get my son to sleep. I didn’t know anything about sleep, and he wasn’t making it easy for me. The cries and screeching were so loud that I was sure the cops would be called to my house because of the disturbance. The situation only got worse from there as I tried to force him into slumberland. When I tried to give up on ‘cry-it-out’ after two weeks, my husband and mother-in-law told me that it was too late and my son would have psychological problems because of it. I ignored them and continued to let him cry briefly at night until he fell asleep. The results? My son was an angel baby who slept soundly in his own bed with no fussing or crying at all!
How should I sleep train my baby to sleep through the night? You are probably not the only one thinking of this question. As a new parent, it is hard getting used to sleeping with the complete lack of sleep and trying to keep the baby happy and comfortable. One small tip I must share that will help you in sleep training your baby: Swaddling. Swaddling is an old traditional practice of wrapping infants - both baby girls and boys - in blankets or similar cloths so that movement of the baby’s limbs is restricted and your baby will stay calm and have a sound sleep fast. Proper swaddling helps our baby to feel safe and secure as your infant adjusts to life outside. It recreates the environment of our womb and this practice is a great sleep trainer.
You may find this useful: Swaddling: One of the secrets to a happy and calm baby
I am not sure if the title gave away my point of view on this topic, but in case it didn’t let me say it loud and clear: There is no such thing as “correct way” to sleep train your baby. Having children sleep through the night was an achievement that took me years and seemed impossible before I had kids. Now that I have both kids sleeping through the night I am frequently reminded of how precious having a sleeping child really is.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that every baby is different, and no one reputable sleep expert will give you a cookie-cutter method to follow when it comes to getting your baby to fall asleep. Instead, it comes down to trial and error, coupled with some good old fashioned patience. It can be hard to squeeze in all the recommended points, but don’t be afraid to try different things to see what works best. And remember that if something isn’t working, it doesn’t hurt to try something else out. Above all, try various schedules, trust your instincts and do what you feel is right for your baby. After all, they depend on you! Good luck with getting your baby to sleep through the night!
You can also read more about using Teethers for Babies: Why, When and What kind to get.