When your baby arrives in the world, we think of how cute and tiny they are. With their adorable faces and innocent smiles. It is hard to not marvel at the miracle of life. But many parents are not prepared for the lack of sleep and the struggle they may face. The earlier you introduce healthy sleep habits the easier it will be. The older your baby is before you start the more likely you are to get protesting and tears.
There are many different ways to teach your baby how to sleep and success is defined differently for each family. There is no one size fits all approach to baby sleep. Some infants’ sleeping and feeding habits become more consistent and predictable over time and your baby may fall into a fairly predictable pattern, however, if that’s not the case, you can gently encourage your baby’s emerging routine. The most important part of sleep training is finding the method that works best for you and your baby. It depends on what you are comfortable with and how your baby responds to the different techniques.
Before you even think about sleep training your baby make sure you have an;
- Optimal sleep environment – a dark room, white noise and a firm swaddle.
- An age-appropriate routine.
- Regular naps and feeding schedule.
- A consistent bedtime each night and waking time each morning.
You can introduce a feeding and nap schedule and bedtime routine with a predictable wind-down period from 6 weeks of age. This will encourage a predictable pattern which will help their set circadian rhythm and hormones.
Between 4 and 6 months, your baby is most likely ready for sleep training. While all babies are different, most babies at this age are capable of sleeping through the night. For some, this may be a six-hour stretch and for others, it may be 12 hours.
Sleep Training Techniques
The Shush-Pat is a good ‘no cry’ approach to teaching them to sleep with assistance and suitable from 6 weeks to 7 months of age.
Pick Up/Put Down
The pick up/put down approach is suitable for a baby over 3 months. It is reassuring and instils trust that you have not abandoned them, you are there to comfort them while they are learning to fall asleep. You pick them up for 1 minute. The pickup must be a boring pick up. The minute they stop crying put them back down in their cot. Repeat this process until you can see signs that your baby is settling and leave the room.
This is a gentle sleep training method that lets you be a comforting presence as your child learns to put themselves to sleep. This sees you gradually reducing your involvement in your child falling asleep so they stop relying on you and instead learn to fall asleep on her own. You start our right by their side and over a 2week period gradually move further away until you will be able to leave the room.
Spaced soothing is suitable from around 5 months. This is where you gradually teach your child how to fall asleep without your assistance through a series of incremental check-ins. Over time, you increase the amount of time between your check-ins. This allows your child space and time in which to practice falling asleep without using sleep associations.
This is suitable for toddlers aged around 2 years. It is literally you silently returning your child back to bed when they get out of bed or go into your bed. You want these interactions to be as boring as possible – no threatening, no bargaining, no discussing. This will help discourage your child from repeated attempts to engage with you by getting out of bed.
All Sleep Training takes hard work, determination and consistency is your secret weapon!
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