The first thing most new moms get asked about is sleep. But the dark circles gracing your face tell their story!
It is normal for a newborn to feed every couple of hours. It is pretty unrealistic to expect a week old infant to sleep for large stretches of time. For the first few months of your baby’s life, you’ll just need to grin and bear it. But once your baby hits the six-month mark, it is time to sleep train her.
What Is Sleep Training For Babies?
As an infant, waking up multiple times a night to feed is normal. Your little one needs food to grow. But once she is six months old, she doesn’t need night time feeds. Now, most of her night time sojourns is because of habit. Sleep training is all about breaking this habit and helping your baby sleep through the night.
What Is The Right Age Of Training Babies To Sleep?
As mentioned before, the first six months are not conducive for sleep training. But you can begin on a bedtime routine as early as six weeks. Once your baby turns six months old, you can plan your sleep training approach. But even before you start, make sure your baby does not have a medical condition. If your baby is having trouble gaining weight, talk to your pediatrician before you begin.
Most Popular Sleep Training Methods:
There is a mommy war raging to decide the best sleep training method. But the fact remains that there is no ‘best’ option. Each baby, each family is different. And the sleep training method you adopt should depend on your baby’s needs and temperament. Here are the most popular sleep training methods for babies you can consider:
1. The Cry It Out (CIO) Method:
Cry It Out is the most controversial sleep training method around. Proponents of this method argue that it is okay to let your baby cry. The cry it out method is tough on both parents and babies. But it seems to work. Hundreds of happy mothers are proof of that! The best part about the CIO method is that it teaches your baby to self-soothe. This is a valuable lesson that will give your baby a healthy sleeping habit.
- Put your baby down to sleep, drowsy but not asleep.
- Allow for crying bouts with moments of comforting.
- You should not pick up your baby while she is in the crib.
- Just comfort her for a while and walk out of the room.
- The crying spells will shorten with time until your baby learns to fall asleep without any external help.
2. The No Tears Method:
Developed by William Sears, a popular attachment parenting advocate, the No Tears method of sleep training believes in comforting your baby each time she cries. This particular method argues that letting your baby cry it out can leave a lasting, negative impact on her.
- Make sure your baby is eating plenty during the day. This will teach her that daytime is for eating and night time for sleeping.
- Create a bedtime schedule that works for you.
- Stick to the schedule, no matter what.
- Use some specific word to signal bedtime. Use the word to teach your baby that it’s time to sleep. You can even use the word when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night.
- Don’t respond to every sound your baby makes. Comfort her only when she is awake and crying. A sleepy whimper does not warrant comforting.
There are many variations to these basic baby sleep training techniques. You can even combine the two to create a method that’s perfect for you.
7 Simple Tips For Sleep Training Your Baby:
No matter the approach you decide to follow, there are some basic steps you need to imbibe to help your baby sleep better.
1. Set A Schedule:
This is a must. Remember, babies need schedule to thrive. If you have picked 7 pm as bedtime, stick to it. Also, babies prefer early bedtime. A 10 pm bedtime may be perfect for you but may not be what your baby needs. It won’t be easy, and you’ll have to make sacrifices. But the result will be well worth the effort.
2. Take It Slow:
Don’t rush it. If your baby goes to sleep at 10 don’t suddenly expect her to fall asleep at 7. Change the bedtime slowly.
3. Make A Note Of It:
Jot down your baby’s sleep schedule. When does she nap, for how many hours, when is she fussy – the answer to your night time struggles lie within these questions.
4. Don’t Go On A Guilt Trip:
Sleep training can seem cruel. But don’t guilt yourself. Yes, you need your baby to sleep through the night to stay sane. But your baby too needs a consistent sleeping pattern to be healthy.
5. Don’t Shy Away From Baby Accessories:
Use a pacifier, blanket, soft toy – anything that will make your baby feel more comfortable and sleep better.
6. Check On Her:
If your baby cries in the middle of the night, check her out. A dirty diaper may well be the cause.
7. Night Time Weaning:
If your baby is still feeding during the night, consider night time weaning. Between 4-6 months, your baby’s need for night time feeds go down. Talk to your doctor about night weaning.
These are wonderful tips and have worked for many families. But don’t be frustrated if your baby just refuses to sleep through the night. Patience is the key to sleep training. Stick to your guns. Slowly your baby will learn to sleep for longer stretches of time without waking up for comfort. In fact, soon you’ll be missing your midnight cuddles!
Do you believe in baby sleep training? Did you adopt a particular method? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.