Play & Learn
Sleep Training 101: Info, Tips, and Tricks for Every Mama
Babies are a godsend, and every parent knows what an absolute blessing these bundles of joy are. But, with this gift comes the possible struggle of having them sleep through the night. So, mama, do your little ones require your rocking while they sleep, or do they wake up in the middle of the night crying out for a breast, bottle, or snuggle before falling back asleep? Then it could be time to begin sleep training them.
When a baby reaches four (4) months, they should be able to soothe themselves to sleep or fall asleep again on their own. If they don’t or if they can’t, we can’t blame you for giving in to the urge to soothe them and helping them fall back asleep. But, this is something they need to learn for themselves.
So, if you're dreading sleep training, remember that it's frequently completed more quickly than most parents anticipate, and it doesn't even always require a lot of crying or struggle! Try not to worry about the ifs and buts for our team at edamama has come up with some tips and tricks to get you and your baby started on sleep training, as well as some information you should know before beginning. Read on to find out more!
What Is It?
Your little ones will learn to fall asleep on their own with sleep training. This means that your baby is placed to sleep when still groggy but awake and drifts off without being rocked, swayed, snuggled, fed, or otherwise quieted.
Additionally, this teaches infants how to go back to sleep when they unavoidably wake up during the night.
Now, you have to remember that night weaning and sleep training don't always go hand in hand. Depending on their age and stage, you can still feed your baby once or even twice over the night. Find out from your pediatrician when it's time to completely stop feeding your baby at night.
That’s just one example of how sleep training is not as painful as it may seem. It doesn't always include locking the nursery door and leaving the infant to scream all night. In reality, you can choose how much crying your little one experiences before offering them a calming song or a soothing back rub.
When to Do it?
Sleep training is not actually appropriate until a baby is about 4-6 months old. That’s because they haven't yet acquired the circadian rhythms that will enable them to sleep through the night before that period of time. Before four (4) months, you can expect that they’re still getting used to being rocked to sleep and are still learning skills like sleeping on their own at this age.
Knowing whether your little one is ready for sleep training can be challenging. However, your child is most likely prepared if they begin to go to sleep at night on their own, and this is true even if they wake up periodically.
Check and console (Ferber Method)
There are actually many variations to this method but the principle remains the same no matter the variation: you should keep checking on your babies at regular intervals, but you shouldn't feed or rock them to sleep because it would indicate they aren't allowing themselves to fall back asleep on their own.
After going through your bedtime routine, put your baby in their crib, leave the room and wait a specific amount of time (say, a minute). Then go in and reassure your baby with words like “Mommy loves you” or some kind of touch, such as a rub or pat. McGinn says it’s preferable not to pick the baby up. Garden, on the other hand, reserves this method for babies seven months and older. (In her opinion, younger babies require a parental presence so they know they haven’t been abandoned, especially if they’ve worked themselves up into a frenzy.)
Continue to leave and then check on them, increasing the amount of time between visits until you’ve reached about 10 or 15 minutes, and then just keep at it until they fall asleep. When they wake up, you start the check-and-console intervals all over again.
Cry it out
The reasoning behind this is that by choosing not to react, you want to put an end to the behavior (weeping). Go through your bedtime ritual, place them in their crib awake, say good night, and then go, just like with the check-and-console technique. Even sleep experts vary on what to do next after using this form of sleep training because it depends on your baby's developmental stage.
Because of the general concern about how much crying will be involved, parents are frequently hesitant to take this approach. Nevertheless, despite the tears, experts claim that by night three or four, using this strategy, you should notice a noticeable difference. However, they add that it's crucial to give it a week before concluding that it is ineffective.
This is a highly slow sleep-training technique that calls for strict parental control, and one that experts tend to tell parents to allow a two-week implementation plan.
Like other methods, you get your child ready for bed, but this time, you stay in the room and sit next to the crib rather than leaving. Leave the room when they go to sleep, but when they wake up, sit back down on the chair till they do so again. Move the chair farther away every few nights until you are no longer in the room.
Pick up, put down, shush-pat
Some experts prefer a method in which you remain in the room without providing your babies with much support in falling asleep, especially for babies under the age of seven months. To relax and reassure them, you could, for instance, stand over their crib and soothe them, touch their stomach, or exert pressure.
Another choice is to allow them to fuss for a while, but when their tantrums intensify, take them up to calm them down but put them back down before they nod off.
Bedtime routine fading
Continue to rock or nurse your infant as usual while employing the fading strategy but cut back on the time you spend doing so until, theoretically, you don't need to. Although this is a fantastic method for reducing crying, many parents find it challenging to maintain. You can think of this approach as having an "end in sight."
It may be difficult at first, but if you’re willing to stick to the plan and get your baby to the end goal of going to bed without your assistance, experts say it’s worth a try.
Things to Keep In Mind
No matter what routine or variation you end up choosing for your baby, you should know that they take time and a lot of effort. Oftentimes, it can be a trial-and-error situation before you find the right method for you.
But, try not to be discouraged if what you’re doing doesn’t show immediate results. Instead, try to keep these thoughts in mind:
- Sleep training is a tool you can use as your child’s routine changes, which means you can change it accordingly.
- Allow your baby to self-soothe. It’s hard at first but it will be worth all the struggle.
- Learn to give you and your baby space. By separating yourself from your little one, you allow them to learn how to lull themselves back to sleep on their own.
- Stick to a consistent bedtime routine or schedule.
- There will be some tough nights but these are okay and you will get through them.
- You will be successful. It may take some time to figure out which routine or method works best and it may get a little frustrating, especially since you’ll lack sleep, but it will be worth it in the end when you finally get your baby used to sleep training.
Initially, sleep training is frequently difficult for both you and your infant. But with patience, persistence, and a little bit of luck, you'll soon be able to sleep soundly, and your little one will have acquired the crucial life skill of being able to fall asleep and remain asleep all by themselves.