As new parents, one of the most significant challenges you will face is getting your baby to sleep through the night. Many parents struggle with this issue, but various sleep training methods can help.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of baby sleep training and explore some of the most popular methods used by parents and experts.
Why is Sleep Training Important?
Sleep is crucial for a baby’s growth and development. Infants need an average of 14-17 hours of sleep daily, including naps. However, getting your baby to sleep for extended periods can be challenging.
Sleep training teaches your baby to sleep independently and for longer stretches, allowing you and your baby to get more rest. When your baby learns to self-soothe and sleep through the night, you’ll have more time to focus on other aspects of your life, and your baby will wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated.
When to Start Sleep Training
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some parents start sleep training from day one, while others wait until their baby is a few months old.
Most experts agree that you should wait until your baby is four months old before starting sleep training. At this age, your baby has developed a regular sleep pattern and has started to develop self-soothing techniques.
However, if you’re struggling with severe sleep deprivation and feel comfortable starting earlier, it’s essential to consult with your paediatrician to ensure that your baby is healthy and ready.
Baby Sleep Training Methods
There are various baby sleep training methods, each with advantages and disadvantages. Below, we’ll explore some of the most popular techniques.
The Ferber Method
The Ferber Method, also known as the “cry it out” method, involves putting your baby to sleep while still awake and leaving them to self-soothe. The goal is to teach your baby to fall asleep independently and learn self-soothing techniques.
When using this method, you gradually increase the time you leave your baby to cry before returning to soothe them. For example, you might leave them for three minutes the first night, five minutes the second night, and so on.
While this method can be effective, some parents find it difficult to hear their baby cry and worry that it could cause emotional harm. However, studies have shown that babies who undergo sleep training cry less overall than those who don’t.
The No-Tears Method
The No-Tears Method, also known as the “gentle” method, involves putting your baby to sleep while still awake and gradually reducing the time you spend soothing them. The goal is to teach your baby to fall asleep independently without leaving them to cry.
Using this method, you might spend a few minutes soothing your baby the first night and gradually decrease the time over several nights.
While this method is less stressful for parents, it may take longer for your baby to learn to self-soothe and sleep through the night.
The Pick-Up-Put-Down Method
The Pick-Up-Put-Down Method involves picking up your baby when they cry and soothing them until calm before putting them back to sleep. The goal is to teach your baby to self-soothe and fall asleep independently.
Using this method, you might pick up your baby and soothe them for a few minutes before putting them back to sleep. If they cry again, you’ll pick them up and soothe them, repeating the process until they fall asleep.
While this method can be effective, it requires a lot of patience and can be time-consuming.
The Bedtime Routine Method
The Bedtime Routine Method involves establishing a consistent bedtime routine for your
baby. This routine could include a warm bath, a story, and cuddling. The goal is to establish a calming routine that signals to your baby that it’s time to sleep.
When using this method, it’s essential to keep the routine consistent and avoid stimulating activities before bedtime. The goal is to create a peaceful environment to help your baby relax and fall asleep.
While this method doesn’t involve any specific sleep training techniques, it can be an effective way to help your baby establish healthy sleep habits.
The Chair Method
The Chair Method involves placing a chair next to your baby’s crib and sitting in it until they fall asleep. The goal is to give your baby a sense of security while teaching them to fall asleep independently.
When using this method, you might start by sitting in the chair until your baby falls asleep and gradually move the chair away from the crib for several nights until you’re out of the room.
While this method can be effective, it can be time-consuming and require a lot of patience.
Tips for Success
Regardless of the method you choose, you can do a few things to increase your chances of success.
- Establish a consistent sleep schedule
Babies thrive on routine, so it’s essential to establish a consistent sleep schedule. Try to put your baby down for naps and bedtime at the same time each day to help develop healthy sleep habits.
- Create a calm sleep environment
Creating a calm sleep environment can help your baby relax and fall asleep more easily. Make sure the room is dark, quiet, and calm, and consider using white noise to block out any distracting sounds.
- Be consistent
Consistency is critical when it comes to sleep training. Stick to your chosen method and avoid deviating from the plan, even if returning to old habits is tempting.
- Be patient
Sleep training can take time, so be patient and don’t expect immediate results. Be prepared for setbacks and be willing to adjust your approach if necessary.
- Get support
Sleep training can be challenging, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Consider enlisting the support of a partner, family member, or friend to help you through the process.
As a new parent, you may wonder when the best time to start sleep training your baby is. While there is no set answer to this question, some crucial factors should be considered before you begin.
In this article, we will discuss when to start sleep training, how to determine if your baby is ready, and some of the benefits of sleep training.
When to Start Sleep Training
The ideal time to start sleep training varies from baby to baby. Generally, sleep training is recommended when your baby is around 4-6 months old. At this age, most babies have established a regular sleep pattern and are more capable of sleeping through the night.
However, some babies may be ready to start sleep training earlier, while others may need to wait until they are older. It’s essential to consider your baby’s individual needs and development before starting sleep training.
How to Determine if Your Baby Is Ready
Before starting sleep training, it’s essential to determine if your baby is ready. Some signs that your baby may be ready for sleep training include:
- Your baby is between 4-6 months old. As mentioned earlier, this is an ideal age to start sleep training.
- Your baby has established a consistent sleep pattern. If your baby is waking up at the same time every night, it may be a sign that they are ready to start sleeping through the night.
- Your baby is healthy and gaining weight. Ensuring your baby is healthy and gaining weight before starting sleep training is essential.
- Your baby can self-soothe. If your baby can put themselves to sleep without relying on you to rock or feed them, they may be ready for sleep training.
- Your baby is not going through a significant developmental milestone. If your baby is going through a significant developmental milestone, such as teething, it may be best to wait until they are through it before starting sleep training.
Benefits of Sleep Training
There are several benefits of sleep training for both you and your baby. Some of these benefits include:
- Better sleep for everyone involved. By teaching your baby to sleep through the night, you can also enjoy better sleep and improved mood and behaviour. Babies who get adequate sleep are happier, more alert, and better behaved during the day.
- Increased independence. Sleep training teaches your baby to fall asleep independently, which can lead to increased independence in other areas of their life.
- Increased confidence. As a parent, teaching your baby to sleep through the night can be an empowering experience and increase your confidence as a caregiver.
- Improved physical health. Getting adequate sleep is essential for your baby’s physical health, as it allows their body to rest and rejuvenate.
Baby sleep training can be a challenging and emotional process, but it’s essential to helping your baby establish healthy sleep habits. By choosing a sleep training method that works for you and your baby and following some simple tips for success, you can help your baby learn to sleep independently and enjoy better rest for everyone involved.