Does your baby require to be lulled to sleep or wake up every midnight demanding cuddles or maybe a bottle before continuing the sleep again? In case your baby is not more than four months, it is the right time to kick start sleep training.
Putting the baby to sleep is tough, but you can encourage healthy sleep habits through different fruitful ways. Sleep training method helps your baby learn to fall asleep and keep sleeping. It teaches your baby to sleep without any help. With proper training, they are likely to get better sleep.
Once your baby is 4 to 6 months old, you can start training, but the key is to be consistent and try one method at least for one week.
There is lots of information regarding sleep training leaving the guardians confused, frustrated, and struggling to find ways to do it. Hence, in this guide, we have discussed all the facts from mothers and sleep consultants to elaborate on what sleep training is and how to do it correctly. Let’s explore!
What is Sleep Training?
These are the methods of helping the child learn to help by himself and keep sleeping all night without getting comforted by you. The main aim of the sleep strategies and method is to assist your baby in learning to help himself and self-soothe when they are out of bed or may wake up at midnight.
Some babies are efficient in learning. Others might cause trouble settling down to sleep when awakened and require help along the way. As waking up at night is a common part of the sleep cycle, you must induce good sleep habits at night.
When to Start Sleep Training?
Early or too late, both conditions cause trouble for you and your child. Babies are not ready for sleep training until they are 4 to 6 months old. Before four months, they have not developed a circadian rhythm. It is the rhythm that helps sleep during the night. At this age, they develop habits quickly, such as sleeping independently, because they are still not too used to being rocked to sleep.
Six months is the generally agreed time which is considered ideal to begin sleep training. However, starting the training at the age of 4 months is not too early, and nine months are not too late. Nine months can be better for some babies as they do not need to eat during the night.
However, it can be challenging to figure out if your baby is ready for sleep training or not. If your baby begins to fall asleep on its own at night, it means they are ready.
Similarly, there is no fixed right age to start training. Sometimes you do not have to sleep to train your baby. They eventually learn to sleep on their own. Anyhow, this training has notable benefits for both babies and guardians with no potential side effects.
Sleep Training Methods
New mothers utilize different methods to train their babies for healthy sleeping, and all of them can be effective. The success rate of strategy depends on what you and your baby are most comfortable with.
Cry It Out
This method is known as extinction, full extinction, and CIO shortly. In this method, the parents take their babies through the bedtime routine, play with them, cuddle them, give them a good night’s sleep kiss, and leave the baby’s room. If the baby cries alone in the room and the parent does not respond, they eventually learn to stop crying, self-soothe, and sleep.
This is the most famous practice and notorious as well. Many parents feel uncomfortable leaving their babies crying out and not comforting them. They worry that it can make a baby stressed, which results in trauma and lead the child to think that they cannot depend on their mother and father to help them in hours of need. Moreover, it is very difficult for many parents to see their baby cry and not be able to help them.
Conversely, the advocates of this method claim that it is very effective and actually works. According to research, many people have given optimal responses after practicing this method.
This method is almost similar to extinction, but a bit slower. Therefore, it is also known as “graduated extinction,” “progressive waiting,” and the interval method.
To practice this method, parents follow a similar routine of taking their baby through bedtime rituals. Cuddling and kissing them at midnight. Then they leave the room after shutting the door. For the first few nights, the parent keeps returning as the baby cries. They pat them and calm them down before leaving the room.
After a few nights, the parents are directed to reduce the time of the baby’s cry before going to soothe them. This method is functional for parents who are uncomfortable with leaving their baby to cry. However, some parents still consider this method terrifying to their children.
The studies of the Ferber method have shown no prominent evidence of prolonged negative impact on the baby’s emotions, stress, and behavior, as well as attachment to the parents.
This is another functional method that especially targets the bit-grown-up babies and is expected to feel more relaxed to you as compared to extinction or Ferber. It allows you to sit next to your baby’s crib until he feels a peel without cuddling or picking up.
Gradually, keep your chair pushing back. Keep going farther every night until you get out of the room. Eventually, the time will come when your baby will be able to sleep without you around. Anyhow, this strategy is not successful for many babies that cannot forget you until you are out of their sight.
This method is ideal for the people who know this practice and may make your baby shed some tears.
Bedtime Fading method
Do your babies wait for a long time before going back to sleep? It implies his body is not ready for sleeping at your desired time. With the help of the method of bedtime fading, you can change your circadian rhythm and decide the bedtime according to your choice.
Here is how you can apply the bedtime fading method:
- As your baby looks overtired, make him lay on the bed immediately.
- Carefully check and understand the baby’s sleep cues, such as yawning, eye rubbing, fussiness, and more.
- He will be falling asleep, but if he does not, or keeps crying, take him out of bed for a particular period and try again after a while.
- After putting him to sleep for some night at a particular time, change the bedtime 15 minutes earlier, and you need to keep practicing the process the same way with this changed time.
- Slowly, move to keep changing the bedtime earlier until you reach the set goal.
- This method also sometimes describes the strategy involved in reducing the presence of parents in the baby’s room while making him lie down to sleep.
Pick Up, Put Down Method
This strategy compels you to check through the daily bedtime routine of your baby and then put him down to a bed when he is drowsy but awake. Whenever and if he starts shedding tears, wait for a while to see if he calms himself down or not. If not, go in the room, pick him up and cuddle to soothe him. When he is calm and sleepy, let him sit in the crib again.
You must repeat the method or strategy until your baby completely falling asleep. However, you need to remember that this sleep training strategy consumes a lot of time, is lengthy, and demands a lot of patience.
How Long does Sleep Training Take?
There is a different timeline for every method. After a few nights of practicing the Ferber or crying it out strategy, most babies learn to sleep quickly. However, other methods such as fading, chair, and pick up and put down are expected to consume a long time.
However, some methods do not work for babies, and they can consume even longer time. You need to be consistent with the method you have selected and give it two full weeks to determine if it works or not.
Tips for Sleep Training
Regardless of the method, you are trying, incorporating some useful tips can increase the success rate and boost the process. Follow these steps for a smooth transfer to ideal sleep time.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Consistent bedtime routine is the key. Follow the regular and continuous 30 to 45 minutes sleep routine to assist your baby in shifting playing time to sleepy time. You need to begin early, so the baby does not get overtired before you finish.
If your baby sleeps during day or nighttime feedings or eating, schedule that feeding time before the book or bath so you can put him to bed when he is awakened.
Time it Right
Find the right time to start sleep training. It is not the right time to try to change the baby’s sleep cycle when there is a significant change or interruption in the life, such as a new nanny, ear infection, traveling, etc. Wait till he returns to normal life before kick-starting the training.
Put Baby Down Awake
This training basically aims to help babies understand and grab the habit of falling asleep on their own. It will not work if you rock them before putting them into the crib. Hence, put the baby into the crib instead of playing because he will learn to be rocked and then sleep.
Know When Baby is Sleepy
Pay attention to the cues of sleep, such as rubbing eyes, yawning, or irritation that may happen at the same time every day and night. It is essential to let the baby sleep when he is feeling sleepy but not when he is tired. Overtired babies are difficult to handle and settle down to sleep.
Keep Night-Time Interaction Brief
Keep the check on your baby quietly, calmly, but quickly. You can check diapers and position or feed them but avoid over-stimulation.
Delay your Response Time
When your baby starts crying, do not rush to the room. Sometimes, babies make so much noise at night and eventually fall asleep on their own. Responding to every minor whim may wake up the baby or discourage his effort to soothe.
The babies learn so efficiently they can even observe your emotions and pick them up if you feel confident throughout the sleep training process. You are likely to feel more confident and respond accordingly.
Optimal Lights for Optimal Sleep
Lights are powerful biological signals. The daylight compels people to wake up, and the nightlight triggers the brain to release melatonin, making people feel drowsy. Hence, keep the baby’s days bright and nights dark to help understand what is night sleep time.
Here is what you can do to develop light understanding:
- Allow plenty of sunlight to enter the house or take the baby outside. You can also let your baby sleep for daytime naps in the bright room.
- To trigger nighttime sleepiness, you are suggested to install relaxing and dim lights in the room baby and other rooms.
- It is totally fine to induce dim light in a toddler’s room, but make sure to select the dim one that is cool and soothing to the touch.
Inducing different lights at different times during the day will help many babies comprehend sleep and awake time.
Benefits of Sleep Training
The training and special methods involved in crying can be challenging not only for babies but for parents as well. However, their potential and quick benefits are always worth the struggle.
Here are some of the notable benefits of successful sleep training:
- Wake less time during the night.
- Get better quality sleep.
- Consume relatively less time to fall asleep.
- They learn to sleep back by themselves when they do wake up.
- At the same time, the parents can:
- Sleep more
- Stay in a better mood with fewer mood swings
- Get a better quality of sleep.
They get to encourage secure attachment with their babies. Moreover, some researchers have proven that the baby-parent bond improves after successful sleep training.
Do I Have to Try Baby Sleep Training to Help them Fall Asleep?
As there is no thumb rule for practicing sleep training, there is no certain standard that tells if you should do sleep training or not. If you are happy with the things going on, count it as a blessing and keep doing what you are doing.
Every family has different tolerance and expectations from the baby’s sleep training. A year-old baby who wakes up twice a night can drive one or both parents crazy. If your baby’s sleeping habits are not going well for the family, now you know what to do. Even after practicing all methods, the baby face trouble falling asleep to develop a healthy sleep habit, so you may need to consult the doctor and follow the suggested method accordingly.
Here are a few considerations regarding the baby’s nature:
- Some babies are good sleepers by birth, and before making any efforts, they conveniently fit into the sleeping habit everyone is pleased with. On the other hand, some kids are naturally wakeful and require a more structured and nurturing pattern to help them develop good sleep habits.
- Every child sleep is different, even brothers and sisters. Hence, the strategies for optimal sleep with great success to be effective for one kid may not work for the other one. You have to understand every child’s behavior and react plan accordingly.
- Sometimes, using common sense is also beneficial. Families also develop methods to help their children develop a good night’s sleep cycle. If your drafted methods work, continue it.
- No one, even adults, does not sleep at night without waking. Everyone has different cycles that involve periods of deep sleep and the time of lighter sleep. Some people wake up throughout the night occasionally. Hence, no need to expect your child to sleep soundly even after training.
- Once the sleep training is over, you can expect your child to wake up at night and regress occasionally. For instance, the sleep cycle gets disturbed when they fall sick and when traveling. Sleep regression is usual in babies as well as toddlers. This situation may require another round of sleep training.
How Do Bedtime Routines Fit into Sleep Training?
The bedtime routine represents a major element in every sleep training method. They result in a sense of consistency for the children, which makes them feel safer to sleep. The babies also have no sense of night and day in their childhood, and bedtime routines can assist them in differentiating between these two.
By following these activities and strategies every night, your brain can help you determine it is time to go to bed, even if your mind is quiet and calm. For best babies sleep, bedtime routines include activities such as brushing teeth, bathing, reading a story, singing, or saying goodnight.
While sleep training the baby, remember that getting your baby to sleep through the night is not the test to measure parenting skills. You need to take time to comprehend your baby’s habits and ways to communicate so you can assist them in getting quality sleep and developing a perfect sleep cycle.
Sleeping habits and the effect of strategies vary from baby to baby. So, if you cannot figure out a functional practice for your baby to get falling asleep at time, you need to consult your doctor. It is not like sickness, but they can suggest better solutions.
Is it ever too late to sleep on the train?
Once your baby is four months old, you may need to start sleep training. However, if the baby is more than six months old, people wonder if it is too late to start sleep training. So, the answer is no. It is never too late in training your baby.
Many parents wait to begin sleep training, hoping their children will just grow out of being bad sleepers. Luckily, there is no age limit for sleep training. It can be done at any age – from childhood to toddler age.
How do I know if my baby need good night’s sleep training?
It is always a mystery for new parents to differentiate between sleeping or overtired behavior. If your baby is constantly overtired and cranky, perhaps it is the right time to help them become a better sleeper.
Healthy sleeping is essential for your baby and you. If you are not sleeping, it is possible that you are also not sleeping. This kind of deprivation is linked to obesity, learning issues, and behavioral problems at a later age.
Therefore, assisting and developing healthy sleeping habits right from the start is crucial. It will make the sleep training quite easier and majorly keeps you and the baby fresh and energetic.
How can I make sure sleep training is successful?
If you are following the sleeping routine and strategies that your friend follows for her child, you cannot expect optimal outcomes. Infant sleeping routine looks a bit different from family to family. Depending on the method you are practicing.
Like different babies, different methods require different tactics for a high success rate. Here you can do one thing: take notes. Keeping a record of your baby’s changed behavior and how your baby has progressed throughout the process will be helpful when you are too tired to recall how long they slept last night.
How do you sleep train a 1-year-old?
As you know, it is never too late to train your baby; you can still practice the strategies to continue healthy habits. According to many researchers, only 20% of children can continue waking up in the middle of the night. However, sleep training aims to let your child fall asleep on their own at any stage and anytime.
The toddlers’ parents must focus more on consistency and setting the exact time limits. According to sleep professionals, the Ferber or pick up, put down method is most effective. However, to ensure successful training, make your child nap once or twice a day and have bedtime at around 7 Pm. Keep the morning nap time not longer than 30 minutes.
Can you sleep train a newborn?
No, sleep training a newborn baby is impossible because they also need to be fed at night. They generally need to be fed 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. Moreover, experts suggest feeding the baby when they show signs of hunger.
Apart from that requirement, the newborn has no sense of night and day in the first few months, so they cannot stick to a single routine.
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