Sleep Training: An Approach to help your baby sleep through the night?
Are you struggling with endless nights of interrupted sleep because your baby can’t fall asleep independently? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Sleep training is a lifesaver for many parents, helping babies learn to sleep longer stretches, maybe even sleep through the night and giving you the well-deserved rest you need.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn about various sleep training methods, how to prepare for sleep training, and tips for dealing with common sleep training issues. So let’s dive into the world of sleep training and help you and your baby achieve a good night’s sleep!
- Sleep training is a process of teaching babies to fall asleep independently.
- When your baby shows signs of irregular sleep patterns, it’s time to look into sleep training methods or working with a sleep consultant
- For older babies & toddlers, consistency in bedtime routines as well as the appropriate daytime sleep and the right sleep training method are key!
Understanding Sleep Training
Sleep training is an important part of helping your baby learn how to fall asleep on their own. This means that they no longer require any help or comfort from you to do so. The objective is to encourage your baby to fall asleep independently at bedtime and/or during their middle of the night wakings. This allows them to learn to self-soothe and return to sleep without needing assistance. Sleep training can be a game-changer for both babies and parents, as babies will be able to sleep for longer periods, giving parents some much-needed restful nights and reducing stress on the whole family.
Starting sleep training usually happens around the age of 5-6 months, as your baby is more capable of developing a sleep schedule and learning the skill of falling asleep independently. There are several sleep training methods available, each tailored to suit different parenting styles and baby’s needs. Some common methods include gentle sleep training, gradual extinction techniques, and full extinction techniques like Cry It Out.
It’s crucial to choose a sleep training method that works best for your family and stick with it consistently. Consistency is the secret to successfully sleep training babies. If you need some structure to help you do this, our gentle sleep training method Comforting Through Change™, which is highly-proven and successful, can be found in our budget-friendly Online Sleep Plan.
Signs Your Baby is Ready for Sleep Training
Before you begin sleep training, it’s essential to recognize the signs that your baby is ready for it. Newborns don’t have a sense of day or night yet, so they aren’t able to keep to a sleep schedule or learn the skill of falling asleep independently. Some experts suggest waiting until your baby is around 4 months old before starting sleep training. We personally recommend not starting before 5 months.
Signs that your baby is sleep trained include having a regular sleep-wake cycle, being able to sleep for longer periods at night, and not needing to be rocked to sleep. To help your baby learn to self-soothe, it’s recommended to start sleep training by putting them down in their sleep space when they’re still awake.
If your baby is showing these signs, it’s time to start thinking about the sleep training method that will work best for your family. Remember, the goal is to help your baby fall asleep independently and sleep through the night, giving both you and your baby a well-deserved good night’s sleep.
Preparing for Sleep Training
Before diving into baby sleep training, it’s essential to lay the groundwork for success. Begin by establishing a consistent bedtime routine as early as a few weeks old. Activities such as having a bath, giving your baby a massage, singing, reading, and cuddling are all great options to include in their bedtime routine. A soothing bedtime routine will make sleep training easier down the line and help avoid any sleeping issues.
Ensure your baby sleeps safely by always placing them in their crib on their back and keeping their cot free of anything. It’s recommended to share a room with your baby for the first six months. Discuss sleep training with your partner to ensure you’re both on the same page and dedicated to the process. If you have different ideas about sleep training, it’s important to create a consistent bedtime routine that works for both of you.
Having a predictable daytime schedule can also help your baby feel more relaxed and secure, making it easier for them to settle down for sleep. By preparing well for sleep training, you’re setting yourself and your baby up for success in achieving a good night’s sleep.
Popular Sleep Training Methods
As you venture into the world of sleep training, you’ll come across various methods to choose from. Each method is designed to suit different parenting styles and your baby’s needs. Some of the most popular sleep training methods include gentle sleep training, gradual extinction techniques, and full extinction techniques, all of which can be considered as a sleep training technique.
In the following sections, we’ll explore each of these methods in more detail to help you find the best fit for your family. Remember, the key to successful sleep training is finding a method that works for you and sticking to it consistently.
Gentle Sleep Training Techniques
Gentle sleep training is a supportive approach that focuses on comforting and soothing your baby without leaving them. Parents provide comfort to their baby to help them fall asleep and give reassurance when they wake up. Examples of gentle sleep training methods include the Pick Up Put Down method, the Fading method, and the Wave method.
The Pick-Up-Put-Down method involves taking the baby out of the crib to soothe them and then putting them back in until they drift off to sleep. Our Comforting Through Change™ method, on the other hand, involves parents staying in their child’s room until they fall asleep and then gradually moving further away over a period of 10-12 nights until you achieve fully independent self-settle.
To make gentle sleep training more effective, keep interactions brief and calm, then leave the room as soon as the baby settles. Remember, the goal is to help your baby develop independent sleep skills and learn to self-soothe without relying on you to comfort them.
Gradual Extinction Techniques
Gradual extinction techniques involve allowing your baby to cry for increasing intervals before offering comfort. Two examples of gradual extinction techniques are the Ferber method and the Check and Console method. The Ferber method, created by pediatrician Richard Ferber, involves gradually increasing the amount of time you let your baby cry before returning to the room, eventually reaching a point where the baby can soothe themselves.
The Check and Console method is similar to the Ferber method but involves leaving the room for a minute or two, then coming back in to give your baby some reassurance, like telling them they love them or giving them a soft pat. The intervals gradually increase to about 15 minutes, until the baby falls asleep.
It’s important to monitor your baby’s reactions when using these methods, as checking in may get them more worked up and make them even more distressed when you leave the room. The key to success with gradual extinction techniques is consistency and patience.
Full Extinction Techniques
Full extinction techniques, like the cry-it-out (CIO) method, involve letting your baby cry until they fall asleep without intervening. This method can be effective but may be challenging for some parents who find it emotionally difficult to let their baby cry.
Studies on full extinction techniques have not indicated any long-term negative effects on the child – such as emotional, stress, behavioral or attachment issues. This implies that this method may be deemed more acceptable despite its seemingly harsh nature. The key to success with full extinction techniques is consistency and a strong commitment to the method.
If you find that the cry-it-out method isn’t suitable for your family, consider trying a gentler sleep training method or seeking advice from a sleep consultant. Remember, the goal of sleep training is to help your baby develop independent sleep skills and achieve a good night’s sleep.
Implementing Sleep Training Consistently
Consistency is key when it comes to sleep training. To ensure successful sleep training, stick to your chosen sleep training method, maintain a bedtime routine, and track your baby’s progress. A consistent bedtime routine helps your baby feel more relaxed and secure, making it easier for them to settle down for sleep.
Keep a sleep log to track your baby’s progress and note any changes in their sleep patterns. Record the time your baby goes to bed, when they wake up, and any nighttime stirrings. Review your sleep log every few days to keep tabs on your little one’s development.
If your baby is having trouble adjusting to sleep training or if you’re struggling with consistency, consult a sleep consultant. Remember, the goal is to help your baby achieve a peaceful night’s sleep, and consistency is key to making that happen.
In saying this, sometimes the method you have chosen isn’t right for your baby. We would always recommend you giving it 3-5 nights before making that decision.
Troubleshooting Common Sleep Training Issues
It’s not uncommon to face some challenges during sleep training. Issues such as illness, teething, growth spurts, and separation anxiety can all disrupt the sleep training process. Separation anxiety, a normal part of a child’s development, can make sleep training more difficult as your baby may become clingy and cry when you leave the room.
To tackle these common sleep training issues, be more flexible with your sleep training methods and show patience and understanding. If your little one is feeling under the weather, getting new teeth, or having a hard time with separation, it might be a good idea to take a break from sleep training and try again later.
Remember, sleep training is a process, and it’s essential to be patient and persistent. Ensure that you’re consistently implementing your chosen sleep training method and making adjustments as needed to address any issues that arise.
The Role of Sleep Consultants
Sleep consultants are professionals who can offer assistance and support for families having difficulty with sleep training. They can provide tailored advice and help to address specific sleep training challenges, but not all families may need their services.
If you’re struggling with sleep training or unsure which method to choose, consider consulting a sleep consultant. They can provide guidance and support to help you and your baby achieve a peaceful night’s sleep.
You can reach out to us specifially here.
Sleep Training Older Babies and Toddlers
Sleep training is possible for babies at any stage, even as they become toddlers. It can be a great help to parents struggling to cope with difficult bedtime routines. Techniques such as the Pick Up Put Down and Ferber methods can be suitable for toddlers. However, they can be heaver and more knowing, so these might not be right methods. We find our method or the chair method are more suitable for sleep training toddlers as it requires more patience and consistency, as they may have stronger sleep associations and habits to overcome.
Ensuring Safe Sleep Practices
Throughout the sleep training process, it’s crucial to ensure safe sleep practices for your baby. Share a room with your baby for the first six months. This helps reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and promotes a safe sleep environment for your baby.
Babies should sleep on a firm, flat surface like a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet. Always lay your baby on their back to sleep.
In conclusion, sleep training is an essential tool for teaching your baby to fall asleep independently and sleep through the night. By understanding the different sleep training methods, preparing for sleep training, and addressing common issues, you can help your baby develop healthy sleep habits that will benefit both of you. Remember, consistency and patience are key to success in sleep training. With the right approach and support, you and your baby can enjoy many peaceful nights of restful sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions
What age should you sleep train a baby?
Experts recommend starting sleep training when your baby is around 4-6 months old, though we don’t start before 5 months because of the 4 month sleep regression.
At this age, babies are more likely to be able to sleep through the night and establish a regular sleep schedule. This can be beneficial for both the baby and the parents, as it can help reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing.
What is the best method to sleep train a baby?
We are biased by we think our method Comforting Through Change™ is the best as it’s room-based, supportive, logical and most importantly, it works!
© The Mummy & Daddy Sleep Consultant® 2024
Images by Estelle Thompson Photography
Company Name: The Daddy Sleep Consultant Ltd
Company Number: 13226982
2 Lakeview Stables/St. Clere, Sevenoaks TN15 6NL