Best Way to Sleep Train Your Baby
There comes a point in life when as a parent, putting your baby down to sleep is difficult and hard, especially when they are crying. If you are like most parents, this idea your baby crying at bedtime or for a nap, is heartbreaking… it might be time that you look for the best way to sleep train your baby without the tears.
Establishing a bedtime routine is key. It cues the child that it is time to sleep for the night. You also need to create short nap routines. Forming the best nap routines is essential to give your baby some time to transition from the busy and playful day to a quiet and calming environment that is designed for him or her to sleep.
It is also paramount to understand that families have unique dynamics and routines and that choosing the best way to sleep train your baby is important and different for each family. I recommend you don’t compare yourself and your child’s sleeping patterns with other families, because each family is not the same.
Everyone will have different advice to give you when it comes to parenting. This is similar when it comes to your child’s sleep! The techniques used to make your baby fall asleep will be different because your baby is unique! It doesn’t mean that the sleep training method that worked for your friend will work for you.
This is why hiring a sleep coach is helpful. We are here to assess your situation, address your sleep concerns and change your routine as your baby progresses with his sleep journey.
When To start Sleep Training
Most sleep training experts would recommend that parents start sleep coaching their babies between the age of 4 to 6 months. They most likely have the capacity to self-soothe and to sleep for longer periods of time. That being said, feeding your baby at night should be a priority, so ask your pediatrician if your baby is ready to start sleep coaching! If you get the green light from your doctor, call me and I will be more than happy to help you reach your sleeping goals.
Keep in mind that every child is different. Some tend to be fast learners while others may not be ready to start using sleep training techniques, until they’ve reached a certain age. It is never too late though! The sleep training method (1) will be different obviously; we would not use the same tools to help a baby, as we would to help a toddler! So yes, the method chosen will vary but the end goal is the same; helping your little one to get a good night of sleep and restful naps.
What to do before sleep training your child (2)
1-Keep your room dark
I also suggest to use blackout curtains, to create a dark environment for your little child. Especially if your baby is an early riser, or if she/he has a hard time napping. If your children see a slight ray of light at 5am-5:30am, it can be enough for them to wake up for the day! If they have been waking up at that time for days and weeks, it will be difficult to change this habit. Because of their circadian rhythm, the internal clock, they are used to waking up at that time. To help you understand that concept, here is an example you can probably relay to. If you are usually getting up at 7am in the morning and I ask you to wake up at 8 or 9am, you would have a hard time. You could stay in bed, but you would roll and turn until 9am. It would not be restorative sleep! This is the same for babies. If they are used to getting up at 5am, it will be very difficult to wake up later. And we all know that getting up at 5am is extremely difficult! Soooo, keep your room dark!!!
2-Talk to your pediatrician
Visit your pediatrician to rule out any medical conditions and certain underlying conditions that can affect your child’s sleep. Such conditions like sleep apnea, where your child stops breathing while sleeping, need to be addressed immediately. Addressing these sleep conditions and finding a treatment is important not only for their health but also important for sleep training and helping them to learn how to fall asleep on their own. You can resume your sleep training program after confirming that the underlying conditions are under control.
3-Routine, routine, routine (3)
Consistency is key when it comes to sleep training and maintaining predictable results, which helps minimize the tears from baby and parent! A lot of parents are at their wits end, cannot deal with crying anymore and are in need of a sleep coach. I totally understand, we don’t like to hear our little ones cry because they are struggling with sleep. I highly suggest to reach out to a sleep professional who will design a personalized plan to meet your child’s needs.
That being said, following a plan and a routine will help your baby and the whole family sleep better and have a more relaxing and predictable lifestyle. Write a sleep log and come up with a nap routine, and a bedtime routine. Try to find your child’s sleeping windows, when he/she is showing signs of being tired, and put your baby down at the same time everyday. This alone will help their sleep patterns tremendously.
4-Don’t rush in the room
It’s normal to take 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you put your head on the pillow and fall asleep right away, you were exhausted and you didn’t have to put yourself down to sleep. You were overtired and crashed on your bed! In normal circumstances, you would need few minutes to fall asleep. It is the same for our babies. They need a few minutes to soothe themselves to sleep. If we go in to check on them and they were on the verge of falling asleep, they would probably be very upset. If they could talk they would probably say: “Hey, why are you here? I was just about to fall asleep!” I understand, as parents we want to check on our little ones to make sure they are ok. But I suggest you wait a little bit before intervening, to let them find their own way to fall asleep, to self-soothe. If you go in too soon, they are not being given the opportunity to learn.
Be patient! Think about your own sleep. If you need to change your sleep schedule, it won’t happen in one day! It will take days to adjust and get good, restorative sleep. Same for babies! When we teach them how to fall asleep independently, it takes time. Especially if they have months or years of inconsistent sleeping habits. It is never too late to find the best way to sleep train your baby!