Healthy sleeping habits are key to your baby’s development, and a secondary benefit to achieving these is that you, too, will get the rest you need to function best, both for yourself and everyone in your now extended family.
Everything your baby learns comes from you. They have no other reference point, and it’s important to their development that they sleep well, and this obviously, in turn, helps you to get the rest you need.
Sleep training is a term you’ll hear a lot both ahead of becoming a parent and after the birth of your baby. Let’s delve deeper into the topic.
What is Sleep Training?
So, what is baby sleep training? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, sleep training is all about training your baby to sleep. The aim is to get your baby to sleep for an ever-increasing period of time until they get into a pattern that gives them the amount of rest they need, which will tend to adjust as they grow.
The ideal point of which will be when your baby can sleep anything from nine to twelve hours in one stretch. Now, the prospect of this may well feel like something of a promised land that is just out of reach for those who are currently suffering sleepless nights and periods of fitful sleep.
Sleep training can sometimes be a breeze, taking days or weeks, but on other occasions, this may take a lot longer.
Tips to Help Sleep Training Your Baby
Here are a few helpful tips that may aid your efforts to sleep-train your baby.
Often routine is the key to much of your baby’s early development, and that’s definitely the case in terms of their sleep. This means having a consistent time for bedtime, one that works for your baby and that you stick to.
In other words, if your baby starts to fall into a good deep sleep from 7 pm, then suddenly changing this to earlier or later will very swiftly defeat the process.
Let Your Baby Self-Soothe
Independence is a key part of sleep training. When your baby is clearly tired and drowsy, putting them down and leaving them to adjust and self-soothe to the point of sleep is a crucial part of their bedtime evolution.
This is key because it will help them to get back to sleep if they wake up without your help, so try not to be too fussy around them as they ease into sleep.
You may well feel like you’ve cracked the ultimate code when your baby finally starts to sleep throughout the night, and then your dreams might be shattered if they go through a period of sleep regression or occasionally fail to successfully sleep overnight.
There will be nights that don’t go accordingly to plan, and no two babies are the same, so try not to be too jealous of mothers and fathers who inform you of how well their child is sleeping.
Sleep training your baby is not an exact science, so don’t lose hope if things take a while to fit into place.
Sleeping in Different Rooms
At some point, you’ll need to move your baby into their own room, and this is an essential part of the sleep development your child will go through. There is no right or wrong time to do this, but it is a milestone that will help to create that independence we discussed earlier.
Use a Professional if You Want To
Some parents will look to enlist the help of a professional in this field, someone who can take an active part in the sleep training process. If this is something you wish to do, then by all means, do so.
A sleep consultant could well help you and your baby, and for first-time parents, their help could prove invaluable.
The Ferber Method
This type of sleep training involves you setting specific intervals when you’ll check on your baby as they look to get themselves to sleep. Here you do not feed or overly interact with your child, but you are present, and this can help create a more calming environment for your baby, making it more likely they will ease into sleep.
You slowly increase the time in between intervals until your visits are unnecessary. You can look to log these timings or play it by ear.
Let Them Cry It Out
This is pretty much the opposite of the Ferber Method and entails you basically leaving your child to their own devicesover the period of the night. It may seem or feel harsh, and some parents will just not be happy to adopt this method, but it can prove effective.
The theory here is that you ignore your crying baby as much as possible, waiting one or two times as they wake up in the hopes that they will soothe themselves back to sleep.
This is not a method that is universally approved of but may work for you.
There is No Right or Wrong Answer
An element of peer pressure can sometimes sway the way you deal with the issue of sleep training, and you will be inundated with advice from fellow parents, but it’s important that you look to make your own decisions without the pressure of others looming large.
The way you choose to sleep train your baby is entirely up to you, and in many ways, there is no right or wrong way to go about this task. Finally, rest assured that your baby will learn to sleep for prolonged periods, and pretty soon, your bedtime nightmares will be nothing more than a distant dream.