Sleep training means teaching your baby to fall asleep without any help from the parent. Its baby is put down to bed fully awake, and the baby drifts off without being rocked, swayed, cuddled, nursed, or shushed. Sleep training may involve some tears, but it is not harmful to babies. They often become super sleepers in just a few nights. Sleep training also teaches the baby how to fall back to sleep when the baby inevitably does wake up overnight, since night waking is a normal part of the sleep cycle, even for adults.
Many experts from Oregon City Pediatrics suggest that sleep training is not only safe, but it’s also healthy and important for babies’ development. According to experts, sleep training should start between the 4th month to the 6th month as this age range is the sweet spot, as babies are old enough to physically make it for six to eight hours overnight without needing to eat.
Sleep training methods
There’s no one way to sleep train, but many parents find the one or the mix of the following sleep training methods work for their families.
Create a bedtime routine
Each night, perform some bedtime rituals like bathing, reading, or singing lullabies, easing the baby’s mind and preparing their body for sleep. Following this routine consistently will help the baby know it’s time for bed, and it also develops their internal clock.
Set the nursery scene
When it comes to sleep training a baby, the environment is extremely important. Keep the room of the baby cool and comfortable. Even if the baby’s room gets a lot of light, it may disturb their sleep; consider installing room darkening shades to help the baby have proper naps.
Adopt a sleep training technique
Sleep training methods vary from family to family and child to child. However, here are a few popular options to consider.
● Fading method: With this method, parents help their babies to fall asleep with soothing techniques, like feeding, rocking, talking, etc. The baby will require less comfort over time, so the parent can gradually fade out of their bedtime routine.
● Pick-up/Put-down method: In this method, the parents pick up their babies when they cry or fuss, then put them down after they are comforted by them, repeating this process until they fall asleep.
● Chair method: In this method, the mother or the father sits next to the crib in a chair until the baby falls asleep, trying not to soothe if they get fussy. The parents gradually move the chair further from the crib each night until they are outside the room and out of view.
One of the biggest mistakes that parents make is being inconsistent no matter what sleep training method they use. At some point, the baby may cry for the parent at night, even after the parent is done with the sleep training process. So first, check on the baby and make sure everything is well, be sure that you do not restart an old sleep crutch during this check. After that, try to comfort the baby from outside the door, if that’s possible. Otherwise, the parent is risking the hard work they have already put in.
Sleep training often involves tears for both the parent and the baby. But with consistency and luck, the parent will soon be sleeping peacefully, and the baby will have learned the valuable life skill of how to fall and stay asleep on their own.