If you have more than one child, chances are you’ve already found that what works for one child doesn’t always work for another. Just like every family is different, every baby is different – especially when it comes to sleep training. Some babies are naturally better sleepers than other, which means that the tactics you use for sleep training will vary depending on the needs of your child and your family. But the good news is that even fussy sleepers can be soothed without long nights of crying.
If you’ve tried letting your baby cry it out but they are still waking up at night, or you don’t want to try that route, there are a number of simple sleep training options that don’t involve crying – on your part of your baby’s! In reality, you should expect some fussing at the beginning, but fortunately, you don’t need to just let your child cry hysterically as you try to ignore it. Follow these suggestions below and get your baby on his or her way to good sleep.
Make Sleep a Priority
The human brain, no matter how old or young runs on sleep. If your baby is waking up
frequently at night, they may not be getting the rest they need, which can be linked to everything from the mother experiencing postpartum depression to them experiencing depression later in life. It’s been shown that children who don’t get enough REM cycles in their sleep may get shorter attention spans and have trouble learning. These babies will also experience more stress due to the release of the cortisol hormone. The first step to effective sleep training is to make it a priority, not just for your sake, but for your baby’s overall health.
Speak with Professionals
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the experts. Before taking on any sleep training regimen or plan, you need to make sure that all the right people have given it the all clear. “That includes your pediatrician who can let you know if there’s any medical condition causing the sleep troubles, like reflux, GERD, sleep apnea, or allergies. You should also speak with your partner so you’re both on board and know how to react to your baby waking up at certain times,” explains Hillary Thomson, a blogging mom at BoomEssays.
Figure Out How Much Sleep Is Needed
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants ages four to twelve months need to get anywhere from 12 to 16 hours of sleep for every 24-hour period, which includes naps. That allows them to get the most benefits from their sleep. Children who are between one and two years old will need 11 to 14 hours of sleep, and from three to five, they will need 10 to 13 hours each day.
Keep a Sleep Journal
“It can become tricky keeping track of how many times your baby woke up each night, how
often they were up for, and more. By keeping a log of their sleep, you can more easily notice patterns,” says Valery Sims, a health writer at Best Writing Services. Track your baby’s sleep over days and nights for a week, then figure out what bedtime is best for your baby and your family. Logs will also let you know how long your baby is fussing for each night, because as you know if you’ve ever stayed up for hours with a fussing baby, sometimes it can feel much longer than it really is.
Set a Routine
A regular schedule is very important to help your baby sleep tightly all night. From your baby’s earliest days, you can start a bedtime routine that will help your baby’s mind and body get ready for and used to sleep. All you need is fifteen minutes where you’re near their nursery or crib and repeat the same few activities that are quiet and calm, like reading or singing to your baby. Remove anything stimulating from the area and stay consistent in your routine.
Start Sleep Training at the Right Time
For sleep training to be a success, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the time and space to make it work. And truth is, there’s no such thing as the “perfect time”, but you at least want to choose a time when you can have three uninterrupted weeks without time zone changes or crib or bedroom changes, especially for more sensitive and alert babies. A lot of parents start on Friday because the weekend gives them flexibility in the mornings. Don’t forget that good naps during the day will also help you be more successful.
Choose the Right Environment
The right environment is key for sleep training. That means the room should be at the right
temperature, cool and comfortable anywhere between 65 and 70 degrees. You can also
have room darkening shades if the baby’s room gets a lot of natural light. Or, if you feel the space is too dark, consider adding a soft night-light to keep the space cozy and relaxing.
Put Your Baby to Bed Awake
It may sound counter-intuitive, but when sleep training, you want to go through your nightly bedtime routine with the lights on and the baby awake. Then, you can put your baby in their crib drowsy but still awake, teaching them that they’re safe and secure in their sleeping environment, but fully capably of falling asleep on their own. If they’re used to falling asleep in your arms, they’re more likely to be disturbed – and tearful – when you finally put them down. Of course, it takes time to establish a routine, so in the beginning, you may want to spend a few nights nearby so you can gently reassure them if they do wake and begin to fuss.
The simple fact is, some babies will be good sleepers and others will struggle. But like any good habit, starting early, staying consistent, and putting in the work will lead to healthier, happier lives – for parents and babies alike!