Routines And Learning To Self-Soothe

If getting your baby down for a nap or bedtime is an exhaustive process full of singing, rocking and jiggling, you may want to try sleep training — or teaching them to fall asleep on their own. While sleep training can be challenging at first, the payoff will be big for both of you.

Sleeping baby

Contributed by Jessica Remitz

Experts say the best time to begin sleep training is when your baby is older than 4 months and is not ill, attempting a major developmental milestone (like standing, crawling or talking) or going through separation anxiety. Training methods will differ, but the most important thing to do is pick one method and stick with it for at least a week, as studies show that nearly all sleep training techniques are effective when parents are consistent with them.

Drowsy, but awake

Most methods recommend putting your baby down drowsy but awake, then checking in on them at regular intervals until they fall asleep. As your baby learns to self-soothe, they can become frustrated because they don’t know how to put themselves to sleep and will begin crying. Fighting your natural urge to soothe your baby to sleep once they begin crying is usually the most difficult part of sleep training, even though the “cry it out method” has been proven by researchers not to hurt your baby emotionally or developmentally.

More about the “cry it out” method >>

Handle crying with verbal reassurance instead of lingering around your baby’s room or touching them, as this will lead them to think they’re going to be picked up and will prolong crying. Fortunately, consistency with one method every time your baby goes to sleep (including nighttime wake-ups and naps) will help reduce the duration and intensity of your baby’s tears dramatically within a few nights.

And if you’ve already tried sleep training without success? Try talking to a professional sleep coach, who will analyze your bay’s routine, help you pinpoint what is disrupting their sleep and develop a schedule for naps and bedtime.

Take a look at what our labor nurse says about sleep training >>

Key tips

No matter what method you use for sleep training, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Prepare: Get your baby’s room ready for sleep by keeping it dark and quiet. A fan or white-noise machine will be helpful for blocking out other household noises at bedtime.
  • Be consistent: By keeping your nighttime ritual to the same time and same place until your baby is trained. Stick to an early bedtime between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. so your baby goes down tired but not exhausted.
  • Take notes: Track your baby’s progress to help you stay motivated and stick to the routine. Make a note of the times you checked in on your baby and how long crying lasted each night when they woke up.

Learn about keeping your baby safe as they sleep and how to protect them against SIDS >>

More baby sleep tips

Your newborn: Coping with the Moro reflex
How to move a sleeping baby
Let your sleeping baby sleep!

Tags: soothing

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