While all parents should expect to lose a fair amount of sleep with the arrival of a baby, there are still ways for you to help your infant sleep soundly. Beginning the baby sleep training process sooner rather than later means that everyone in the house will be that much better rested, and overall generally more relaxed and happy. But when do you begin sleep training your baby? And how do you go about doing it?
When Do You Begin Sleep Training Babies?
It is not realistic to expect your baby to sleep through the night before 12 weeks old, as young babies aren’t meant to sleep long stretches without nourishment. That being said, it is a good idea to start establishing a sleep routine for your baby while they are still newborns.
The biggest tip for parents sleep training their newborn is to avoid nursing them to sleep. So long as you set the right environment, routine and timings, they will be able to get to sleep on their own. Instead, wake them up before putting them to down to sleep. It sounds crazy, but babies will quickly learn that sleep is independent of feeding, and that the two are not dependent on each other.
Sleep training is about your baby learning to transition from one sleep cycle to the next without fully waking. Once you choose your method and begin baby sleep training, consistency and patience are vital. You should allow about two weeks for your baby to adjust and settle into their new routine, but you’ll likely see progress within three to four days.
Babies are able to sleep through the night without a feed somewhere between 4 to 6 months old. At this stage, they can begin to learn the vital skill of self-soothing to sleep for night time and daytime naps.
Just be sure to stick with the schedule you’re establishing and be patient during the baby sleep training process. When parents aren’t consistent with their methods, the baby becomes confused and the amount of protest increases. Set an early bedtime and stick to the same routine each night (bath, bottle, book and bed). Repeat this at the same time each night, and your little one will get into a bedtime habit.
To help you maintain consistency, start sleep training at a time that makes sense for your family. Pick a time when you and your partner are going to be around to support each other — this is a team effort. It really helps to divide up naps and bedtime with family. Families avoid scheduling any travel plans and stay close to home for four weeks so that parents can honour their child’s nap times and bedtimes, especially when first starting out. Though it may be inconvenient at first, scheduling around this initial phase can make the transition smoother.
Developmental milestones — teething, growth spurts, illness and a new environment — are some of the many factors that can affect successful sleep training. If none of those factors apply to your situation and it’s been a week without any signs of progress, it might be wise take a break. If the previous training method was too stressful, they ought to try a different method. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that everyone in the family is on board and in agreement.
Just bear in mind that changing your little one’s sleep habits will take time, but they will get there in the end. Patience and consistency really do go hand-in-hand.