What is Sleep Training?
To put it simply, sleep training is a process that allows your baby to learn how to fall asleep. This kind of training also helps the baby sleep through the night. The overall length of sleep training varies from baby to baby.
Some babies learn it easily and quickly, but a few of them experience trouble while settling down. Such babies need help from their parents to develop their sleep habits.
If you still wonder what is sleep training, here is a comprehensive answer to this question.
When to Start Sleep Training
According to experts, the best time to start sleep training is between 4 to 6 months after birth. After that, the baby will start to follow a particular sleep-wake cycle, and it will be difficult to mold such a routine.
When the baby drops most of the night feedings, it serves as a sign that they are ready for sleep training. At this age, babies usually sleep for long stretches through the night, making it a highly preferable time to offer such training.
Of course, not all babies are the same. For instance, some babies may not be ready for sleep training until they reach a particular age. A few babies develop good sleep habits some weeks after their birth. In this situation, you would find it easy to train your baby for solo sleep.
Even if your baby is older than 6 months and you still haven’t trained them for sleep, don’t worry. In fact, it’s never too late to help your baby learn good sleep habits. In some cases, they react more positively to sleep training at this stage.
Hence, one can ascertain that the age of the baby plays a key role while deciding what type of sleep training parents should choose. For example, you need to be gentle and respond to the crying of your baby when they are less than five months old.
On the other hand, when the baby crosses the 6-month mark, you can ignore the screaming or crying behavior of the child, when offering crib training.
However, it isn’t appropriate to follow a particular sleep training approach during the first 4 months of a baby. This is because you have to wait for the time when your baby takes fewer feeds during the night.
In most babies, a circadian rhythm also starts to develop at this age. A four-month-old baby can sleep without any need to feed during the night, and there will be no health risks.
However, this doesn’t mean that you stop responding to them or offering them a feed when they wake up occasionally. Keeping your baby calm and meeting all their needs are the most essential aspects of sleep training.
Preparing for Sleep Training
In order to set the stage for proper sleep training, you need to consider a wide range of aspects. Some of these factors are:
Introduce and Follow a Particular Bedtime Routine
Starting such a routine is beneficial in many ways. You can even introduce a proper bedtime routine when your baby is just 6 weeks old. There is no particular age to start this routine, yet it would be easier for you to develop your baby’s bedtime routine as early as possible. The routine may include giving a warm bath or singing a lullaby before putting your baby to sleep.
Experts suggest that the best time to put your baby to sleep is between 7 to 8 pm. During this time, your baby won’t be overtired and should fall asleep without any reluctance. Hence, you need to be consistent with the timing.
Create a Daytime Schedule
Apart from the bedtime routine, you also need to develop a healthy daytime routine for your baby. In fact, it will also help you out with the sleep training. For this purpose, make sure that the baby gets up at the desired time every morning.
During the day, feed them at specific times and allow them to take an afternoon nap on a consistent basis. This routine will keep your baby calm and relaxed. As a result, they will sleep quicker as night arrives.
Observe for Any Medical Condition
When starting sleep training, make sure that your child doesn’t experience any medical conditions. If the baby isn’t feeling well, it would definitely affect their sleep-wake cycle.
Moreover, conditions like sleep apnea are hard to diagnose in a baby. Hence, if you find any abnormality in your baby’s sleep patterns, consult a doctor before starting a sleep training program.
Choosing a Sleep Training Option
There are numerous ways to help your child learn good sleep habits. However, most parents find it hard to opt for any one sleep training technique. This is easy — just analyze the behavior of your child, how they respond to the change, and in which situation your baby feels more comfortable.
Irrespective of the sleep training option that you have selected, make sure to be flexible when applying it. You must keep an eye on the response and reaction of your baby. If you observe that the resistance is of such a nature that it would worsen their behavior or mood, discontinue such training for a week or so.
After discussing what sleep training is, it’s time to reach a conclusion. Sleep training involves such techniques that prepare your child for better sleep every night (see more here). After successfully training, you will find that the baby sleeps well through the night and wakes up less often.
When making a decision about sleep training, it would be appropriate to keep in mind the age of your baby. Usually, experts recommend such training when the baby is 4 months old or over. The reason for this is the ability of a baby to understand and accept the change.
Once started, you need to be consistent regarding sleep training. Making changes often may disturb the sleep-wake cycle of a baby. With a view to avoiding this, you must choose a viable sleep training program and stick to it for the desired outcome.