Getting your baby to sleep on their own can be tricky. By night time, most parents are already sleep deprived and tired from a long day and simply do what they can to get the baby quiet and sleeping. Despite good intentions, baby ends up getting exactly what they want, which generally doesn’t include going to bed on time in their own cot.
Developing a good sleep training process will help get your baby to sleep at their bedtimes and to sleep throughout the night. Use this as a guide to sleep training your baby, but remember – all babies are different. Trust your instincts and have faith in your own ability as a parent. You will know what to do.
When to Start
Most experts recommend you start sleep training your baby at around four to six months of age. This is when they begin to mature neurologically, develop a regular sleep-wake cycle, and drop most of their night time feeds.
Introduce a Bedtime Routine
Giving your baby a bath before bed is a great addition to their bedtime routine. Bath them and dress them, talking and playing all the way. Then read a bedtime story, or talk to them about the day you’ve just shared, or sing a lullaby and they should be ready for sleep. Try not to get stressed if they aren’t sleeping or to rush your baby, they will pick up on your anxiety and not want to sleep. Keep the time of your bedtime routine consistent – somewhere between 6:30pm and 8:00pm.
Try to pick a time and do your best to consistently stick to it; having them bathed and in bed, ready for sleep, at the same time every night. It will make a world of difference.
As well as putting your baby down at the same time each night, you need to develop a routine at the other end as well. Try to get your baby up at the same time every morning (although it’s most likely they will be the ones waking you up), and the same goes for their nap times.
Try to put them down for a nap at the same time every morning. This will begin at around two hours after waking, and then stretch out to three and four as they get older. But keep it consistent – don’t try to stretch it out, thinking that keeping them awake for longer will help them to sleep faster and deeper when they finally do fall in a heap. A regular routine is far better for the development of their sleep training than pushing them to exhaustion, although being active does help.
Find Your Groove
Take heed of your instincts. Some parents are happy to go for the cry it out approach – putting their baby to bed in the cot and closing the door, allowing the baby to cry out their anxiety and put themselves to sleep. It works for some. Other parents feel more comfortable opting for a no tears approach where they soothe their baby to sleep and then help baby get back to sleep if they wake up during the night.
If this is your approach, it is recommended that your baby sleeps in the same room as you. And there are also parents who are happy to cuddle and cradle their babies to sleep and whenever they wake up. This final approach may mean that it takes longer for your baby to develop independent sleep routines, but if that’s what works for you then do it.
Only alter your parenting style and your baby’s routine if what you are doing isn’t working, or if it isn’t good for either the child or the parent. There is no right and wrong way to do things. There are various methods that a range of people recommend, so find what works best for you and do your best to enjoy these times with your baby. They grow up so fast, you will strangely miss the sleepless nights and the little sounds your baby makes.