So you decided that enough is enough! You need your sleep and sanity back! And the only way to do that is by creating some structure in your babies sleep routine. Well sleep training will do just that. You don't have to think of sleep training as some harsh means of controlling your baby. You don't have to hear them cry all night. In fact, there doesn't have to be much crying at all. There are many things you can do to help your baby get to sleep, and stay asleep. Here are my basic tips, to successful sleep training.
- The best place to start is a solid, and consistent bedtime routine, at a descent hour. This will help teach your baby predictability. The more they know what's coming, the more likely they are to accept it. You can start by something simple like a bath and reading a book. It doesn't have to be anything complex. As long as it is the same routine, every night, at the same time. Eventually your baby will get use to this routine and know it's time to go to bed
- Create a good sleeping environment. This may include things such as: room darkening shades, swaddling if your baby is young, comfortable jammies, proper room temperature. Anything you can do to make them as comfortable as can be, to promote a restful nights sleep.
- The next thing is a biggie. What I always try to teach everyone, is to put your baby to sleep drowsy but awake. This may be a little difficult but it is essential to getting your baby to sleep through the night. Your baby has to learn the skills to fall asleep independently, so that she may do the same when she wakes in the middle of the night. A baby that falls asleep, by rocking or nursing, will expect the same thing when they wake at night. A baby has many short sleep cycles, so they wake up a lot, and I'm pretty sure you don't want to keep running in her room to rock or nurse her back to sleep. Do yourself and your baby a favor and put her down to sleep awake. It's the best thing you can do for your baby's sleep. Just this step alone should solve most if not all of your sleep troubles.
- The next important step is to find a sleep training method or program. Sleep training is not easy, and neither is teaching your baby how to fall asleep independently. It's going to take major work and your going to need help, there's nothing wrong with that. There are many programs out there for you to choose, but most of them are divided into the following: are you going to let your child cry it out until they fall asleep? or are you going to pick up and comfort them? Take a stand, and pick your program. There are some programs that utilize both crying and comforting, but if you feel uncomfortable with letting your baby cry at all, that won't work. So think long and hard about how you want to do this, because once you start, you're going to have to be firm and consistent. I highly recommend the Sleep Sense Program. I wrote a review on it here. If you don't want to buy a program, you can try a variety of different methods created by "sleep experts" to see what works, but this may take a lot more time and patience. It will be a trial and error kind of thing. Some methods include the "pick up, put down" in which you are picking your baby up when they cry, and putting them back to bed awake when they settle. "Shushing" or "patting" your baby to sleep is another method. And my least 2 favorite "controlled crying", where you allow your baby to cry, but check on them at intervals, or just let them "cry it out" completely. There are many choices, pick something you feel comfortable with, and something you can actually see yourself committing to.
- The last, and most important piece of advice I can offer is be consistent, and don't give up! Whichever program or method you choose, no matter how hard it gets, and how badly you want to give up, stick to it! If your baby takes and hour to fall asleep the first night and 50 minutes the next, that's progress. Take every day at a time, don't look too far ahead and hope your baby is going to be sleeping through the night within a few days. Sleep training takes time, patience, and commitment. And think about what your poor baby is going through, this isn't easy for them either. They want to be able to just fall asleep and stay asleep too. It's a process you have to go through together. If your lucky you can sleep train your baby within a week, but for most it's going to take a bit longer. It's not easy, but I promise you the uninterrupted, blissful night's sleep, is so worth it in the end. Good luck, happy sleep training!