When To Start Sleep Training And How To Do It Right
How wonderful it is for us parents to get a good night’s sleep! You might be sleep deprived during his first month of life, but this too shall pass. All-nighters and fussy babies are quite common, but there a way around it.
This article is for you if you are thinking when to start sleep training. You must do it somehow because, like food, quality sleep is a necessity both for you and your baby.
What is Sleep Training?
You are lucky if your baby can sleep on his own without fuss every night although it is not the case for most babies so.
Hence, you need sleep training.
But what is it really?
Sleep training is as simple as making your baby adopt good sleep habits. It is also about training your baby to sleep longer, so that at night, you may have more time to slumber. Sleep training is letting baby learn effective sleep habits and following a sleeping schedule according to his age and development.
There is nothing wrong if a baby still wakes up in the middle of the night to feed. What sleep training does is it reduces baby’s waking hours at night time, so that mom may have a better sleep.
Considering co-sleeping? Read this article:
When to Start Sleep Training?
You cannot force a baby into something when he is not yet ready. Developmental milestones of infants are typically similar but each baby has a unique character.
The baby will usually take after one or both of his parents, so some baby is naturally fussy, easily irritated or light sleepers. There are also a lot of factors in play that determines baby’s sleep quality such as the surroundings, noise, and temperature.
The first part of baby’s sleep training may begin as early as three to four months of age.
1. 3-5 Months of age
Some babies can sleep 6-7 hours straight without feeding starting at around 3-5 months of age. So beginning at 3 months set a bedtime routine for baby. Longer sleep will happen at night time, and play time during the day.
Allow your baby to be accustomed to this routine so that he may ease his confusion about day versus night. Let him associate the dark with the need to sleep.
You cannot enforce this during his first weeks of life so expect to have some all-nighters particularly for baby’s first month. Come three months, he will already be receptive to your cues, as long as you can set up a routine that is the same daily.
What time do you usually wake up and what time will baby need to feed in the morning?
Begin your routine at this particular time in the morning, and stick with this as much as possible.
At day time, make your bedroom as bright as possible. Allow natural sunlight in and make the baby play, eat and be active. Likewise, set a routine as soon as it gets dark, such as singing some lullaby, cuddling and giving a massage. Be consistent so that baby will not feel apprehensive or confused at night time.
2. 6-9 Months of age
You will get an active crawler and little explorer during this time. Beginning at this crawling stage, a baby will be a little bit more awake and adventurous. Learning how to sit, crawl and go around to discover new places around the house will seem more enticing than rest and sleep.
If you shall begin baby’s sleep training during this age, he will be more resistant, for the reason that he is distracted with new abilities, sights, and sound.
This time during baby’s development might not be the best time for sleep training, but you may still begin.
Patience and endurance are also needed as this is the time when baby wakes up more at night to call you out for comfort or feeding. This phase will quickly pass so be patient.
3. 9-11 Months of age
At this age, a baby is clingy and will ask to be carried, much more than his earlier months. Baby will feel separation anxiety, and it can get in the way of sleep training.
Your baby will be nervous meeting new people, going to new places and not seeing mom around. During this time, he will be more anxious and might make more fuss about being left alone to sleep.
Your baby will be more distracted at this time because he is learning how to stand up. Be patient because you might observe baby stand up every time you put him to bed to sleep.
This is expected since he is still practicing is gross motor skills particularly for standing up on his own. He might already understand your verbal communication during this time so talk to him about how and why he must sleep.
4. 12-13 Months of age
If you begin baby’s sleep training during this stage, be prepared for lots of resistance.
Baby is already learning how to walk, climb and communicate. At this stage, a baby might start testing your reaction and his limitations. He might start to refuse bedtime, sleep on his accord, and even forgo his regular nap schedule sometimes.
Nonverbal cues might have worked well when he is younger, but this time, you have to speak it out. The need to sleep must be communicated and baby must fell in-control. Allow baby to feel as though sleeping is his own decision by simple reminders and encouragement.
Tips And Tricks For Successful Sleep Training
1. Put baby to his bed/sleeping cot while he is awake.
Yes, it may sound counter-productive but it works. Holding your baby until he falls asleep may seem normal at his first month. Come three months, he might have already gained some weight and holding him until he dozes off can get tiring for mom.
Begin sleep training before he gets too heavy.
Unassisted sleep habit is what your baby needs. He needs to learn that he must sleep on his own accord and that he must sleep at a particular time of the day.
Spontaneous and independent sleep habit is important as early as three months of age.
Once the baby is trained effectively, he will start to make less fuss in the middle of the night. Yes, he will still wake up to cry for milk, but it will be a shorter episode and shall be finished as soon as he is done with his bottle.
Initially, just lay the baby down and watch for his response. If a baby is feeling well and not hungry, you’ll be surprised to find that he can sleep spontaneously!
2. Wrap him up snug!
Although this advice might not work during warm weather, one of the best ways to let a baby sleep on his own is to wrap him up.
Create a snug feeling, akin to being in the womb. Swaddle baby up starting at day one of his life. Continue this up to the time when he starts to move about to turn on his stomach.
To let baby get a good sleep, do not make him lie exposed at the nursery. Wrap him up to keep is arms and legs from flailing, yet keep it flexible enough for a little bit of movement. Make him feel secure and he will most likely sleep longer.
3. Make baby sleep at his stomach, and then flip him to his back.
Babies sleep faster when they are on their tummies. This is important to minimize crying episodes before sleep time.
Yet take note that he must be flipped to his back a few minutes into his slumber. This is to minimize the incidence of SIDS and suffocation when a baby is lying on his stomach. You may also rock baby gently or put him in a baby swing to facilitate sleep.
4. Give baby a pacifier and soothe his cries.
If your baby is used to having a pacifier, let him suck this before sleeping. It is important to make a baby feel calm and relaxed and finding a good pacifier will do just that.
This is also effective during those late nights when he is not hungry but is in need to suck. Have a pacifier near bedside for crying bouts but also take not to check first whether a baby is hungry.
Take note not to let a baby cry for long!
There is nothing wrong with picking a baby up and soothing him until he stops crying. Pick him up once the pacifier or bottle feeding is ineffective to soothe his cries. Read more here: https://wellbeingkid.com/baby-only-sleep-on-me/
At first, you may need to pick up a baby at least a dozen times a night. Be patient, your baby is just undergoing a phase. What’s essential is to be attentive to baby’s needs.
So when to start sleep training? You may still begin sleep training baby during his crawling stage but the best time to start is at 3-4 months.
The key takeaway for effective sleep training is to maintain a regular bedtime routine. Following a routine day schedule is also needed.It is important that baby has no existing medical condition that makes him want to nurse every 3-4 hours.
To be sure:
Ask your doctor for advice; he might even give you additional tips to make your baby’s sleep training successful.Your baby needs all the sleep he can get; it is all about a balance between sleep and the need to feed at night. Here is an article about cluster feeding:
What worked for some babies might not work well with your own child. Plan it thoroughly, lay out your strategies, and be patient. Do not give in or give up; sleep training is hard at first. Observe baby for cues and trust your gut for actions.
Once sleep training is effective, you will be rewarded by getting that much needed long slumber.
Read my article about Baby Sleeping 101 here: