Have you just welcomed a new member of your family? Congratulations! I bet you are constantly trying to catch them smile or see what color their eyes have! I also bet you are far behind in your sleep, and your baby seems programmed to sleep by day and keep you awake at night.
So Should You Train Your Baby to Sleep?
What you can do is, train your baby to sleep, so that you can sleep too!
Before you dismiss the idea of training your baby to sleep, you owe it to yourself to find out more. It obviously answers a burning need of any new parent. Even when you don’t have a job, you still need sleep to get by, and everyone knows raising a child is not easy, especially for women who had complications at birth, single parents, or couples with a troublesome relationship.
The Pros and Cons of Baby Sleep Training
Training babies to sleep, assuming it is done the right way, can bring numerous benefits.
- No or fewer night-time cries
- Strict and easy to follow bedtime schedule
- Better sleep for both the parent and the baby
- A pleasant bedtime routine that helps the parents and the baby connect
- Potential solutions for sleep problems and night-time terrors
- More time for the parents
However, it is important to note that the training itself can be tiring, and it will take some time for the results to appear. Moreover, some forms of training are not recommended for babies at a very young age or who suffer from breathing or sleep problems. Before you decide on whether to take up or not even consider training your baby to sleep, you owe it to yourself to find out more about the concept and what it involves.
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What Does Training Babies to Sleep Involve?
The idea of training babies to sleep is not new. For decades specialists have been trying to find out if it is possible to implement certain routines in order to make babies sleep better at night, and how those routines would affect the little ones in the long run.
They have come up with three effective approaches:
1. The Cry-It-Out Approach
It has fervent supporters among both sleep specialists and parents. Its main advocates are Richard Ferber, Jodi Mindell, Marc Weissbluth, Jill Spivack, and Jennifer Waldburger. They all promote the idea of establishing a loving and warm bedtime routine and putting babies to bed awake, so they may learn to soothe themselves to sleep.
Contrary to what the name of the approach suggests, they do not recommend letting babies cry themselves to sleep, but only leaving the babies alone for gradually longer time intervals, to teach them to go to sleep on their own and thus avoid night cries.
The sooner the parents begin the sleep training routine, the more likely they are to avoid cries and improve both the baby’s and their own sleeping patterns. As for risk, recent studies suggest there’s nothing wrong with letting babies cry-it-out.
2. The Fading Approach
This approach relies on an old behavior modification technique and skill training method. Its main adepts are Kim West, Julie Wright, and Heather Turgeon. Compared to the above approach in which the parents gradually increase the time they spend away from the baby at bedtime, this one recommends parents to gradually reduce their involvement in the baby’s bedtime routine.
The method aims to reduce the frustration and avoid cries by gradually shifting the responsibility for falling asleep from the parent to the baby. Since the parents spend less and less time with them at bedtime, the babies will learn to eventually soothe themselves to sleep
3. The No-Tears Approach
Its main advocates are James, Martha, Robert, and William Sears, Tracy Hogg, Elizabeth Pantley, and Harvey Karp. They advise parents to comfort their babies whenever they cry, warning that cry-it-out techniques can be dangerous.
They too promote bedtime rituals, and even room and bed sharing. They believe children sleep more peacefully knowing their parents are always there, and the latter can educate themselves to spot the signs and signals the babies send and act on them.
The Best Baby Sleep Training Approach
As a mother of two, both brought into this world through a C-section, I know what sleepless nights mean. I also know that we, mothers, have our own way to communicate with the babies and tell when they need us and when they are crying for no reason.
Although I’ve read a lot of parenthood books during both pregnancies, I never applied the advice in them to the letter. It simply didn’t seem practical in our case. That is why I want to remind you that, when it comes to training your baby to sleep and the above-presented approaches, you have several options. You can:
- Try one or several of the above approaches identify the one that works best for you
- Combine the elements you’re comfortable with from each approach and create your own
- Analyze your baby’s sleep patterns and build your own sleep schedule around them, to make sure you get the rest you need
- Go with the flow and leave things to chance.
Personally, I’ve chosen to combine elements and develop my own approach, and it worked like a charm. As soon as we brought our daughters home my husband and I began establishing a bedtime routine and sleep training. It was the best thing we could have done. Here are the basics:
The pain I was in from the C-section forced me to choose co-sleeping because I simply wasn’t able to get up and check-up on the girls every time they woke up. In their own crib, they would wake up countless times. Next to me, they slept for hours in a row.
I knew from the nurses that babies get hungry every three hours or so. I tried to make sure they ate enough on every meal and follow a schedule. When my girls went to sleep without eating enough, they would wake up and start crying. When they ate properly, they slept for hours in a row.
Our bedtime routine included, still includes, bathing and eating. We bathed the girls before feeding them to avoid delays and regurgitation, and it worked like a charm. The bath kept them awake long enough to get their share of pampering and finish their meal, and they then fell asleep immediately. Not even our doctor could believe it, but our daughters slept through the night after only one month from birth.
The Bottom Line
What works for one baby may not work for all. There are no universal solutions. There is, however, the possibility to develop good, healthy habits, and sleep training surely helps with at least one. Try it with your baby, either by following one of the approaches above or by combining them however you see fit and creating your own approach, and you will soon see the benefits.
Life does become easier and more enjoyable after a good night’s sleep, and sleep training your baby can help you enjoy it. Start as soon as possible, and don’t hesitate to share your worries, success, or challenges with us!
What’s the best baby sleep training that worked for you? Comment below your approaches. Also do not forget to subscribe with us for more content. You can also follow us on our social media channels mentioned below.