What is sleep training and how do you do it?
When you were expecting, what did you friends tell you? Did they say that after the baby was born you would never sleep again? As silly as that sounds, it’s not completely untrue.
Well, a little untrue, however, if you don’t implement proper sleep habits at an early age, you chances of catching enough winks could become a distant memory.
Understanding what sleep training is, how it works and how implementing it isn’t as difficult as it may seem. But before we go any further, what is sleep training?
Continue reading to learn what sleep training is and how it benefits both you and your baby:
What is Sleep Training?
When you research “what is sleep training online,” what pops up? Even with the abundance of information about sleep training available, it can still be confusing to new parents.
Sleep training is all about teaching your baby how to fall asleep and remain asleep on their own. For some people, it may seem odd that going to sleep doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
If you’re new to the world of parenting or have children who just don’t want to follow a schedule, you are probably well aware of the truth.
But if you baby is having trouble sleeping peacefully, it’s important to establish proper sleep hygiene habits as early as possible. Even though babies spend a majority of time sleeping during their first few months of life, they still have to learn when and how to sleep.
Once the middle-of-the-night feedings are over, most babies have already developed a sleep-wake cycle. Effective sleep training can help both you and the baby get a good night’s rest
Before they’re able to sleep on their own, babies need the help of their parents, which makes it all the more important to learn what sleep training is.
Sleep training is more than simply putting your baby in their room. It’s all about self-soothing and teaching your baby how to stay asleep on their own. There are plenty of benefits that come with sleep training your baby.
One of the top benefits that comes with sleep training is that everyone gets to sleep through the night without having to worry about a fussy baby.
Regardless of reason, broken sleep leads to decreased levels of concentration, memory fog and makes it dangerous to drive a car.
In addition, your baby needs proper amount of sleep to develop and reach all of those wonderful milestones that await them!
Now, keep in mind that sleep training is not exactly a must for all babies. In fact, many families who skip sleep training have children without sleep disturbances.
A common misconception is that some pediatricians may try to force you into sleep training. However, this is not the case. Medical experts have stated that the best way to approach sleep training is the one that’s best suited for your family.
When to Start Sleep Training
Worn-out parents may be extremely eager to start their baby’s sleep training right away. Knowing when to start sleep training can be difficult to figure out for new parents.
Some babies are able to start their sleep training when they’re four to six months old. However, there is no “perfect time” to start your baby’s sleep training. While four months is considered the best time to start, it’s perfectly okay to start when your baby is around seven to 10 months.
During the first few months of your baby’s life or when you were pregnant, you may have researched various forms of sleep training. Doing research is fine, but remember it’s important that you discuss sleep training with your pediatrician before starting getting started.
Some descriptions of sleep training you’ve read online are not entirely accurate. In fact, they can be downright false. Your pediatrician is a trained medical professional who understands how beneficial sleep training can be.
For instance, let’s say that your baby is slow to gain weight or was born prematurely. They might not be ready to stop night-time feedings and will need a sleep schedule that has adapted to waking up in the middle of the night.
How to Sleep Train
Now that your question of “what is sleep training?” has been answered, it’s time to get into how to sleep train your baby. There are several ways to implement sleep training into your baby’s routine.
One way is called gentle sleep training. with this method, you pick up your child and gently rock them back and forth until they fall asleep. It’s also to soothe your baby if they’re crying. Other methods include letting your baby soothe themselves for the night and not open their door until the morning.
While neither of these methods are considered right or wrong, it does depend on what works best for you and your family.
Every method of sleep training has its pros and cons, so it’s important to understand each method works.
Below are some of the most popular forms of sleep training:
The No-Tears Method
This method was created by a sleep expert Elizabeth Pantley. The no-tears method involves you subtly changing your baby’s sleep habits. For example, if your child always needs to be rocked back and forth, you will rock them less and less until they can be put down to sleep without the need for it.
This technique is known as fading, which means that you slowly but surely ease your baby out of their go-to-sleep strategy.
The CIO Method
Also known as the cry-it-out method, this form of sleep training involves letting your child learn to soothe themselves. This means you do not interfere as they’re trying to fall asleep. The general idea of this method is that babies are able to learn how to self-soothe and stop crying in order to sleep through the night.
The Weissbluth Method
There’s a bit more to this sleep training method than the other two. Basically, it involves setting up a sleep routine for your baby. For example, you may give your baby a warm bath followed by story time and a lullaby. Once the baby falls asleep, close the door and do not enter until morning.
If you choose to try this method when your baby around four months old, know that it may not be so easy at first. You may have to deal with a lot of crying, however, it will gradually fade as your baby becomes more accustomed to the routine.
Again, it all depends on your baby’s needs and whether they’ve stopped nursing during the night.
The Pick Up and Put Down Method
Similar to the Ferber method, you put your baby to bed while they’re still awake and check on them a few times. However, unlike the Ferber method, you can pick your baby up, comfort them, hold them for a few more minutes before finally putting them back down again.
Over time, your child will become sleepy and end up going to sleep on their own.
Regardless of what method you choose, it’s important that you understand that sleep training is a different experience for every parent. You’re bound to hear about a baby who was able to sleep through the night on day one, but that doesn’t mean they can sleep on their own.
So, the question is, how long does sleep training take? Most medical experts estimate that most forms of sleep training at least a week to implement. Sticking to them is what will ultimately make them work.
What are Sleeping Training Alternatives?
If the idea of letting your baby cry it out sends shivers down your spine, it’s okay to try other ways to get some rest. First and foremost, make the most out of your own personal sleep time.
Allow yourself at least six to seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, even on alternate nights.
By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to deal with your little night owl. In addition, nap when your baby naps. Even if it’s for 20 minutes, nothing feels better than a cat nap.
What are Sleep Training Contraindications?
There are various books can answer the question,”What is sleep training?”. However, you should always speak to your pediatrician before embarking on a sleep training regimen. There are situations that warrant holding off, which includes low birth weight or other medical issues.
Sleep training is not always a viable option for every baby.
As stated above, the best way to succeed with sleep training is finding a method that works for you and your family. Sleeping training is always able to be tweaked to suit the situation. Keep an accurate record of which methods you try, so you can weed out ones that aren’t doing the trick.
Although sleep training is one of the best ways to teach your little one proper sleep habits, don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work the first time around. When it comes to parenting, it’s all about trial and error. Rest assured, no matter how long it persists, your sleepless nights will eventually end.