Your First Week Of Sleep Training
Here are my corrective methods for training your child’s sleeping routine—apply these immediately and consistently for a healthier sleep schedule (for the whole family).
A Parent’s Practical Guide To Sleep Training Without The Trauma.
Don’t beat yourself up, we do what we have to do as new parents to survive AND sleep.
The only person sleep training hurts is you, the parent. Sleep training is one of the toughest stages of parenting but once you succeed with your approach you’ll feel confident handling all the other stages that come with your child’s growth!
The majority of babies are born with erratic sleep cycles. Very few babies come home from the hospital and sleep soundly through the night. Even so, many parents falsely believe their child will naturally fall into a sleep cycle.
Sleep is paramount for healthy development. Infants require between 14 -17 total hours of sleep per day. By four months, most babies sleep 10 to 12 hours at night.
After three months, most kids are physiologically ready to sleep eight hours. They may wake up during those eight hours, but they don’t need to eat or awaken you. That’s why teaching him to feel comfortable in his crib before this time is critical.
Their natural body rhythms cause them to cat nap, wake up, make noise, and then fall back to sleep for an hour or two and repeat the cycle. Most of us are all too familiar with this and getting your baby on a scheduled sleeping routine is literally life changing for all parties involved.
First, you need to nail the nap time routine.
Day Time Routine will mirror night time routine
- Begin helping her learn self-soothing techniques using toys during her naps in the daytime.
- Put two or three new toys in the cribs. Rattles, mobiles, blankets, or stuffed toys to name a few. You want your baby to feel comfortable in their crib. Noise making toys can serve as an auditory cue for sleep. Blankets that smell like mama or papa can be a sensory cue for calm.
- When you put your baby down for nap time, show the baby how to play with the toys, and place the toys in the crib.
- Leave the room, crack the door open a smidge but leave. You can stand out of vision and take a big strong breath. Toughest part, promise.
- Stay strong. Only pick the baby up after she has stopped crying. These next few minutes will be when your baby begins the process of self soothing and these toys will provide comfort!
- Go take your own nap! You deserve it.
- Get the baby immediately when they awaken.
Do this for up to two weeks in order to build a routine.
Reminder: Only proceed to night time training when your child successfully sleeps well during the day.
Pick a 5-day stretch when you decide to sleep train her at night. Be aware of any disruptions, events, or travel that may disrupt this process. The consistency is integral to successfully set a strong sleeping routine. You also want to make sure you’ve got the necessary support at home, because it may be an emotional experience. It is for most of us!
Day 1 Of Sleeping Training: Night Time
The routine for the daytime should be EXACTLY like the nighttime routine. Same toys, same reactions as you would for a nap time.
- Set your baby down for night time. Bring out the soothing toys and place them in the crib.
- Play for a minute with the baby and toys. Then leave the room.
- If the baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying. Do not move the child. Since it is the first night, go in and wind up the toy again. Touch your baby and gently leave.
- Let your baby cry it out. This is not hurting your child on any level, this needs to happen!
Remember you are breaking temper tantrums by ignoring a crying fit of rage. It won’t feel good, you will feel awful. However, this serves you both.
- Try and get sleep. Keep your space.
- Add the below method if you are struggling with keeping the space…
The Chair Method:
- When your baby cries that first night, take a chair and sit next to her crib. Don’t touch her (this is hard) and just sit. You can sing softly, but it is best if you are quiet.
- When she goes back to sleep, leave the room. The next night, when she cries, go into her room and place the chair a little farther from her crib. The next night, farther, etc.
- Finally, you will be close to the door and put the chair outside the door where she can’t see you. Then you are home free.
Day 2- 5
- Wake up and get your child immediately the following morning.
- Stick to nap time routine, do not miss it.
- Show the toys and how to play to use for self soothing. Repeat routine.
- Repeat for days 3-5
- Remember: don’t break the rules, and stay strong.
Note on Crying:
Babies cry because they are conditioned to eat in the night. Many parents make the mistake of feeding babies over three months in the middle of the night. Eating actually stimulates babies and makes falling asleep harder. And, if their stomachs are used to a 3:00 am feeding, guess what happens every night at 3 am? Their stomach wakes them up. (If your spouse brought you your favorite food at 3 am for a few nights, wouldn’t you start waking up?)
This is simply a habit you need to break. You can offer water or a pat on the back, but don’t offer food.
In my 30 years of having parents do this, I have never seen a baby take longer than 7 days to quit awakening parents in the night. Most do it in 3-4 days but the really stubborn kids take a little longer. That being said, I hope this guide takes some of the confusion and trauma out of tackling sleep training with your new baby.