Every new parent dreams about getting a decent amount of sleep, but with your baby waking up constantly throughout the night this is often not so easy to achieve. Babies are born wanting and needing closeness to his parents, especially his mother. If you are breastfeeding your baby will be even more attached to his mommy.
Sleeping alone is not something that your baby will be used to and he will need to learn how to self soothe and how to fall asleep alone. This can take a few days or it can take much longer (weeks or even months) depending on your child and on the method of sleep training that you use.
Some babies are just terrible sleepers and you will need to find ways to cope with not getting any sleep for a long time.
It is important to start a good night time routine before attempting sleep training, this will help your baby understand that bed time is approaching.
It is a good idea to wait until your baby is past the “fourth trimester” as before that your baby is still so small and really needs the closeness and security of his mom.
If your baby is at least 3 months old you can start looking into some of these methods to teach your baby to self soothe and go to sleep on his own.
Cry It Out Sleep Training Method
The “cry it out” method is probably the most well known sleep training method. This involves putting your baby in his cot and leaving the room. You don’t go back and check on your baby and leave your baby to cry it out.
You also leave your baby to cry if he wakes up during the night so that he learns how to fall asleep again on his own. It usually takes 2 – 4 nights for your baby to stop crying and to start falling asleep on his own.
The pro of this method is that within just a few short days your baby will be sleeping and you probably won’t be disturbed much at night anymore so you can get your much needed rest.
The negative is that the reason your baby does not cry anymore is because he knows that his parents won’t come to him, there is an element of broken trust here. You will also need to be able to withstand hearing your baby cry for a few nights without going to him.
You need to decide for yourself and your family if this is the method that you want to take.
Ferber Sleep Training Method
This method is slightly gentler than the cry it out method. While it involves putting your baby down and letting your baby cry you do go in to check on your baby periodically. This method is also known as the “check and console” method.
You can start with checking in on your baby every 10 minutes the first night. You don’t pick your baby up but you can console your baby with a pat and talking to him. You can stay for a few minutes with your baby each time.
The next night you stretch the time to check on your baby every 15 minutes and make the time spent with your baby shorter too. Every night you can increase the time you check in by 5 minutes.
You are not helping your child to fall asleep but you are consoling your baby and letting him know you are still around.
The Chair Sleep Training Method
This method involves you not leaving your baby alone at all, but you may actually have more tears. The process is to do your normal bedtime routine with your baby and then put your baby down in his cot to go to sleep. You sit in a chair next to the cot until your baby falls asleep. Every night you move the chair a little further away from the cot.
With this method you should not engage with your baby, you are not there to help your child fall asleep or calm your child down. You are only there to ensure that your child is not alone.
This method can actually be quite confusing for your baby since he won’t understand why you are “ignoring” him. It can also be quite distressing for the baby and parent.
The Pick Up Put Down Sleep Training Method
This sleep training method is a gentle approach and involves putting your baby down to sleep but if your baby cries you pick him up and calm him down before putting him back into his crib to sleep. You keep doing this until your baby falls asleep.
This method requires a lot of patience and can be very tiring for the parents. One risk of this method is that your baby may actually get stimulated by being picked up and put down all the time which will have a negative effect on getting your baby to sleep.
The Fading Sleep Method
This is the gentlest method for sleep training your child but it will involve the most work and patience from the parents. This method involves helping your baby to sleep like you normally would but over time you give less and less help, leaving your baby to do more of the work.
So for example if you would normally rock your baby to sleep then rock your baby to where he is nearly asleep and then put him down so that when your baby falls asleep it is on his own. Then rock your baby for a little less time each night.
Co Sleeping Sleep Training
When parents practice attachment parenting they will often breastfeed and co sleep for as long as possible which certainly makes sleep training a little trickier than if you had your baby in his own crib in his own room.
This does not mean that you cannot sleep train your baby, you will just need to get a little more creative.
If you are attachment parenting then the harsher methods of sleep training just won’t suit your parenting style so you would need to look at the gentler sleep training options, preferably the fading sleep method.
It would be best to get a co sleeper bassinet that fits next to your bed. This will mean that your baby has a safe place to sleep on his own while still being close to your bed. It will also mean that over time everyone will get a better night’s sleep. You can find great bassinet reviews at WiseMamma.
If you are still breastfeeding it can be a bit tricky with your baby lying so close to you, he will be able to smell you. If this is the case get daddy to sleep next to the baby instead of you. This may help your baby to sleep for longer periods at night.
Try giving your baby something that they can use to self soothe when you start sleep training such as a baby lovely which is safe from around 6 months of age.
While it is a fact that co sleeping with your baby will make sleep training much harder and most likely take much longer to do, keep in mind that it is a very gentle approach and your baby will feel very much loved and secure during this process.
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Also published on Medium.