Sleep, Sleep, Horray!
Sleep Training is such a hot parenting topic right now. It strikes strong debate. And often times, you don't really care about it until you are at your wits end, running on no sleep, and quite possibly desperate. Simply put though, sleep training is giving your little one the opportunity to form skills for independent sleep. And there are so many methods of sleep training, but these are the main ones you will see.
This method involves putting your baby down awake, but showing signs of sleepiness, yawning, or rubbing their eyes. This method allows baby to CIO until they fall asleep on their own. Parents may feel that this method is harsh, but some studies show that this method, while it has higher levels of stress, is for a shorter period of time. This method can be used for short amounts of time, before going in to comfort, or for longer periods of time. The goal with this method is not for baby to cry, it's ultimately about baby learning to soothe themselves. The thinking behind this method is that the baby will spend fewer nights upset, as they may learn more quickly to self soothe.
While often associated with the Cry-It-Out method, Dr. Ferber never actually said those words. But, he did think that crying was a natural part of sleep for many babies. His methods about self-soothing let you as the parent decide the predetermined time to be out of the room while crying, letting those intervals increase with each visit. The intervals become longer with each passing night, suggesting that by night 3 or 4, baby should be falling into a pattern of self soothing, with you not being needed to put them back to sleep. It is suggested that if baby has not gotten into a routine by a week of trying, to try again a few weeks later.
Much like the Ferber method, this one eases into baby self soothing through intervals, but this one in distance not time. Essentially having a chair that is easily movable is sat next to their crib the first night as you put them down awake, but sleepy. Gradually moving the chair further from the crib, and reassuring the baby with less stimulation I.e, starting being picked up, then later a pat and shush, then finally just a shush. Eventually the chair will be outside of the room, and baby will be checked on less and less until making it a full nights sleep.
If you are at all considering any method of sleep training talk with your pediatrician. Most doctors will tell you that between 4-6months is an ideal time to start sleep training, as they can go the night without a feed, and have developed a rhythm for their days. Not to say that your baby will not sleep through the night before that time, but this is the developmental stage where you are most likely to find success.
Doctors pretty much agree that a consistent routine during the day, leads to better night-time sleeping habits. Babies should have about 4-5 hours worth of napping a day around 4-5 months. When they are not getting the consistent naps they need, they will often be too exhausted to sleep at night, making for tears at bedtime rather than yawns.
Consistent Bedtime Routines
When that magical hour rolls around, what are you doing to let your baby know that it is bedtime? Including a routine such as a bath, a change into pajamas, and a song can start to signal that bedtime is coming and start cueing the sleepiness.
The dreaded Transfer from feeding to crib, or being rocked in your arms to being laid down can be so frustrating as they wake right back up after putting them down. Most sleep training methods make putting baby down in the crib awake a prerequisite. Waking up in a different place than where you went to sleep can be disturbing for anyone, and babies are no exception.
You are the parent, and your sleep, and baby's sleep are important. But if a certain method is not working for you, you do not have to continue to be miserable. A postpartum doula can help if you are at that point, or if you just need some encouragement as you troubleshoot sleep issues. Sleep training doesn't have to be scary. You and your baby getting good sleep could be a game changer.