If your young child continually refuses to go to bed and you just feel exhausted after a day of doing house chores or going to work, it is time that you try out some new tactics to put your child to sleep. Sleep training is not an easy and simple task to do.
As a matter of fact, it would take a lot of planning, patience and dedication from you as a mother. But you can bet that it will be all worth it. In just a matter of weeks, you should see your baby sleeping through.
Why Is Sleep Training Necessary?
There are babies who love to sleep. You just need to wait for them to get past the newborn stage, and you can almost surely see them watching their eyes slowly and fall asleep so quickly. However, there are babies who just don’t want to go to sleep!
If your child is just not born a natural sleep-lover, this should not cause you too much concern. Of course you could get so annoyed that you have to get up almost every night just to cuddle, rock or simply soothe her back so she could go back to sleep.
While doing these things is seen as a natural obligation for parents, you also have to worry about what the effects of sleep deprivation on you are.
Not getting enough sleep could affect your moods, your health and well-being as well as your relationship with your child. It would naturally occur to you that you both owe to each other how well you both sleep at night.
Sleep training your child is necessary if you think that your lack of sleep is already affecting your quality of life. Many parents end up successful with their sleep training, so there is no reason why you should not try it as well.
What Is Sleep Training All About?
Sleep training is simply about teaching your baby to go to sleep on her own, rather than always relying on you to put her to sleep.
This process would require a lot of effort from you for it to succeed. Remember that your sleep training efforts will not yield positive results if you are not determined enough to see it through.
Before you start sleep training your child, there are certain questions you need to ask yourself first:
- Is your child over 6 months? If not, it is very unlikely that this sleep training will work.
- Is your child settled and healthy? You shouldn’t even think about sleep training a baby who is either ill or still unaccustomed to the surroundings.
- Are you ready for the challenges? Almost all of the unsuccessful sleep-training efforts are due to the parent’s lack of determination, which causes them to give up early on.
How to Get Started
- Talk to a health practitioner about your plans of sleep training your baby.
- Be sure that you talk to your partner about this plan so that you could both be ready to support each other in this process.
- Make sure that you do not keep yourself busy with other activities before you start with this plan.
- Be patient enough to battle with your child’s will. You have to understand that your child is so used to her old routine, and it will naturally be hard for her to get accustomed to a new one.
- Be ready to be firm and not think that being consistent is cruel or mean to your child. Your baby will not stop loving you even as you try to set boundaries with her at night.
Teaching Your Child to Sleep Alone
Your main goal is to help your child learn how to go to sleep on her own. You can start by setting a quiet and relaxing bedtime routine. Just like the common bath, feed, story routine.
Then tuck her into bed when she’s already sleepy yet still awake. Slowly turn off the light and kiss her goodnight.
It would help if you could tuck in beside her a teddy bear, for instance, but this is not advisable for kids under 12 months.
What to Do Next?
If your baby cries before you get out of the room…
Go back to her bed quietly, and when she cries, just say goodnight once again. You may also just stroke her cheek or hand to make her feel assured.
On the second night, do the same, but this time you should move your chair further from her bed. On the third night, you should move farther until you are actually sitting next to the door.
If your baby cries after you left her…
You can do the same thing if she cries as you leave the room. Come to her and make her feel secure, and then slowly walk back and out the door. You may need to do this repeatedly until she is settled and asleep.
Ways to Ensure that Your Baby Sleeps Safely
Sleep patterns in babies differ with some babies sleeping well through the night, while there are others who have short bursts of sleep only.
Keeping the baby safe while it sleeps is an important thing to consider as there are many cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) that are being reported. Here are some ways you can ensure your baby gets safe and sufficient sleep.
Establishing Sleep Routine
Each baby has its own sleeping pattern and will probably not be in synch with your sleep needs.
The early weeks of your baby while you are breastfeeding will be quite tiring as you will have to sleep when the baby sleeps and be awake when it does even if it is in the middle of the night.
Teaching babies the difference between day and night right away will help them establish a proper routine.
During the day, you can keep the windows open, play games, and keep the baby active. At night, you can keep the lights dimmed, and maintain the noise level down.
Immediately after feeding put the baby down, keep him or her restful and avoid changing unless it is needed.
Getting the Proper Crib
During the initial six months, the baby needs to sleep with you in the same room. During the first four to six weeks, babies nod off when you are holding them or when you stay near them. You can put the baby down before it falls asleep or immediately after a feed. While using a crib, you need to ensure the following:
- Make sure it meets the safety standards.
- The crib should have a firm mattress with a well-fitting sheet on it.
- Avoid using stuffed animals, toys or bumpers inside a crib. These can cause injury or suffocation.
- The crib should be kept away from windows, drapes, and wall mounts.
Letting the baby sleep in a crib is better than having him or her with you in the bed. Keep the crib in a convenient and safe place where you can feed the baby easily.
In case of bunk beds, you need to have strong and sturdy guard rails that do not leave any space between the cot and the rail.
SIDS is one of the main causes of death in infants. Risk factors include presence of soft mattress, pillow, sofa or other sleeping surfaces and covering of the face by bedding that can lead to asphyxia. Smoking whether during pregnancy or when the baby is born can also cause SIDS.
To avoid SIDS from happening, you have to make the baby sleep on its back and ensure that its head is not covered.
Keeping the crib, mattress, and sheets safely secured and inside your room for the first six months is necessary. Avoiding smoking inside the room where the baby is present will also help.
Overheating during sleep can also increase chances of cot death. Make sure the baby has sufficient covering only. Blankets that are light in weight will be enough to keep the baby warm.
Make sure you do not keep electric blankets, hot water bottle or extra bedding so that the baby is free of getting suffocated. Keeping your baby safe when it sleeps needs close attention and the necessary precautions should always be followed.