Is Sleep Training Safe
There has been ample long-term research studying sleep training, and there is no evidence that sleep training is physically or psychologically damaging to babies and children. In fact, its been known to improve parental mood, improves an infants sleep quality and increases the secure attachment between babies and their caregivers. As long as your baby is old enough and is in a safe environment, sleep training is perfectly safe and healthy.
How To Get Your Newborn To Sleep Alone
Babies sleep a lot almost constantly in their newborn stage. They wake for food, comfort, and diaper changes, and then its back to dreamland.
As weve said, implementing a bedtime routine early wont affect your newborn immediately, but it can do some good for you as a mom to try out which steps work for you and which dont. Its also a great way to test your theories on why your baby has trouble sleeping alone.
There are a few steps to establishing a bedtime routine.
Don’t Rely On Soothing Methods
“If you put your baby in the crib when they’re already asleep and they wake up in the night, which all humans do, they won’t recognize their surroundings and will need your help getting back to sleep,” notes Dr. Givan. “Try to put your baby down drowsy but awake.” This will help them learn to self-soothe and fall asleepand, more importantly, fall back to sleepon their own, which is the main goal of sleep training.
Adrienne Porzio of Centerport, New York, can attest to this. She began driving her newborn around at night to get her to fall asleepand she was still relying on that crutch when her daughter was 5 months old. “The issue we get the most calls about is parents automatically repeating soothing habits to the point that the baby is hooked,” says Los Angeles sleep consultant Heather Turgeon, coauthor of The Happy Sleeper. Newborns benefit from rocking, bouncing, and soothing to sleep, but babies develop quickly and don’t need those things forever.
“By about 5 months, most babies have the capability to fall asleep on their own, and if we’re still doing it for them, we’re getting in their way,” says Turgeon. “Start practicing in the early months to put Baby down awake, at least once a dayusually the first nap is the most successful.” Keep your cuddle time, but gradually stop the patting and shushing and rocking to sleep.
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Help Your Little One Learn To Fall Asleep In His Bed
The next step is to wait until your baby is almost asleep in the chair with you holding him, then stand and hold him still in your arms in his sleeping position until he is almost asleep and accepts the stillness. If he protests, rock him in your arms as he falls asleep, while youre standing. Again, do this for a week until he is used to this routine.
The next step is to begin lowering him into the crib or bed still awake although almost asleep. When he protests — which of course he will — pick him up again in the rocking position and rock a little, then stop. Keep repeating this. It may well take 25 attempts, but eventually he will let you put him into the bed without protest. Be patient. You’re almost home!
When Should You Stop Rocking Your Baby To Sleep
While there are many benefits to rocking a baby, rocking too much might discourage your child from falling asleep on their own. A sleep association can develop in response to rocking, in which case your baby becomes dependent on this activity in order to fall asleep . If a sleep association develops with rocking, your child may struggle to initiate sleep in your absence.
Infants require a lot of sleep, including naps throughout the day. Its a good idea, however, to establish a sleep association with nighttime as they grow older. Since daytime rocking can create powerful sleep cues for your child, you might consider reserving rocking for the evening. If your baby shows signs of sleep difficulty, either in falling or staying asleep, then it might be time to scale back on rocking.
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Settling Babies Aged 0 To 6 Months
Babies need to learn the skill of going to sleep and parents can help.
In the first 6 months, you could try holding your baby in your arms until they fall asleep. Use gentle rhythmic patting, rocking, stroking, talking, or softly singing before putting your baby into the cot asleep. These repetitions signal relaxation and sleep.
You could also try ‘hands-on settling’, where you place the baby in the cot awake and gently pat or stroke them till they fall asleep, comforting them with gentle ‘ssshhh’ sounds.
If your baby becomes or stays distressed, pick them up for a cuddle until calm or asleep before putting your baby back in the cot. Stay with them until they fall asleep.
Dont Assume The Mellow Sleepy Newborn Phase Will Last Forever
We hate to break it to you, but your dozy, peaceful infant who simply falls asleep, milk-drunk, after a feeding may not always be this way. The first few weeks are not always indicative of the kind of sleeper you happened to score in the newborn sleep lottery. Some babies randomly sleep through the night early on but it doesnt mean this will continue indefinitely. Have you weathered the four-month sleep regression yet? Yeah, you might want to read up on that. And even though nursing to sleep or rocking to sleep before naps and bedtime might be working for you now, know that sometimes IT JUST STOPS WORKING. If youre one of the lucky parents with a unicorn baby , try not to gloat. It doesnt necessarily mean that youre doing it right, while that other mom with the colicky, sleepless baby hasnt figured it out. Believe us, shes trying.
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Some Baby Sleep Cues Include:
yawning zoning out/sleepy & glazed over eyes long blinks/heavy eyelids frowning making grunting noises
And, of course, once theyve shown some early signs of being tired, one of the most noticeable signs of tiredness is:
Try to get your baby into bed and asleep before they get to the crying stage of tired. Doing this will make your, and your babys, life so much easier.
Before you start ANY form of sleep training , you should have this on hand.
Put Your Baby Down To Sleep When Theyre Drowsy
Try to put your baby into their crib while theyre still drowsy but not completely asleep. This way, your baby learns to fall asleep on their own and, when they awake in the middle of the night, they have a better chance of falling back asleep.
How do you put a baby to bed when theyre drowsy but still awake? For starters, keep an eye on babys sleep patterns early on including naps.
Remember, from birth to 3 months, your baby is spending anywhere from 14-18 hours sleeping each day. So, by keep tracking of their typical sleep cycle, you can anticipate when theyll be ready for sleep. You can also watch for classic sleep cues like yawning, eye rubbing or fussiness.
Ill admit, as a new dad myself, this is easier said than done. But consistency does pay off and routines like this will help your baby fall asleep faster and easier.
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Dealing With Baby Sleep Problems
All babies change their sleep patterns. Just when you think you have it sorted and you’ve all had a good night’s sleep, the next night you might be up every 2 hours.
Be prepared to change routines as your baby grows and enters different stages. And remember, growth spurts, teething and illnesses can all affect how your baby sleeps.
If your baby is having problems sleeping or you need more advice about getting into a routine, speak to your health visitor.
How Do You Get Your Baby To Go To Sleep And Sleep Through The Night
He may accomplish that milestone on his own, soon. Or he may need a little help from you to learn how to put himself to sleep, not just at bedtime but throughout the night. All humans have sleep cycles that take us into slightly wakened states during the night, and we all need to learn the skill of falling back into a deep sleep.
You’ll be interested to know that most babies around the world either do not fall asleep without being held, or do not sleep all night long in their own crib. It simply isn’t a “normal” thing for babies to do, biologically speaking. But all babies can learn to sleep alone, if you’re up for teaching.
The key to supporting your baby to learn to fall asleep on her own is to remember that all humans wake slightly many times during the night, as they transition during sleep cycles. So the key is for the baby to learn to fall back asleep when they wake, without your help.
Happily, that can be done without traumatizing your child. Do you need to sleep-train? No. You can teach babies to fall asleep without the sleep associations of rocking or sucking, and without leaving them to cry. This is not an overnight process — it can take months — but it does work. And once they know how to fall asleep by themselves , they are more likely to be able to put themselves back to sleep when they wake slightly at night, rather than calling for your help.
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Does Rocking Your Baby To Sleep Help
Many bleary-eyed parents know how challenging it can be to get your baby to fall asleep. There are many different methods to encourage sleep, such as swaddling, massaging, singing, and walking. Like the time-honored lullaby, rocking can be effective at putting your baby to sleep when used correctly. Learn how and when rocking should be used in order to get the best results.
Baby Sound Machines And White Noise: Potentially Effective But Be Careful About Keeping The Volume Low
A number of toys and electronic devices are marketed as baby sleep soothers or baby sound machines. These typically emit white noise. Do they actually help babies snooze?
Theres reason to think so. For example, in an experimental study of newborns, 80% of infants assigned to hear playbacks of white noise fell asleep spontaneously within 5 minutes. Only 25% of control infants fell asleep spontaneously .
But its crucial to keep the volume turned down, especially if the machine is placed close to the infant. You dont want to harm your babys hearing.
When researchers investigated 14 different white noise machines being marketed for infants, they found that all of them could be turned up to dangerously high volumes volumes that would expose an infant 30 cm away to more than 50 decibels.
And three of the machines at this distance produced sound in excess of 80 decibels enough, when exposed for more than 8 hours a day, to put an adult at risk for hearing loss .
This might sound like a major spoiler. Whats the point of using a white noise machine if you cant turn up the volume high enough blot out other sounds?
But I suspect thats the wrong premise. We dont need to blot out all background sounds in order to aid sleep. Instead, certain types of muffled, rhythmic sound may influence sleep by encouraging the brain to adopt or maintain the slower, rhythmic brain waves associated with sleep .
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Consider Moving Away From Feeding Your Baby To Sleep
If your baby is falling asleep while drinking from the bottle or breast, they arent actually self-soothing or learning to self-soothe.
Although this is a fairly simple change to most sleep routines, it can lead to some upset crying as your child is required to find other ways to soothe themselves asleep.
Particularly in the beginning, you may need to stand next to the crib offering verbal assurances or even the occasional back rub as your child learns to self-soothe without the aid of liquids and full body human contact.
How Much Do Babies Sleep
For the first few months, there isnt a normal amount of time or time of day that babies usually sleep. They might be a sound and consistent sleeper during the first couple weeks of life and youll be thrilled. But your babys sleeping patterns will likely change as they become more awake and aware. Even so, it will be awhile before your baby is awake more than theyre asleep.
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How To Sleep Train Your Baby
Are you a slave to the baby monitor? Breaking your child’s bad sleep habits is one of the most important things you can do for their healthand yours. Follow these tips to get your baby to sleep through the night.
During the early days of life with a newborn, you’re focused on what’s best for the baby, so sleepless nights seem like a small price to pay. By week six, however, waking up every few hours starts to get old. And by month three, you’re pretending to be asleep, hoping that your partner will get up first and fetch a bottle. You can’t remember what it feels like not to be tired.
The good news is that most babies begin sleeping through the night between 3 and 4 months of age if you let them, says Charles Schaefer, Ph.D., author of Winning Bedtime Battles: Getting Your Child to Sleep. The key is avoiding bad sleep habits that can stick with you for years. Our expert seven-day plan will guarantee a good night’s sleep for you and your baby, with a minimum of crying along the way.
Toys And Other Comfort Objects: Do They Promote Better Sleep
Pillows, stuffed toys, blankets, and other soft objects can pose an asphyxiation hazard to babies under 12 months of age. So safety experts urge that we keep such objects out of a young infants crib or cot.
But suppose you had a toy or other comfort object that didnt pose a risk. Are such items effective infant sleep aids?
It might seem like a no-brainer if you grew up in certain Western countries. Giving comfort objects to sleep with is a common folk practice one designed to help children fall asleep on their own.
But when researchers investigated the phenomenon in babies, they didnt find any evidence that comfort objects have any discernible effect on an infants ability to fall asleep independently.
The study tracked infants in four age groups over a period of 3 months .
Infants were videotaped in their own homes while they slept, and scored as self-soothing if, after awakening during the night, they managed to fall back to sleep without parental intervention.
Researchers also noted where babies slept, and whether or not the babies touched, held or sucked on any objects during the night objects that included pacifiers, toys, blankets, and the babies own hands.
How did things turn out? Babies were more likely to use comfort objects if they were put to bed while still awake. And, overall, about 90% of babies used some sort of infant sleep aid, at least occasionally.
But there was no significant correlation between self-soothing and using a comfort object.
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