How To Sleep Train Your Baby
While it is true that sleep training is way tougher on you than your baby, that doesnt mean you need to suffer while you navigate this big baby milestone. In fact, sleep training doesnt have to mean buckets of tears for you or your baby! Heres everything you need to know about sleep training basics, from when to start sleep training to how.
Day : Practice Makes Perfect
On day two, focus on building the consistent routine you began. If your child still requires nighttime feedings, it’s a good time to accentuate the difference between day and night, says Robert Ballard, M.D., director of the Sleep Health Center at National Jewish Medical Center, in Denver. “Keep night feedings very relaxing, with the lights low. Do everything you can to avoid stimulating your baby,” he says. “And during the day, make feedings a time of high activity, when you tickle their feet or sing songs, so they begin to perceive the difference.”
Pay careful attention to what soothes your baby in the evening too. “A bath may be calming for one child and invigorating for another,” Lerner says. You might also want to try adding white noise, says Carl Johnson, Ph.D., a psychologist and pediatric sleep researcher at Central Michigan University, in Mount Pleasant. “The hum of a fan or air conditioner or a radio set on static works well for many infants. The good thing about white noise is that you can fade it out over time, once your baby begins to sleep more predictably.”
The Struggle Is Normal
Have you had nights where its tricky to fall asleep? Im guessing yes. Babies are no different and will likely have times when they struggle with going to bed. By remembering that this occasional struggle is normal, and offering baby opportunities to figure out ways to soothe themselves back to sleep , youre setting them up for long term sleep success.
And, if the Feed Play Sleep routine, and optimal sleep zone doesnt immediately turn your baby into a sleep-trained-wonder, give it time. Like any routine exercising, calling your mom every week, or eating 25 grams of fiber daily there will be a period of adjustment before it clicks and you wonder how you ever got through life without it.
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Pick Up Put Down Method
This sleep training technique involves you going through your baby’s normal bedtime routine, then putting her down to bed drowsy but awake. When and if she cries, wait a few minutes to see if she settles down herself. If not, go in to pick her up and soothe her. When she’s calm again, put her back down in the crib or bassinet.
Repeat the process until your baby falls asleep. Just be aware that this sleep training method can take a long time, and requires a good deal of patience.
When Do Babies Learn To Fall Asleep On Their Own
Newborns need their parents to sing a routine of lullabies and bounce and rock them before bedtime. These tender actions go a long way toward soothing and regulating their tiny nervous systems coaxing them to nod off in their cribs. As they grow, they gain the ability to self-soothe, which is a helpful habit that allows a babys innate sleep skills to take over and shine.
Learning to fall asleep on her own and go back to sleep when she wakes up, is an important skill that you can help her learn when shes old enough. The consensus among pediatricians is that babies can fall asleep on their own when they are between 3 to 4 months old.
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How To Sleep Train A Baby
There are various schools of thought on sleep training. Some sleep-training methods fall under the umbrella of gentle sleep training, which generally means youre still going to pick up, rock and soothe baby if she cries. Other methods, often under the extinction label, advise parents to let baby self-soothe for the entire night and not open the door until morning. Neither of these methods are right or wrongit all depends on what works best for you and your family.
Some moms have found working with a sleep coach or joining a Facebook sleep group to be helpful for support, tips and advice. We ended up hiring a sleep coach, which was helpful because she could talk us through any questions or issues and show that we were on the right track, Robin says.
When Should You Not Sleep Train
Do not sleep train a baby if they arent ready if they are too young for the method if they are sick or teething, or when there is a significant life change . These times should be spent focusing on healthy sleep habits rather than formal sleep training.
One of the most common reasons why parents fail at sleep training their children is because of the timing. It is one of the things that parents usually miss out on. And if you start early for sleep training your baby, you are expected to fail. Here are some examples of when you should not sleep train your baby.
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Don’t Underestimate The Abilities Of Children To Self
Many sleep training researchers firmly believe the former. “Don’t underestimate the abilities of children to self-regulate,” says Hall, the paediatric sleep researcher who used actigraphy in her study of 235 Canadian families. “Parents can help them learn to self-regulate by giving them opportunities to self-regulate. That’s how you can look at self-soothing it’s an opportunity to calm themselves down.”
It’s difficult to measure objectively whether babies are truly soothing themselves, or have just given up calling for help.
One way could be to measure cortisol, which is often known as the stress hormone. But cortisol rises and falls in response to factors besides stress, and the studies that have measured it have had mixed results. One found that the babies’ cortisol levels were elevated right after a sleep intervention, but there was no control group of un-trained babies to compare it to. The small study of 43 infants found that cortisol declined, but it didn’t measure cortisol until a week after the intervention. And in an attempt to find out whether sleep training led to elevated stress levels long-term, a third study, Hiscock’s longitudinal study in Australia, took cortisol samples five years later and found no difference between the cohorts.
The upsides of responding
Throughout infancy and toddlerhood, the brain relies on “co-regulation” the aid of a soothing caregiver to calm down
Eventually With Or Without Training Most Children Stop Requiring A Caregiver’s Help At Night
Whether families choose to sleep train or not, there is good news: eventually, with or without training, most children stop requiring a caregiver’s help at night.
One study of more than 4,000 children, for example, found that 71% of five-month-olds who regularly woke at night stopped night wakes by 20 months, and 89% ceased by 4.5 years old. .
The bottom line on sleep training?
“It’s only worth doing when parents want to do it and see it as an issue they need help with,” says Hiscock. “I meet parents who might be up three, four, five times a night, but they’re happy to be, or they’re coping and managing with that.”
Mindell agrees. “If you’re rocking a baby to sleep at four months of age, they’re waking once a night, it’s working for the family, why would you mess with success? Why would you do sleep training?
“We only really recommend it when there’s a problem,” she says.
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The Cry It Out Method
The Cry It Out sleep training method is also known as extinction, full extinction, or CIO for short. With this method, parents take their baby through a bedtime routine, cuddle with them and give them a kiss goodnight, and then leave the room. If the baby cries, the parent does not respond. Eventually, the baby tires themselves out from crying or self-soothes back to sleep.
This method is well-known, and in some cases, notorious. Many parents feel uncomfortable with letting their baby cry out and not comforting them. They worry it will elevate the babys stress levels, cause trauma, and lead the child to think they cant rely on their parents to be there for them. Its also very difficult for many parents to hear their baby cry and not be able to help them.
On the other hand, proponents say that it works, and quickly. Many parents say their baby is sleep trained within a few days with the CIO method.
Can Babies Learn To Fall Asleep On Their Own Without Sleep Training
Some babies are angel babies and sleep well early on and continue to sleep well into toddlerhood. Their parents are the lucky ones and are far and few between. Most babies dont magically fall asleep on their own without some parental intervention.
If youre looking for a customized sleep solution or some support making changes with your little ones sleep, book a free call with me today!
Katie Roeder is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Owner and Founder of Happily Ever After Sleep. She is a wife and mom to two girls who weren’t always the best sleepers. After leaving her longtime career and focusing on her family Katie found a sleep solution that changed her family’s lives. Katie is passionate about sleep and loves supporting exhausted mamas through sleep coaching. She believes that everyone deserves a full night of rest and it’s never too late to make a change. Katie coaches families 1:1 from the Newborn stage through school aged children. You can find more information at www.happilyeveraftersleep.com.
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When Are Parents Ready
The ideal time to sleep train your baby is when everyone in the family is ready including all caregivers AND your baby. Parents are ready when they and all other caregivers are aligned and willing to allow their baby to express their opinion about the new routines.
Baby will object! And, thats normal.
Babies do cry when learning new skills, but our focus is not preventing tears. Instead, our goal is to make the entire process as safe and easy as possible for your baby and prevent weeks or months of confusion and crying.
Although everyone is different, I see that the families we work with are ready for sleep training when theyre ready for their baby to sleep in their own room, reduce to one night feed, and give the baby space to sleep for 10-12 hours .
I also know from my own experience that it is hard to leave your beloved little boy or girl alone to get the pouty mouth that comes with figuring out they arent going to be picked up and cuddled 24/7.
We are wired to want to respond to their cries and comfort them. I had to think of this when I felt weak, I am overshadowing his self-soothing skills and getting in the way of his independence. Plus, Im not trying to be dramatic here, but you need your rest. Getting enough sleep is crucial to your health, and a lack of it can cause lower quality of life.
Key Takeaways And Next Steps
Sleep training your little one is never an easy task. Just be patient and support your child with all the love and affection, and you will surely get through this tough time. Furthermore, your babys regression is just a temporary event that usually happens to all babies.
You can try out the methods listed above. And if any of these methods are not your cup of tea, then you can always opt for a different method that will surely suit you and your babys taste.
And if you need help figuring out which method to choose going forward? Read this guide: Best Sleep Training Methods for Babies Under 6 Months. It says for under 6 months, but it can help most parents figure out which method is right for them. Good luck!
Cite this article as: Can You Sleep Train During a Regression? Sleep Training Kids, 16 April 2022, sleeptrainingkids.com/can-you-sleep-train-during-a-regression/.
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Tip #: Feed Your Baby During The Day
While in a regression, babies tend to be so distracted or they easily lose their focus while eating. You may limit distractions by creating an environment plainer or somewhat dull or you can just keep everything away from your babys sight that you think might make them lose their focus while eating. You can turn off the television or turn off any music.
Feeding your baby well during the day ensures that your baby will not wake up in the middle of the night crying because of hunger. In addition to that, when your baby wakes up crying, avoid feeding them as they might expect you to make this response every time they cry when waking up.
Strategy #6 Remain As Calm And Relaxed As Possible About The Sleep Issue
If you are frustrated and angry when you deal with your child in the night, your child will inevitably pick up your vibes, even if youre trying hard to hide your feelings.Accepting the fact that some babies take a little longer to learn the sleep ropes and feeling confident that you can solve your childs sleep problems will make it easier to cope with the middle-of-the-night sleep interruptions.Scientific studies have shown that parents who have realistic expectations about parenthood and who feel confident in their own abilities to handle parenting difficulties find it easier to handle sleep challenges.
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Key Ingredients For The Sleep Zone
Becoming a pro at the Feed Play Sleep routine, and transitioning baby to sleepy time when theyre primed for zzzs is great, but if their sleep environment is not ideal all your routine efforts might be pointless.
To help ensure your baby stays asleep for as long as their tiny body needs, mix the following goodies into your babys sleep zone:
- Darkness. Bust out the black-out curtains in your babys room, as darkness tells the brain to release melatonin, a hormone thats critical for sleep. To help baby associate darkness with sleepiness, and brightness with playfulness, keep them in well-lit rooms when youre in the feed and play portions of your daily routine.
- Cool Temperature. Stickiness and sweatiness: two things that are super distracting when youre trying to sleep. Set your baby up for satisfying sleep by helping them stay cool.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a baby be dressed in light clothing for sleep and to keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult, which is generally a cooler temperature. In addition, a study published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine reported that using a fan during sleep reduced the risk of SIDS by 72%.
Not only will these ingredients help baby go to sleep but will also offer cues that its still time for sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night.
How To Cope Until You Can Sleep Train Your Baby
Your newborns short, unpredictable snoozes and round-the-clock feedings can understandably leave you drained. But its a completely normal part of her development and one that wont last for very long.
That’s why sleep training and schedules should wait until your baby is older and more developmentally ready.
In the meantime, keep the coffee brewing, sneak in naps whenever you can and dont be afraid to ask for help so you can get a little more rest. A few months from now, youll be past this stage of extreme sleep deprivation even if you cant quite remember how you made it through!
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
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When Can I Sleep Train My Baby
When you have a new baby, you expect to get a little less sleep at night. After a few months you may begin to wonder when your baby will sleep through the night. You might even have well-meaning friends and family tell you that you should start sleep training your baby. Sleep training is the process of helping your baby learn to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Although your baby might have an easy time doing this, other babies struggle sleeping through the night. If your baby isnt sleeping well, it might be time to sleep train.
The Best Sleep Training Method For Newborns
Because newborns have limited abilities to self-soothe, its important that we have realistic expectations. Most newborns will still need to eat at night, for example. Depending on the age of your baby, they might need to eat every 2-3 hours at night until they are 6-12 weeks old at which time they might start to do at least one 5-8-hour stretch (the technical definition of sleeping through the night.
But, even though your newborn likely needs to eat at night, it doesnt mean you cant start sleep training. We do sleep training with babies all the time while also keeping night feedings!
So, what is the best sleep training method for newborns?
There are a variety of sleep training methods but for newborns, I prefer a gentler approach. That would include either Fading and/or Pick-Up/Put-Down. And, you can combine the two methods to have a hands-on gentle sleep coaching approach.
Using a gentle approach is helpful so you can test the waters and gradually help your baby gain the skills they need for self-soothing. When you rip off the band-aid this can be very stressful and, often, doesnt work. It is important to focus on health, bonding, and feeding in the early days so you dont want to do something that might inadvertently disrupt that. Sleep training too harshly too early can possibly lead to skipped feedings and a lot of crying, and we dont want that if we can avoid that.
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