Expert / 19 March, 2021 / Andrea Grace
Not all babies need help to sleep at night, and not every parent agrees with “sleep training,” but if you and your baby are struggling with lack of sleep, you might like to look at some options and see what sleep training actually entails.
You can improve your baby’s sleep, and what is more, if you get it right, your baby will benefit even more than you will. After the age of 6 months old, if they are not sleeping well, it is unlikely that he or she will be able to improve their sleep without your help.
Basically, there are two main methods of sleep training and both of them, if consistently applied will usually work.
These two sleep training methods are:
There are lots of books available on babies’ sleep; some claiming to have a new and failsafe solution to all of your problems. The truth is that all sleep training methods are really variations on the two approaches above.
Healthy babies of six months or more, and for parents who are able to allow their baby to cry it out. It is an effective option for families needing a quick solution to their baby’s sleep problem and it usually works within 3 nights.
Not suitable for:
Younger babies; those who are unwell, or have special needs. It is not an acceptable method for parents who can’t leave their baby to cry.
Babies of over 3 months. This method is especially good for babies with ongoing medical or developmental difficulties. It will suit parents who don’t want to leave their babies to cry.
Not suitable for:
Parents in need of a speedy solution.
Parents who are unable to commit to sitting beside their baby for lengthy periods during the night.
For sleep training to be really successful, you also have to look at other factors than just how your baby settles to sleep. For example, if you teach them how to fall asleep alone in their cot at the start of the night, and then bring them into bed with with you for a morning feed followed by a snoozy cuddle; they may wake up lots of times in the night waiting for this to happen!
Your baby is in the habit of feeding to sleep at the beginning of the night. Because of this, he or she wakes several times during the night needing shorter feeds to re settle. They no longer need night feeds for nutritional purposes, but instead, are feeding as a sleep cue.
Sleep training should ALWAYS commence when you first put your baby to sleep. Having them fall asleep in your arms or over a feed at the beginning of the night and then starting it when they first wake up is too confusing and difficult for them.
When you re settle your baby during the night, use the same approach as you did at the beginning of the night. I.e. going in at 2 minute intervals if you are using the controlled crying method or returning to sit beside them if you are using the Gradual Withdrawal Method.
Top Tip: Do you want a gentler solution that works within a week?
There is no reason why you can’t combine the two methods. Start off with the first two stages of the Gradual Withdrawal Method as “groundwork” and then move on to the Controlled Crying Method.
By child sleep expert, Health Visitor and author, Andrea Grace
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