Welcome to parenthood!
As new parents, you are now in a world where sleep is infrequent, gold, and precious.
Almost all babies cry at night because they are hungry, so you also have to wake up and feed them. They won’t likely sleep through the night until they’re three months old. Other reasons for their fussing could be discomfort caused by gas, an allergy, or other distress and sickness like an ear infection. But after ensuring that your baby is fine and still cries at night, you probably need to begin baby sleep training.
Understanding Sleep Training
Sleep training teaches your infant to sleep without your help, like cuddling, nursing, rocking, or feeding. It also teaches babies to fall back to sleep when they wake up at night. However, remember that night weaning and sleep training do not need to go together. You can still feed your babies one or two times during the night, depending on their age and stage. Speak with your pediatrician about when you can drop your child’s nighttime feeds.
Long ago, we didn’t know expert sleep consultants or sleep trainers existed. Today, more and more of them are offering their services, including Small Z’s. Depending on their certificate and styles, the processes vary. For example, you can buy a toddler sleep training course, printables, eBooks online, or consultations through video chats and personal emails. In fact, some sleep trainers do in-home consultations wherein they visit your houses to assess your child’s personality and identify possible problems, such as jaundice.
There is no specific age to work with a consultant, but the sooner you start, the better. At Little Z’s, they offer various programs, including a preschool bedtime routine course, baby sleep e-coaching, a newborn sleep course, etc. If you are struggling with your child waking up early in the morning for more than two weeks, an early morning wakes course from Little Z’s might be helpful.
Methods of Sleep Training
1. Cry It Out (CIO) or Extinction
It’s a sleep training method wherein you put your baby in their crib, allowing them to cry until they fall asleep without your help. It means you will not feed to sleep, rock to sleep, or do anything to help them to drift off. Though it varies from baby to baby, you can let them cry it out for 45 minutes to one hour. Keep in mind that it is always safe to put down your baby in their crib, rather than the swing or stroller.
2. Check and Console or Ferber Method
Even though there are many variations of this technique, its general principle would be to continue checking on your child in preset intervals but never rocking or feeding them to sleep. For example, put your baby in the crib, leave the room and wait for a particular amount of time, like 2 minutes, to go inside their room. After that, give them a rub or tap, or tell them you love them without picking them up. This method is usually recommended for older infants at seven months and up because younger infants need a parental presence so that they won’t feel abandoned.
3. Chair Method
This is a gradual method that requires your discipline as parents. First, prepare your baby to sleep and sit in a chair next to their crib. When they fall asleep, leave the room, and whenever they wake up and cry, sit back on the chair until they return to sleep. Every three or four nights, move the chair farther and farther away until you are out of the room.
4. Bedtime-routine Fading
Although many parents find this routine difficult to sustain, it is a great way to minimize crying. With this technique, you can continue whatever style you’re doing to help your baby fall asleep, like feeding or rocking, but decreasing the amount of time until you do not have to do it at all.
5. Bedtime-hour Fading
This differs from bedtime-routine fading, wherein this involves putting your infant in their crib when they usually sleep. Make this their new bedtime for a few nights, then gradually move it to an earlier time. To find out when your baby naturally sleeps, watch them for a couple of nights and maintain a journal to track. For example, if your baby usually sleeps from 7:50-8:00 pm, put them in their crib 15 minutes earlier after a couple of nights until they have shifted from their old routine to your desired sleeping time.
6. Pick-up, Put Down, and Shush-Pat
This may work for infants younger than seven months but not older ones. You can remain in their room without giving them too much help to sleep. For instance, you can stand over their crib, shush them, or pat their tummy to calm them. You may also let them cry for a while but when they begin to escalate, pick them up only to reassure them and put them back down before they fall asleep.