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Picking The Right Sleep Training Method
One of the most important aspects of infant sleep training is finding the method that works best for you. Ultimately, YOU are the only one that knows what your tolerance for crying is. If a method doesnt feel right or sounds too intense for you, then dont try it. Start with a gentle plan that youre comfortable with.
Keep in mind, you and your partner might have different comfort levels and tolerances. Make sure to discuss the approach you want to take and incorporate sleep training into a consistent bedtime routine you set up together. Its best to start small and, if needed, move to a less gentle method so you can learn what youre comfortable with and what just isnt going to work for you and your family.
Ultimately, the best method for you and your family is going to be the one that you can alter to meet your needs and comfort levels. Melissa points out that although she chose a particular sleep training program, she made it work for her.
There are many different sleep training methods to choose from, but the most common sleep training techniques are one of or a variation of one the five we’ve explained below. You might find that one of these methods sounds like it would be a perfect match for you, OR you might find aspects from each plan that you like. Just like Melissa said, don’t feel like you need to stick to a certain method 100%. Make the plan work for you!
Ensure Your Baby Is Sleeping Safely
Following recommendations from the AAP is the most important step you can take. Sure, you would like your baby to sleep as much as possible, but making sure they are safe is the top priority. Among the AAPs recommendations are:
- Babies should sleep on their back until they are 1.
- Babies should sleep on a firm surface, such as a mattress with a fitted sheet, that is free of bedding or other soft objects.
- Parents and caregivers should avoid exposing babies to any smoke.
- Caregivers should always avoid alcohol, sedating medications and illicit drug use while caring for an infant.
- Parents can consider using a pacifier at nighttime or nap time, which has shown a protective effect against . Pacifiers should not attach to clothing or hang around your babys neck.
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My Experience With Infant Sleeping
My daughter started off being a great sleeper. She slept through the night by about 8 weeks, put herself right to sleep when we put her down , and gave us long stretches of naps. After a few great weeks, the downfall of the 4 month regression started.
She always used a pacifier to soothe, as well as fall asleep, and it worked great to help us when she was crying or as an immediate sleep aid. We could just pop it in her mouth when we needed her to calm down or fall asleep and it worked like a charm. That was until she got dependent on it.
Around 3.5 months, she started waking more through out the night when she noticed the paci wasnt there. From then on, it got increasingly more frequent until about 5 months when she was waking every hour to suck.
I thought I would just wait until she was old enough to find it and put it back in by herself, but that day didnt seem to come quick enough. This was taking a toll on me and I knew I needed a solution and it was to get her off the pacifier so I wasnt waking up every hour to put it back in.
I researched a lot about sleep training and it seemed like the right thing to do. Once I started, she was sleeping THROUGH THE NIGHT within 1 day!
It may not be for everyone, but anyone I know who has tried it has had success and say they wish they did it sooner.
When baby #2 came along, he had very similar sleep patterns in the first few months. He slept well up until 3.5 months and then regressed terribly.
What Are Sleep Regressions
I think the term sleep regression is a misnomer. Instead, I like to explain to parents that there will probably be a reason your child doesnt sleep well at night about every 4-8 weeks. If you think about your own sleep, perhaps there are times about every month, or every other month, that for some reason you just dont sleep well at night. Babies and toddlers experience this too!
And the fact of the matter is that all sorts of things disrupt a childs sleep. It can be separation anxiety, illness, or just a random wake up. Babies are mini-versions of a set of traits and tendencies that will eventually turn into the adult version of who they are.
Some humans are more sensitive, and if theyre woken up for any reason overnight, they may seriously struggle to fall back to sleep. They may sincerely struggle sleeping in new places, or out and about where there is a lot of noise.
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What Is The 4
During a 4-month sleep regression, your babys sleeping habits change. They start to wake up at night and cry more. It can happen once or multiple times, notes Dr. Schwartz.
The reason? Research shows that around 10 to 12 weeks of age, babies start developing their circadian rhythm. The bodys internal clock regulates circadian rhythms, which follow a 24-hour cycle. As adults, were always cycling through stages of deep to light sleep. Newborns spend more time in deep sleep. But around 4 months, their sleep ability begins to mature and become more like an adults. They start to go into these lighter phases of sleep where theyre more prone to waking up, explains Dr. Schwartz.
How long this period of unpredictable sleep lasts depends on the child, he adds. But there are things you can do to nudge your baby back to Dreamville.
Use A Swaddle Or Sleep Sack
Although some sleep associations are not helpful, swaddling and sleep sacks are positive. They create a safe, comfortable sleep environment for your baby.
Even if they become reliant on the sleep sack, its not something that will be harmful for their sleep routine.
Babies like the feeling of being wrapped up tight and since they cant sleep with a blanket wrapped around them, swaddles and sleep sacks work best.
For newborns up until they start rolling, these Ollie swaddles are my favorite! The velcro and tightness is what made my daughter sleep so well for the first few months of her life.
However, once she started rolling over, they arent safe anymore.
Once I had to stop swaddling her with her arms down, I used the Nested Bean Zen Sleep Sack. It still gives them the tightness around their body of being hugged, but their arms are free.
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What Is Toddler Sleep Training
Sleep is crucial for your toddlerâs healthy development. Your child will typically need around 11 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, which may include one or two naps of an hour or two.
But getting a toddler to peacefully doze off at night is easier said than done, especially if your child is struggling to fall asleep independently, or can’t wind down after an exciting day of playtime.
This is where sleep training can help. During the toddler years, one of the chief goals of sleep training is to get your child to be able to self-soothe and fall asleep on his own without crying out for you and without getting out of bed to come and find you.
Sleep training may also help your child learn to be able to fall back asleep by herself when she wakes in the night.
In other words, sleep training is a broad term for a process that aims to slowly reduce your involvement in your toddler settling down while in bed and falling asleep. Sleep training is not one-size-fits-all, and one style of sleep training may work better for you and your little one than another.
Try not to let the idea of Sleep Training overwhelm you, the Lumi by Pampers Smart Sleep Coaching App has a full program of video tutorials that feature gentle and proven methods and in-app tracking tools to guide and support you step-by-step to sleep success! Youâve got this!
How Long Does Sleep Training Take
After three to four nights of methods like Ferber or cry it out, many babies are sleep trained .
Other training methods in particular bedtime fading, the chair method and pick up, put down will likely take longer, and some methods wont work at all for some babies.
Be consistent with the sleep training method youve chosen for two full weeks to give it a chance to work.
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How To Do The Cry It Out Method And For How Long
Of course every family is different. If you do end up deciding to use a more traditional cry-it-out method of sleep training, here’s how to do it:
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.
Advice For Sleep Training Your Toddler
Before you try the toddler sleep training approaches in this article, I recommend using toddler-ese, patience-stretching, twinkle interruptus, and the fun bedtime game to reduce bedtime struggles and help your little one get the sleep he needs. If these techniques aren’t working, it might be time to use a more direct method of sleep training through these tips and tricks. Keep in mind, these sleep training tips are intended for toddlers who are ages 8 months to 3 years old.
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Missing The Medical Causes Of Sleep Difficulties
Children with some medical problems wont necessarily respond to behavioral changes.
It is very common for patients presenting to Sleep Clinic to have more than one sleep problem. If I find multiple sleep issues in a patient, I start with treating the medical problems first before suggesting a behavioral plan. This is why you should discuss your childs sleep issues with your pediatrician before starting.
Do I Have To Sleep Train My Baby
Absolutely not! Many parents just muddle through for various reasons. It might be that it seems less stressful to just ride it out than to take the bull by the horns. It might be that your baby has health issues, such as reflux or having been born prematurely, that make you feel they do need that comfort when they wake in the night. Or perhaps you just don’t find your baby’s slightly chaotic sleep pattern too difficult to deal with and so it’s just not worth the hassle. If it ain’t broke, after all
As anyone who starts a discussion on sleep training soon discovers, there are those who think it is cruel, and others who view it as a necessary evil and some who simply love it . For those who need a little extra reassurance, studies have shown that sleep training methods are safe for babies.
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How Do Bedtime Routines Fit Into Sleep Training
Bedtime routines represent a key element in each of the sleep training methods above. They create a sense of consistency for babies, which reassures them and helps them feel safe to sleep. Babies also have no sense of day and night in their infancy, and bedtime routines can help them distinguish between the two.
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Take Away The Pacifier Or Negative Sleep Association
Both of my kids loved their pacifiers. It helped them calm down and fall asleep.
For my first child, I tried to let her use the pacifier and took it away after she fell asleep. This didnt work because her suck would be so strong on it, that pulling it out of her mouth would wake her right up crying.
Even if it didnt wake her up from pulling it out, she would still wake up at some point wanting to suck on it because she knew it was there when she fell asleep.
So step 1 of sleep training was NO MORE PACIFIER.
When you know the pacifier or any other negative sleep association is a quick fix to calming down your child, it can be difficult not to give in and give it right back to them when they cry.
But be strong, mama!
Honestly, its the worst thing you can do for your babys sleep habits. Its something that they need you for and not giving them the ability to soothe themselves back to sleep.
As soon as I decided to take the pacifiers away, I hid them in a box, in another box, in a closet, at the far end of the house, just to make it more difficult for me to get to them if I wanted to cave.
To be honest, my daughter was a much happier child once the pacifier was gone.
Even though it was a great way to calm her down if she was upset, she became completely reliant on it. If it fell out of her mouth she would cry.
Now that she doesnt use it anymore, she never really cries because shes just used to not having it.
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When Sleep Regressions Happen
Sleep regression can happen at any time, since its linked to unpredictable factors like disruptions in routines or an illness.
But there are a few periods when sleep regression is relatively foreseeable, due to growth spurts, teething or reaching new milestones:
- 3 to 4 months: The dreaded 4-month sleep regression is often the hardest for parents simply because it’s the first. There are several culprits behind baby sleep problems at this age: the pain caused by teething, hunger linked to growth spurts and the excitement of rolling over for the first time.
- 6 months: Babies often go through another growth spurt at about 6 months old. By this age, however, little ones are capable of sleeping through the night and may wake simply for snuggles which means it might be time for testing a sleep training method.
- 8 to 10 months: Many babies begin crawling when theyre around 9 months old and begin standing at around 10 months. Separation anxiety is also common around this age, which may cause your baby to wake up looking for reassurance from you during the night.
- 12 months: Sometime between 9 to 12 months, babies start standing up. At around the one-year mark, others take their first steps . Reaching big milestones can cause temporary sleep problems.
Nap Time Sleep Training Tips
You know what happens to toddlers when they dont get enough sleep crankiness, tantrums, the sillies, and everything in between.
Nap times can preserve both of your sanities, but if your toddler dislikes going to sleep at night, they may also be resistant to sleeping during the day.
The above methods and routines can work anytime of the day, but here are a few bonus tips to outsmart your kid:
- Plan an energetic activity a little while before nap time. Your kid will be so tired that theyll pass out after eating lunch. Keep this routine and after-lunch naps will become second nature.
- Schedule nap times for the same time every day. Again, its all about consistency and a predictable schedule. If your toddler naps during the week at a daycare or preschool, try to keep them on the same nap schedule during the weekend at home.
- Schedule naps earlier in the afternoon. If your toddler naps late in the afternoon, they might not be sleepy at bedtime.
Once your child starts sleeping 11 to 12 hours at night , they may no longer need the nap. Giving up your mid-day break can be hard, but the reward may be an easier evening bedtime. You can also shift nap time to quiet time, which will allow your toddler, and you, to recharge.
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