A Guide On How To Help Your Baby To Sleep On Their Own
Do you need to rock your baby for them to go to sleep? Or do they frequently wake up in the middle of the night crying out for a snuggle or your presence?
If your baby is at least 4 months old, it could be time to begin sleep training. By 4 to 6 months, newborns should be able to soothe themselves to sleep or fall asleep again on their own.
Always talk to your child’s health care provider before starting sleep training. Always check with your health care provider before sleep training if your child has special health care needs.
Sleep Training: Redefined
Contrary to popular belief, sleeping training is not about getting your baby to sleep through the entire night. The truth is, due to their lightning-fast sleep cycles, babies are susceptible to waking up throughout the night because they return to extremely light, easily disturbed sleep every 45 to 60 minutes or so.
Thus, sleep training is more about teaching your baby to fall back asleep on their own through self-soothing techniques, rather than getting them to sleep through the entire night.
Experts advise beginning sleep training with babies between the ages of 4 and 6 months. Babies can usually comfort and self-soothe themselves and will likely no longer require night feedings by this age.
Sleep training methods
While there is no single best approach to training a baby to sleep independently, research and experience has shown that one or a combination of the following techniques work. Keep on reading to learn more!
1. Arms out of the swaddle method
Starting the transition from an organic muslin swaddle to the crib typically begins with the arm-out method.
This method helps if your baby still has a small amount of startle reaction. One of their arms should be tightly tucked into the swaddle to lessen the disruption caused by jerky movements. It may be helpful to initially attempt this strategy during your baby’s naptime. This provides you with the chance to watch how soon they can fall asleep without disturbing your own sleep cycle.
You can remove both arms from the swaddle if your baby has been sleeping well for a few days with one arm out. And once they have had a few days of sleeping with their arms out of the swaddle, you can try removing the swaddle entirely (check out our article for more information on when to stop swaddling your baby).
2. Alternating between sleeping freely and swaddling
You could also alternate between swaddling and sleeping freely for your baby. For instance, you may start by letting your baby sleep unswaddled during their naps in the day and then swaddling them to sleep through the night.
While it may seem paradoxical, giving your baby a little bit of sleeping independence at a time before completely removing the swaddle can work wonders.
3. Cry it out method
The “cry it out” method involves putting your baby to bed and letting them cry until they nod off, without any comfort from you.
What this means is that you will not enter your baby's room again until they wake up the next morning or until they need to feed again. Essentially, after ensuring that they are going to bed with a full stomach and in a secure sleeping environment, you will leave them be.
Consistency is key with this sleep training method, and it is often a lot tougher on the parent than it is on the child – many parents find it challenging to leave their crying baby unattended.
4. Ferber method
Not a fan of leaving your baby unattended and crying uncontrollably? For parents who aren’t a fan of the “cry it out” method, try the Ferber technique, where you let your baby cry for a certain amount of time before you check in on them.
You should progressively lengthen these timed intervals over a few nights while decreasing your presence in the nursery. These comfort check-ins will eventually be unnecessary since your baby will have mastered self-soothing!
5. Pick-up, put-down
With this method of sleep training, you go through your baby’s regular bedtime routine before putting them to bed while they are still awake but sleepy. Wait a few minutes to observe whether they stop crying. If they do not, enter the room and calmly pick them up. Put them down in the crib once they are quiet again.
Continue doing this until your baby no longer cries out for you when it is time for bed. However, it is vital to bear in mind that this sleep training method might be time-consuming and calls for a ton of patience.
It will take time for you and your baby to adjust to any big changes to their sleep schedule. Generally, most babies will begin to adjust to sleeping independently and without a swaddle after approximately 1 to 2 weeks. We would recommend sticking with the sleep training method you have chosen for about a week to give it a chance to work. If it doesn’t seem to work for your baby, you can try out another method! Ultimately, this process requires a ton of patience and discipline from parents.
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