Following the “latest and greatest” sleep training method to the letter can leave you feeling frustrated and confused. Sometimes you gotta put the books aside and hit up a fellow mom for help. We asked parents from our inner circle who’ve recently emerged from the trenches of the early infancy stage what they wished they’d known from day one.
Consider their advice, below, required bedtime reading.
1. “Sleep begets sleep. The better the nap, the better the night.”
2. “There is no single sleep remedy for every child. Even if someone swears that a method worked for their eight children, it may not work for yours.”
3. “Keep in mind that baby sleep is completely different from adult sleep. The idea that if you put them to bed an hour later they should sleep an hour later in the morning is actually the opposite of how their bodies work.”
4. “Put your child to bed awake, so they learn how to fall asleep on their own and don't develop sleep associations. I learned the hard way, and won't make that mistake again.”
5. “You can nurse a sleeping baby, so it’s not necessary to turn on the lights, wake him up, and change him during the night. It was awesome for me and him. Win-win!”
6. “If you’re going to let them cry it out, start early. We wanted to do it at 11 months, but everyone told us that 3 months is the lucky number. Babies just get smarter (and harder to resist) as they get older.”
7. “Sometimes you do have to wake a sleeping baby. For us, naps longer than three hours led to poor night’s sleep.”
8. “You may have to just wait out the tough times. Because of developmental milestones, we had very little sleep between 6 and 10 months. Luckily, our baby relearned how to sleep through the night on her own afterwards.”
9. “Give baby his own space to to sleep in. You’ll start to wake each other up if you’re in the same room.”
10. “Don’t let baby fall asleep while you’re nursing or cuddling him. It’s hard to do! They’re so tiny and cute that you just want to hold them all the time, but it really helps if they can fall asleep on their own.”
11. “Make sure the nursery is really, really dark.”
12. “Establish a wind-down routine and say lights out at the same time every night. Being able to rely on a relaxing, quiet bedtime is sooo nice!”