Sleep Training: The Complete Guide For New Parents
As a new parent, one of your main priorities is sleep — for your sake and your baby’s. But because the saying “sleep like a baby” isn’t always accurate, babies often need some help in this area. If this is the case for your little one, you may want to consider sleep training.
In this article, the experts at Newton Baby provide a complete guide for sleep training your baby so that you and your little one can get the restful sleep you need.
What Is Sleep Training?
Sleep training is the process of teaching your baby how to fall asleep on their own...and stay asleep. If you’ve recently given birth, you know how important that is!
With sleep training, you have several options for helping your little one learn this skill — from letting your baby cry it out to not allowing them to cry at all, and everything in-between. Try different methods to see what works best for your baby.
Don’t become discouraged if your little one doesn’t catch on right away, because what works for one baby may not work for another. Just remember to keep your long-term sleep training goal in mind — everyone sleeping through the night.
When Is Your Baby Ready For Sleep Training?
The best time to start sleep training your baby is when they drop their middle-of-the-night feedings or when they’re able to self-soothe, which is typically between four and six months.
At this point, your baby has established somewhat of a routine sleep-wake cycle, but you may experience difficulty with sleep training if your baby still wakes up for feedings in the middle of the night.
Talk with your child’s pediatrician before sleep training your baby, especially if they were born premature or are slow to gain weight.
How Long Does It Take To Sleep Train Your Baby?
Some parents have found success after one night of sleep training, while others only succeed after a month or more. Every baby is different. But experts say that, on average, it takes about three to seven days to achieve successful sleep training results.
The key to succeeding in a week is consistency. Your baby won’t learn to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own after only seven days if you do not keep trying night after night.
That said, if you’ve been sleep training consistently for more than a week and your baby is still having trouble, reach out to your pediatrician to see if there’s an underlying issue that needs to be resolved.
Sleep Training Methods
There’s no right or wrong way to sleep train your baby. With the amount of information available today, you have a variety of options.
However, as with any parenting choice, there are pros and cons to each sleep training method. You’ll need to weigh these pros and cons to determine which method to try with your baby.
With the cry-it-out technique, you’ll let your baby cry and self-soothe until they fall asleep — no matter how long it takes. Do not interfere while your baby is crying.
The idea is that, eventually, your baby will stop crying, learn to fall asleep on their own, and sleep through the night.
This method is the opposite of the cry-it-out method and is also known as the no-cry method. With this technique, you will gradually shift your baby’s sleep habits.
For example, if your baby needs to be rocked before bedtime, rock less and less until you’re able to put them down without any rocking or crying.
Another type of no-tears method involves substitution. If your baby falls asleep while nursing, for instance, try moving up the time of their last breastfeeding session and then reading a book right before lying them down for the night.
For this sleep training method, grab a blanket and pillow, mattress, or chair and lie or sit next to your baby’s crib. Gently pat or rub your little one until they fall asleep.
After a couple of nights of this technique, simply sit or lie next to your baby without any prompts until they fall asleep on their own.
Sleep Lady Shuffle (Chair Method)
The sleep lady shuffle method is especially useful for children with separation anxiety.
As the name suggests, sit in a chair next to your baby’s crib. Every few minutes, move your chair back farther so your little one can still see you, but continue the process until you are no longer in sight.
You can verbally soothe your baby, pat their back, or even pick them up with this method. This way, your baby still knows you’re around and can gradually become accustomed to the fact that you won’t be present all night.
Repeat each night until you’re able to lay your baby down and walk out of the room without tears.
The goal of this method is to make your baby drowsy enough that they’ll fall asleep on their own. The procedure includes putting your baby down in their crib while they’re still awake (but sleepy) and coming back to check on them at gradual intervals.
When you come back to check on your baby, you can pick them up for a few minutes and comfort them. You may have to go in and out of your baby’s room several times, but eventually, your little one will fall asleep.
Similar to the pick-up-put-down method, this one involves putting your baby down even if they’re crying and coming back to check on them at timed intervals.
However, when checking on your baby as part of the Ferber Method, do not pick them up. You can soothe them, though. Eventually, the timed intervals will increase and you won’t need to check on your baby as often.
Other names for the Ferber Method include:
- Timed-interval sleep training
- Modified sleep training
- Graduated extinction sleep training
Sleep Training Tips
Keep Your Baby Full During The Day
Sometimes your baby wakes up throughout the night because they’re hungry. Ensure that your little one is getting an adequate amount of food throughout the day so they don’t get hungry in the middle of the night.
Maintain A Consistent Routine
Stay consistent with whatever routine you’ve established for your baby, and keep it the same time every night. Your baby will catch on after a while and recognize when it’s time for bed.
Keep A Sleep Log
Consider keeping a log of the times your baby naps and the time(s) they wake up at night, as well as how long they’re awake. This can give you a better idea of how many hours per day your baby sleeps and when you need to address their sleeping habits.
For example, if your little one wakes up at night but only takes a few minutes to fall back asleep on their own, then you won’t need to do anything other than wait.
Create A Comfortable Environment
Your baby’s environment plays a huge role in their quality of sleep.
Be sure to keep your little one’s room temperature cool but not cold. If it’s too hot, your baby may get uncomfortable and sweaty, which could wake them up in the middle of the night.
Additionally, your baby may not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep because of sunlight creeping through the window. If this is the case, it’s an easy fix. Simply move the position of your baby’s crib or hang blackout curtains.
Finally, the type of mattress your little one sleeps on — including the firmness and breathability of the mattress — affects their quality of sleep. Choosing the right mattress can help make your baby’s environment more comfortable and, as a result, lead to better sleep.
Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress reduces the risk of suffocation and helps regulate your baby’s body temperature throughout the night so they can sleep comfortably and soundly.
Maybe you’ve made huge strides in sleep training and your baby is finally sleeping through the night, but then they start teething. That’s OK!
Your little one will eventually get back to those good sleep habits, so stay flexible with them, especially in the following situations:
- Daily schedule changes
- Daylight savings time
If your baby does get off-track for a few days or a week, don’t get discouraged. You may have to retrain your baby, but there’s good news! You already know your little one can do it — and so do they.
After getting back into a routine once a sickness passes or you’re home from vacation, your baby will begin to remember what they learned not so long ago.
Avoid The Comparison Trap
Every baby’s sleep needs are different, so what worked for one child may not work for another — even among siblings.
Don’t compare yourself with what friends or family members are doing, even if they’re having success and you’re not. It takes time, so be patient and avoid falling into the comparison trap.
Eat, Sleep, and Choose The Right Mattress
When sleep training, don’t expect perfection right away. Celebrate the little victories. Remember that every child is different, even within each family. Try different methods to determine what works best for you and your baby.
Keep in mind the connection between your baby’s quality of sleep and their environment. Choose a mattress — like Newton Baby’s — that is designed with your baby’s health, safety, and comfort in mind to ensure optimal results with sleep training!
At Newton Baby, we know that sleep is important for both you and your baby. Our mattresses offer the perfect combination of cushy firmness and good air circulation to help your little one fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Even better? Newton Baby's Crib Mattress Pad provides waterproof protection without interfering with breathability, allowing your baby to sleep safer, cleaner, and more comfortably.
So what are you waiting for? Put your baby down and go catch some Zs!