How to make sure you and your baby get some much-needed rest
If you’re a new mom, you will find other moms telling you how difficult the first days of motherhood will be. These first months of parenthood are characterised by sleep deprivation which results from your little one’s unestablished sleeping and waking cycle and the need to be fed after every few hours. However, this should not worry you; it is normal. When your baby is a few months old – after ditching the late-night feedings and now has a sleeping and waking cycle that is more predictable – sleep training him or her would be a good idea. Sleep training your infant will enable your whole family to finally get the much-needed good night’s sleep.
What is sleep training?
Sleep training also known as sleep learning, sleep coaching or sleep teaching is a process whereby you step in to assist your little one to learn, not only how to fall asleep, but also to stay asleep. Sleep training is one of the touchy topics of parenthood, many experts and parents give their opinions on the various techniques of sleep training and this has brought about a controversy. This is because parents and experts will either speak for or against a sleep technique depending on whether it has worked for them and their infants. However, no one is entirely correct when it comes to which is the right way to sleep train your child and have them sleep throughout the night as there are multiple ways to choose from.
When to begin sleep coaching your infant
Any super tired and sleep deprived parent will look forward to sleep training their colicky baby, but when exactly is the right time to begin sleep coaching your infant? Some paediatricians will advise you to sleep train your infant once he or she gets to a specific weight. Other moms may also advise you to wait until the baby is 4 months old and can self-soothe. However, if you decide to wait longer, it is okay; there’s no right time to start.
However, before you start sleep training your infant, it would be wise to have a talk with your paediatricians – more so if your child is putting on weight slowly or was premature and may not be ready to ditch the late-night feedings. Such infants may need a sleep training schedule that is well adapted to a few late-night wake-ups.
Sleep coaching methods
Before you begin to sleep train your child, it is imperative to note that all these sleep training methods have advantages and disadvantages, and what works for your friend’s little one may not work for yours. Scroll on to read about some of most commonly used sleep training techniques.
This sleep learning technique involves subtly changing your little one’s sleeping habits. For instance, by use of the “fading trick”, you slowly ease out of the infant’s go-to-sleep routine. If the little one is used to you holding him or her until they fall asleep, you now begin to hold them to sleep less and less until you can put them down to sleep without holding and rocking them.
Just as the name suggests, this technique involves sleep training your little one by allowing them to self-soothe without stepping in, while he or she tries to fall asleep. The idea of this technique is that the little one will eventually learn to self-soothe, stop crying and sleep throughout the night.
For this technique, you are required to set up a sleep time routine, for example, sing a lullaby, read a book or give the baby a bath, then put him or her down to sleep, leave the room and do not go back inside till morning. Most moms who have tried this method have, however, stated that it was very hard in the beginning but eventually the baby goes back to sleep after crying.
This technique is also known as the Ferber Method or modified sleep coaching. This technique requires you to put the baby down to sleep even though he or she is crying, then come to check up on the little one in intervals of five, 10, 15 minutes and so on. When checking up on him, be sure not to pick him or her up. However, you can verbally try to soothe or gently pat him or her. As the intervals get longer, the baby will eventually sleep through the night.
This technique begins with the parent seated right next to the baby’s crib or baby swing. Each time the baby is put down to sleep, you move further away from the baby while verbally soothing and patting the baby. Do this until you are outside the baby’s room. This method is usually helpful if your baby is suffering from separation anxiety.
In this technique, you place your baby in bed while he or she is still awake and then keep checking up on him at intervals just like in the time interval technique. However, in this method, you can pick the baby to comfort him or her then put them in bed again. Eventually, he or she will be drowsy and fall asleep on their own.
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