Hi, mom! Are you tired? Dreaming of crisp white sheets in a hotel room all to yourself? I know the feeling! If you are thinking of sleep training your baby to get some rest but you are worried about letting them cry, this post is for you!
My eldest daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 11 months and I was exhausted.
With my youngest, I was so happy when I found a sleep training method that not only worked, it didn’t feel like “cry it out” so both baby and I were much happier!
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Scroll down to read the comments on this post and you will see that the tips here have helped a lot of tired moms!
The first thing to know is that babies & toddlers love predictability and consistency. Creating a routine for them is what they want, even if they resist at first.
And remember, sleep is essential for their brain development and well-being. They need to sleep, although they may try to tell you otherwise! Sleep training also isn’t an all or nothing thing.
If you don’t feel comfortable letting your baby “cry-it-out”, gentle sleep training can still be a great option.
Around 5 months you can start gentle sleep training with your baby. There is a sweet spot from 5-10 months that is optimal for sleep training. It is sometimes more difficult with older babies and toddlers.
A regular bedtime routine will go a long way to starting the night off right, here is our routine:
Sample Bedtime Routine
Step 1: Bath
Step 2: Put Pj’s on
Step 3: Bottle/nurse (or before bath if she is falling asleep)
Step 4: Song – the same song every night.
Step 5: Into crib AWAKE
The most important thing to remember is to be consistent. You need to make each sleep situation exactly the same so the baby can develop a consistent strategy on her own.
STEPS FOR NIGHTS 1,2,3 (It sometimes helps for dad to do the first 2 nights).
Sit beside the crib in a chair
Say repetitive phrases (i.e. it’s night night time, I love you)
You can occasionally pat, touch, sing or hum, but be cautious that this does not become a new external strategy she uses to fall asleep. Remember, that it is not your job to put her to sleep; you are only there to offer some comfort. It has to be her job now to put herself to sleep.
If baby is inconsolable you can pick her up to calm her down and then put her right back into the crib again. Don’t do it if it makes her more upset.
STEPS FOR NIGHTS 4,5,6:
Move your chair mid-room (less interaction)
STEPS FOR NIGHTS 7,8,9:
Move your chair to the door (stay in your chair and use even less interaction- minimal by this stage)
STEPS FOR NIGHT 10:
On night 10, don’t sit anywhere anymore. Just leave and keep the door slightly open. If she cries longer than 10 minutes, you can go back into the room, say your key phrase, some careful touch, and then leave again. Repeat every 10 minutes if necessary.
*The goal is to not give up as it will confuse the baby and it is not fair while she is perfecting her new found sleep strategy.
- Wait 10 minutes before you respond (look at the clock and time it-1 minute can seem like 20 as I am sure you know). This will delay the gratification and prevent her from becoming more stimulated upon seeing you.
(if she cries for 5 mins, stops for 3, and starts again- start the timer from when she starts again)
- If she is still protesting after 10 minutes, then go in and repeat the same strategies you were using at bedtime.
- You will have to repeat this same process each time she wakes in the night
- No night feedings. Baby will gradually start to eat more during the day to make up for the night feedings.
- Don’t consider morning anything before 6:00 am. Then make a big deal about it being morning and take her out of the bedroom for her first feed.
RELATED: The Ultimate List Of Baby Freebies
Important Tips for Gentle Sleep Training
- I also suggest that there be no toys in the crib, apart from a soft stuffed animal (a “lovey”). It is better to make the connection that the crib is for sleep and nothing else.
- Try to be as consistent as possible.
- Try not to worry about teething as a possible cause for a bad night. It may well be teething, but there is not a lot you can do about it and, if you start changing your rules every time you think she might be teething, you will create a very confusing message and you may have to start all over again. If you need help with teething, I highly recommend the book “Your Teething Baby”
- When baby is sick, I forgo the 10-minute wait period and respond to her calls, give her some comfort, more Tylenol (if you feel she needs some), and then back into bed to drift off to sleep on her own again.
- If your child depends on a “prop” to fall asleep – such as breastfeeding, bottles, pacifiers, patting, rocking, or even playing with mommy’s fingers – then they will find it difficult to get back to sleep without their “prop.”
Recommended Reading on Sleep Training
Reader recommendation – See the comments for more information, readers are raving about this ebook by Susan Urban: GUIDE IN A NUTSHELL How to Teach a Baby to FALL ASLEEP ALONE
More Baby Advice here