The phrase "sleep training" is often misunderstood as letting your baby cry it out or self-soothe. In reality, the goal of sleep training is to teach your baby to fall asleep independently, without being held, nursed or soothed with a pacifier. If you're new to this concept, here are four helpful tips to get start on sleep training your baby.
Establish a Sleep Routine as Early as Possible
Cara Dumaplin, "the baby sleep expert," recommends starting a regular sleep schedule at four weeks old. This goes for both nap time and bed time. Nap time routines can be five to 10 minutes of singing a lullaby or reading a book, whereas bedtime routines can be up to an hour and include a full feeding, a bath, singing and reading.
For the first six weeks, feedings can last up to 40 minutes long. But babies can get tired after 10 minutes of feeding and may fall asleep. If you want to practice sleep training, it's crucial to encourage full feedings—staying awake during the entire feeding. This will help the baby drop their night feedings naturally and can help them sleep through the night.
Give your baby the comfort and sense of security they need to fall asleep by swaddling them in a Miracle Blanket or sleep suit. Much like adults enjoy weighted blankets, these specialty items are designed to help your baby feel safe and sound so they can drift off to sleep.
Put Your Baby in His Crib While He's Still Awake
If you put your baby in his crib while he's drowsy but still awake, this will teach him how to fall asleep independently instead of relying on being rocked to sleep in your arms. Check on your baby every 5 to 10 minutes until he is asleep. Investing in a good noise machine can be helpful with this method.