Sleep training is the process of getting a baby to sleep through the night. Some babies seem to acquire a sleep routine without much of a problem while some others struggle in settling down to sleep. Still some others have difficulty getting back to sleep once they have been awakened.
The first 3 months: During this time, a newborn baby feeds around every 3 hours or so. Therefore, he/she sleeps for just a few hours & wakes up for his next feed. Hence, a strict sleep routine would not be practical at this age. The mother should be opportunistic & try to catch some much deserved sleep whenever her baby sleeps.
A regular sleep pattern can be initiated at around 6 weeks of age. Establish daily routines before bedtime like giving a warm bath, changing diapers , rocking & feeding the baby, carrying the baby in its rib, playing soft music, mugging, kissing, rubbing its back all help. In addition to settling the baby each night at the same time, the baby should also be awakened at a regular fixed time. Slowly over the course of the first 3 months, your baby will start to sleep more during the night and less during the daytime.
4-6 months: At this age, the babies tend to have well defined sleeping schedule and they can sleep for long duration during night as frequency of their night feeds would decrease. They can sleep continuously up to 8 hours. They are now ready to be sleep trained.
Methods Employed in Sleep Training
- Carry it out method: The first method is based on the premise that in order to sleep on its own, a baby has to learn to self soothe. This may include putting the baby to bed while he/she is awake and let him/her cry for a while until he/she sooth oneself and fall asleep. He or she can be comforted during this period but not picked up.
- No Tears method: In this method a general & traditional approach is employed. The baby is given comfort by rocking & feeding till the baby is drowsy & then placed in this rib. If the baby cries then the parent responds by picking it up & putting it back down as many times as necessary.
- Health Sleep habits: All children exhibit different sleeping behaviors, hence sleep training will be specific to each individual child. Different strategies may need to be employed even for children within the same family. Some parents pick & choose between different aspects of different methods for sleep training. A baby will adjust to particular aspect of a particular method really well but mat not respond at all to the remaining part. You should ensure a regular daily sleep routine & should put your baby to the rib earlier rather than later, say around 6.30pm. If you prolong this then the baby might be very tired, cry a lot and be excursively fussy & irritable rather than sleeping straight away. Keep the baby’s surroundings comfortable. Dimming the light & ensuring minimal noise may help. Soft music can be played to enhance the comfort level. The room temperature should be kept at acceptable levels. Newborns sleep better when swaddled. You can give a deity rituals to the baby signaling that it is time for bed like change to pyjamas, giving bath, singing nursery rhymes etc.