Sleep Training 101

by Sr Ann Richardson
Sleep Training 101 - BabyYumYum
Reading Time: 3 minutes
BYY parenting and sleep expert, Sr Ann Richardson, gives us the lowdown on getting your baby to self-soothe so you can both sleep peacefully.

Top tips before you start sleep training:

  • Decide on an appropriate time to begin.
  • Rule out medical causes of night waking.
  • Ensure your baby’s diet is adequate for his age, with sufficient milk and age-appropriate solid food.
  • Your baby’s sleep zone must support sleep and be a consistent and calming environment.
  • Encourage a comfort object (dummy, soft toy)
  • A consistent bedtime routine is an excellent way of preparing your baby for sleep.
  • Limit your babies awake time in between naps – an overtired baby will struggle to fall asleep without assistance.
  • Get to know your babies signals of tiredness – these can include irritability, sneezing, hiccupping, and loss of eye contact.
  • If you have other children or demands, try to elicit help and support from other caregivers for the first few days, so that you can invest sufficient time and energy into the programme. Reassure your other children that you will make it up to them later – don’t forget to do this!
  • Earmark a reward for yourself at the end of it all.

If your child has developed a habit whereby, he is dependent on you for sleep, he will protest within minutes (probably even seconds!) of you doing things differently! 

This is where the hard bit comes in. Accept that your baby is going to cry, however, you are going to control how long he is going to cry for, and you are going to be there for him every step of the way.

There are two methods of handling this – neither one is better than the other – do what feels right for you at the time.  One thing though, remember to be consistent and stick to one method for at least a week.

Staying with your baby

If you are anxious about separating from your baby, and if you feel uneasy about leaving your baby on his own whilst he is learning to put himself to sleep, you may want to stay with him for the process.

Top tips before you start sleep trainingAll sleep coaching is hard work and may be very emotionally draining, so if you feel angry and frustrated when your baby cries and feel that you might physically harm your baby out of tiredness and frustration, then this is not the sleep coaching method for you.

Leaving your baby for short periods of time

This method allows you to pick up your baby when he is crying and comfort him until he is calm, but it differs from the first method in that you leave the room for short periods of time (slowly increasing the duration) from the beginning, before returning to pick him up to calm him once more.

If you feel that you could possibly harm your baby physically (out of sheer exhaustion and frustration) this may the method of choice for you as you are able to step away from the situation for very short periods of time to catch your breath and re-focus on the goal in sight.

Changing unhealthy sleep habits is exhausting and the key to its success is to focus on the goal at the end of it all.  Accept that you will be tired and frustrated at times but try not to get bogged down in the immediate drama of the moment, and rather look at your long-term goal.

The process of falling asleep unassisted is a skill that needs practice, so bear in mind that success comes only after a period of practice, so don’t give up!

Related Articles

Leave a Comment