One of the most stressful days of parenting is when sleep just seems to elude the baby and he or she requires require you to soothe and comfort them in the wee hours of the night. At first, most parents can easily accommodate their precious baby's needs and comfort, but when this goes on for months and years, sleep deprivation, fatigue, and frustration will take a toll on a parent's overall wellbeing. Parents are fortunate enough that there are ways and recommended techniques which are proven effective in training babies to sleep. Let us take a closer look.
For newborn babies from 1 to 6 months, sleep training might not be recommended because this age is crucial in feeding, nursing, and soothing. When the baby hits 6 months, however, this is the recommended time for you to try some techniques. Often, babies wake up in the middle of the night not for feeding or needing a new and clean nappy but just for a hug or a cuddle. It is good to address these emotional needs of the child but when it goes on for nights on end, you got yourself a real problem that can go on until toddler stage. To avoid this problem, trying out some techniques can benefit you and the baby immensely.
"Settle and Leave" Technique
This technique is used to help babies self soothe and learn how to sleep on their own. When they cry, you pick them up and calmly say that it is sleeping time or night time now so they need to sleep, then you settle them back down and leave immediately once they stop crying. Expect some more crying and screaming once you put them down to sleep. Come back immediately and do the same until crying decreases. This might not be an overnight sleep solution, but many parents have attested to its effectiveness in about 3 months of consistency.
Similar to the settle and leave technique, controlled crying is leaving the child for around 2 minutes, then picking them up, soothing them, and leaving them to self soothe. You increase the time twice, this time for 4 minutes, before you come back and pick them up and soothe them once again. You increase the waiting time as you go along, and the baby will soon sleep on their own for about an hour or more. Many experts recommend this method, and many parents who have tried this technique have seen quick results in about 3 nights of continuous sleep training. For more info on controlled crying, you can check out the baby book at thegiftofsleep.com.au.
Despite the positive feedback of many parents today regarding these sleep methods, there are still many who hesitate in trying what they pertain to as "cold" and "cruel" treatment. Parents will always have the emotional reaction to their baby's crying so it is natural for them to pick up their baby especially when baby is screaming and crying for attention. However, studies show that these two methods of sleep training do not have any psychological ramifications when practiced properly at 6 months onwards. Another study also showed that babies who were trained in these methods grow up to have less behavioral problems. They generally grow up as well-adjusted individuals.
It might be a struggle for both baby and parents to achieve that ideal sleep solution through sleep training. However, the benefits and the results will far outweigh the efforts and the emotional nights of sleep training when the whole family finally gets that good night sleep. You will be catering to the child's emotional and physical development. You will also be giving yourself that much needed sleep so you can properly care for your baby in the proper waking hours.