The human brain runs on sleep and it is recommended for infants aged 4-12 months to get between 12-16 hours of sleep (including naps) during each 24-hour period to garner the most health benefits. Toddlers aged 1-2 years need 11-14 hours of sleep whereas bigger kids of 3-5 years old need 10-13 hours of sleep a day. And the lack of sleep can have a number of consequences for both parents and babies namely postpartum depressions in moms, future childhood obesity, behavioural problems, and more.
Many parents are worried to let their babies sleep on their own. But know this, if the baby is at least 4 months old, then it may be time to start sleep training. Why? Because by that age, babies can and should be able to self-soothe themselves to fall asleep or fall back to sleep.
Consider these 5 tips to help you sleep train your little one.
1. Establish a bedtime routine
Every night, perform bedtime rituals that could help ease your baby's mind and prepare their body for sleep. This may include a warm bath, body massage, reading or singing lullabies. You may want to turn off the TV or keep electronic toys away. Following a consistent bedtime routine helps build their internal body clock and lets your baby know it's time for bed! If your baby has always fallen asleep at the breast or bottle, schedule the feed earlier before bath or reading a book, so they are awake when you put them to bed.
2. Pick a good time
There is no perfect time to start sleep training. However, you may want to avoid scheduling it when there are major events happening in your baby's life (teething, a move, ear infection, etc.). Wait until things have settled down before making an attempt at sleep training.
3. Watch baby's cues
Watch for your baby's sleep cues like yawning, eye rubbing or crankiness, which usually happens around the same time each night. It's essential that you put your baby to bed when they are sleepy but not overtired as overtired babies find it harder to settle down for sleep and are more likely to sleep on and off and wake up early.
4. Place your baby down awake
Since sleep training is meant to teach your baby to fall asleep on their own, it is important that you put them in their crib when they are still awake. Your baby won't get to learn to self-soothe if you rock them to sleep in your arms before placing them in their crib.
5. Delay in responding
Do not rush to your baby's crib at the first cry. Babies make a lot of sounds at night, including crying, and they fall back to sleep on their own. Acknowledging every little cry or noise could derail your baby's efforts to self-soothe.
Here are some things that could make sleep train better for your baby: