Sleep training is the practice of teaching your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night with minimal parent or nanny involvement. Long-term research has studied the controversy of sleep training, revealing that this practice improves parents’ and caretakers’ mental health and an infant’s sleep quality without any negative physical or psychological effects. While there is no best approach to sleep training, as every infant is different, here are some tips and methods for new parents to try.
Wait until night feedings are no longer needed.
You or your nanny shouldn’t sleep train your baby until they are around four months old. This is the age when most children are old enough that they no longer require milk or formula throughout the night. Some babies start earlier or later, and it is best to see your pediatrician before beginning sleep training. Generally, however, you can begin sleep training at any age beyond six months.
Encourage healthy sleep patterns.
An inconsistent sleep schedule can wreak havoc on your baby’s ability to sleep soundly for long periods of time. To help form consistent sleep habits, soothe your baby before bedtime to help them sleep throughout the night. Start a nightly routine of swaddling, bathing, and rocking your baby, ensuring they are pacified before putting them in their crib. Ensure this routine is done daily and consistently by including your nanny in your intentions.
Choose a sleep training method.
There are several techniques for sleep training your baby. The pick up/put down method is the gentlest practice and involves holding your baby for a short time when they begin to fuss and then returning them to their crib.
The camping out method involves staying with your baby throughout the night. Parents and baby nurses opt to sleep in a chair or on a makeshift bed, lying next to the child and comforting them as they cry in their crib.
The cry-it-out method is the most challenging choice for most parents and caretakers. In this method, you let your baby fall asleep independently and do not pick them up to comfort them when they fuss in the middle of the night. You can however check in incrementally (5-10-15 minutes) and soothe them while they are in their crib.
If you are not sure where to begin or are struggling with sleep training, one of our trusted Newborn Care Specialists can help. An overnight NCS can support your baby through the night so you can stay rested and provide mentorship on sleep training methods that work best for your family.