Sleep deprivation is a well known aspect of parenting. Many parents wonder if they will ever sleep through the night again. There are three key points to remember prior to considering sleep training. The first being that the goal is for the child to self-soothe or fall asleep independently and how to reach that goal is up to that child’s parents. The second is to establish a bedtime routine as that routine will be helpful once the decision to sleep train is made (generally speaking, sleep training can begin after the first few months). The third is to begin to teach the child the difference between awake time and sleep time.
Here are tips for developing a bedtime routine and showing the baby the difference between awake time and sleep time.
- Keep the baby’s bedtime and the bedtime routine activities consistent each night (or relatively the same each night).
- Bottle-feed or nurse the baby prior to the bedtime routine. By keeping meal time and the bedtime routine separate, the baby will be taught that being fed is not needed in order to fall asleep.
- Ensure that the room is dark before beginning the bedtime routine.
- Keep talking to a minimum or speak softly during the routine.
- Remove toys from the bassinet or crib when it is time for sleeping. Such items inadvertently cue the baby that it is time to play rather than sleep.
- Keep baby’s sleep space between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the baby in the bassinet or crib when they are drowsy not asleep. Remember the goal is for them to self-soothe indpendently. By placing them in their bassinet or crib when they’re drowsy, they will have the opportunity to learn to self-soothe on their own.
- Expose the baby to light (sunlight or daylight) in between naps to help regulate their internal clock.
A consistent bedtime routine is the preceding step that should be taken into account prior to sleep training. These strategies will provide predictability for the baby, which should in turn, signal that it is bedtime.