“Is he sleeping through the night yet?” is the dreaded question that every new parent gets asked about a thousand times... especially if they’re looking a little worse for wear. Getting your baby on a healthy sleep schedule so everyone can be happy and well-rested is the number one goal of many parents when their baby arrives. But sometimes, it doesn't go according to plan.
If you’re having trouble sleep training your little one, you may be making one of the common mistakes that can totally change the course of your nighttime. Read on to find out what may be the problem, and how you can solve it!
10 Fear of Judgement
Sleep training is one of the more controversial parenting topics within mom communities. While there are many different methods and different opinions on each, one thing is for sure: getting as much sleep as possible is a high priority for many people.
When you start thinking about sleep training your baby, try to shut out any outside opinions and only focus on your opinion, along with your partner's opinion. Until those friends, grandparents, and online mamas are staying up all night with your baby while you rest blissfully, they don’t get to have an opinion on your sleep training decisions.
9 Do Your Research
There are a lot of factors that come into play when you are sleep training a baby (or a child for that matter) and jumping in head first without educating yourself can start you off on the wrong foot.
You definitely want to look into all the different methods and evaluate what you think will work best for your family. Just because something worked for your sister and her baby doesn’t mean it will work for you. You know your baby best and you need to make the best decision you can, armed with the knowledge to support you.
Before they begin sleep training, many parents overlook the atmosphere that their baby is sleeping in. But in fact, this is where you should start.
Temperature is an important factor in getting a good night's sleep because a room that is too hot or too cold will keep the baby awake and fussy. Light (or lack thereof) is also important. Invest in some blackout curtains and make the room as dark as possible. If your child wants a highlight, that is of course fine.
Sound is another thing that can make or break a good night's sleep. A sound machine with nature sounds can make a huge improvement in the quality of sleep that your child gets. It blocks out noise from the rest of the house and also mimics sounds similar to those in the womb which can be comforting, especially for younger babies. Creating the right atmosphere can set you and your baby up for sleep training success.
7 Sleep Pattern Mistakes
Sleep patterns change throughout our lives depending on our age. New babies typically follow a 90 minute sleep/wake schedule, then gradually progress to 12 hours by the time they’re around preschool age.
Parents often try to put their children to sleep at times that are convenient for them, but not necessarily the correct timing for the child’s sleep/wake cycle. When you’re researching different sleep training methods, look at the sleep/wake cycles of babies who are the same age as your little one. This will help you figure out exactly when you should be putting your little ones to bed.
6 Nap Problems
A lesser-known fact for many new parents is that the better your baby naps, the better they will sleep at night. This may seem counter-intuitive, as you’d think that the more they sleep during the day the less tired they will be at night, but this isn’t the case at all.
When your baby isn’t napping well, it throws off their whole sleep/wake cycle as mentioned above, and they become overtired and can’t fall asleep easily or fall into deep REM sleep. Ensuring your child is napping according to their sleep/wake cycles is extremely important before attempting to sleep train.
5 Bad Sleep Habits
On the list of bad sleep habits could be older children using pacifiers, thumb sucking, putting baby to sleep in the car, a baby falling asleep while you are nursing, etc.
There is a time and place for tools to help children sleep but you need to at least get enough sleep to survive and keep your tiny human alive. Cutting these bad habits out one at a time before you start sleep training will make the entire process easier. Even better, if you’re just about to bring a baby home, try not to fall into these habits from the get-go because that will make your life so much easier in the long run!
4 Waiting Too Long
Uh oh, is your toddler still waking up all night? Does preschooler still crawl into bed with you at night?
While it’s still possible to sleep train them (and obviously they won’t still be crawling into bed with you when they head off to college) the longer you wait to sleep train the more trying it can be.
If you are about to bring home a new baby that is the best time to start thinking about sleep training! After the first few weeks of having a sleeping newborn on your chest 24/7, you can start trying to put the baby down to sleep for their nap every 90 minutes, so they get used to falling asleep on their own, and sleeping somewhere like a crib or a playpen.
3 Bad Timing
If you aren’t getting a good night's sleep, it might be tempting to start sleep training ASAP done so you can get some rest, but your timing can have a huge effect on your success.
Starting something big like a new sleep routine needs yours and your child’s full attention and effort, so don’t try to start during a busy season like back to school time for your older kids, or when you’re already trying to potty train your child. Dedicate your energy to sleep training so that it can go more smoothly and hopefully work more quickly for you!
2 Giving In
No matter which method of sleep training you’re doing, you can't give in. Once you’ve started you need to commit 100%. If you backslide and let your child fall asleep on you, get out of bed, ask for drinks and snacks, climb into your bed, or whatever else is disrupting their sleep, they will just keep doing it and you’ll be doing more harm than good.
Make a plan for how you are going to handle any crying or upset ahead of time so you are prepared when the inevitable happens.
The number one wrench that you can throw into your sleep training plans is being inconsistent. This goes hand in hand with giving in. You must follow your routine (including getting ready for bed, timing, etc.) every single night without fail.
If your child senses even the slightest change in routine or hesitation on your part, they will start pushing back to see if you’re going to give in. Be sure all your baby’s caretakers are on board and know the schedule and routine so it can be stuck to even if you’re not home. You and your baby deserve to be well-rested and happy, and that means sticking to your guns and creating healthy sleep habits as early as possible. You can do this. Your baby can do this. Be patient and consistent. Happy sleeping!