In the first 3-4 months of life, babies generally sleep on their own schedule. Unfortunately, this does not usually coordinate well with their parents’ sleep and wake schedules. There is good news. There are steps parents can take as early as 6 weeks of age that can make a difference in preparing for sleep training. One step is, try to establish a bedtime at the same time every night. This might seem like a waste of time, but it can really help establish some sense of routine.
Another step is, try to put your baby down in a crib or bassinet when drowsy, but still awake, to see if your baby can fall asleep on her own. When your baby is old enough and when you are feeling ready, there are many methods of formal sleep training. Here are some of the most common methods of sleep training babies in New Orleans.
Cry it Out
This method is the "tough-love" approach. The idea is to put your baby down to sleep and walk away even if your baby cries. Proponents of the method maintain that babies can learn the self-soothing skills necessary to fall asleep on their own if they are actually on their own. For example, if a child is soothed to sleep by a parent, the child will never learn to go to sleep without them. The goal isn't to make your baby cry. Rather, sleep training babies this way is all about skill development.
This method is the opposite of cry it out. For the no tears approach, parents soothe the baby to sleep all the time. The prevailing opinion is that cry it out is too harsh and will create lifelong emotional scars in babies' psyches. When sleep training babies in New Orleans, proponents argue that parents should create a bonding time that reinforces the parent-baby relationship and strengthens the attachment between the two. Many who favor the no-tears approach also favor "attachment parenting," which involves keeping children as close as possible for as long as possible. The theory is that such close contact creates healthy associations with sleep in the babies' minds.
Fading is the middle-of-the-road approach. With this technique, the baby is put to sleep in a crib and then a parent or caregiver sits nearby while waiting for the baby to go to sleep. The idea is to reduce the amount of time spent in the baby's room gradually. For instance, a parent might sit with the baby for two or three hours the first week but only a half hour a few weeks later. The end goal is for the parent to put the baby to sleep and have the baby drift off immediately. This is also sometimes called the "camping out" method.
There is a secondary method of fading that involves timed check-ins. A parent with evening work to do, for example, could check in every 10 minutes at the beginning, reassuring the baby. Here, the goal would be to gradually increase the time between check-ins until no check-ins are necessary. This method should only be tried with children at least 5 months old.
Difficulties When Sleep Training Babies in New Orleans
When babies are not sleeping, one or both parents are sleep deprived as well. Parent self-care is essential during this time. Splitting responsibilities or getting outside help is so important.
Keep in mind, there is no one method for how to sleep train that works for everyone. Many parents will try all three of these methods and then devise a plan of their own. Whatever the technique, parent readiness for sleep training and utilizing a consistent technique are huge contributors to how successful sleep training is.
There is no right way to do this! Every baby is different. Parents are also different in terms of what approach feels most ideal.
Seek Help When You Sleep Train
It is completely normal to feel out of sorts during this stage of your babies’ life. Strain on your marriage or primary relationships is also normal. Dr. Arian Elfant is happy to set-up a sleep consultation with you, help you come up with a plan and answer any questions you might have.