Newborn baby sleep training
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Your baby is not the only one who does not fall asleep without being held or does not sleep all night long in her own crib. This is not normal for any baby in the world. Just like humans transition through different sleeping cycles in the night, babies also have sleep cycles.
Follow the next tips to help you sleep train your baby:
1. Understand your baby’s sleep needs
In the first two months, your baby’s need to eat overrules her need to sleep. A breastfed baby may eat every 2 hours and less often for a bottle-fed baby. Newborns sleep for 10 to 18 hours a day, 3 or 4 hours at a time. However, a baby does not know the difference between day and night so they sleep regardless of what time it is. Your baby might be wide awake from 1 am to 5 am.
2. Set a bedtime routine
Babies who follow a bedtime routine go to sleep easier, sleep better and cry out less in the middle of the night.
You can start sleep training your baby on a bedtime routine as early as 6 -8 weeks old.
By about 4 months, babies have typically started to develop a regular sleep-wake cycle and dropped most of their night feedings. These are signs they may be ready to start sleep training.
For the first few weeks after your baby arrives home, you can start preparing your newborn to a bedtime routine that will consist of taking a bath, feeding, soothing and going to bed. Although babies sleeping cycles are short (around 3-4 hours) during these first weeks, it is important to start practicing a certain routine that will later help you and your baby during the sleep training.
The routine should have a combination of regular bedtime activities. The keys to a successful bedtime routine include:
- Playing non-active games at night so that your baby is not overexcited just before they sleep
- Having consistency in the kind of activities you do before bed
- Keeping the activities calm and quiet
- Saving your baby’s favorite activity for last
- A bath before bedtime helps to calm your baby and helps with setting up a bedtime routine
- After the bath, breastfeed or bottle feed your baby and put her in bed
- Making nighttime conditions in your baby’s bedroom consistent
3. Put your sleepy baby to sleep
Soothe your baby until she is drowsy, starting when she is 6 to 12 weeks old. Just as she is on the verge of sleep, put her down and let her drift off on her own. You should not wait until she is fully asleep in your arms because it could develop into a habit that may become a struggle to get rid of later in life.
Eventually, your baby will learn how to soothe herself to sleep and you will not need to rock or cuddle her to sleep every time she wakes up during the night.
4. Allow your baby to cry it out
When your baby is at least 6 months, you can try this sleep training method. When you have put your baby in her crib in a drowsy state and then she cries, wait for a few minutes before checking on her. When you re-enter the room, console her without picking her up. Don’t stay longer than 2 to 3 minutes even if she is still crying when you leave.
If she continues to cry, increase the amount of time you wait before going in to check on her again. At first, adapting to this method is difficult but after four days, your baby actually starts getting used to it.
Sleep training your newborn is not easy. You need to be patient and resilient with whatever method you use.