Having a baby is not an easy task! Yes, it’s beautiful to see them grow and get to know them more every day, but it can certainly become a challenging experience, especially since during the early years, you and your baby will be in constant change and adaptation. One of the biggest changes and adjustments is sleep and all that it entails, including sleep training methods.

Sleep habits (Granic et al., 2010; Sears et al., 2008) are crucial for both the healthy development of your baby and your continued health. Without a full rest, both you and your baby’s performance, health, and mood will be affected, so it is very important to try to always meet this basic need!

There are many sleep training approaches that you can follow to help your baby sleep. Some are more effective than others, but they all depend on your baby’s personality and preferences. There is no exact recipe to ensure a quick and effective way to get a baby to sleep, that’s why you need to get to know your baby and learn what works for them. There are ways to set parameters to identify and anticipate effective techniques.

More on sleep training methods

Continuing with what we said in Part I of this series, here are some other methods you might want to try out to get started on forming healthy sleeping habits!

Anticipate your baby’s sleep

The objective of this technique is to stay one step ahead of your baby’s demands for sleep. If you identify diverse manifestations, you can address and change your baby’s habits and avoid reaching the demand for sleep through crying and emotional instability.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Observe your baby’s behavior before wanting sleep.
    1. Identify signs of tiredness, these range from rubbing their eyes, yawning, getting a little restless, among others. Every baby is different, so it is important to avoid generalizations.
    2. To properly detect and record these signs it is advisable to take notes of the time, manifestation, and duration. A week of observation and recording your child’s behavior should be enough!
  2. Be aware of what YOU do to get them to sleep. 
    1. This is important so that you can know which approach worked best in the past. This can vary from pats on the back, singing a lullaby, and rocking your baby to sleep.
    2. You can also take note of how long each approach takes to get your baby to settle and sleep.
  3. Once you have detected your baby’s signs of fatigue and the most effective strategies in step two, tend to your baby’s needs when you notice that they’re getting tired. 
    1. It is important to try to do this right away so that you prevent their accentuated demand for sleep. Start by speaking softly and slowly, and then implement the strategy that was more effective for them.

PROS:

  • You will be creating associations and conditioning to effectively guide your baby to sleep.
  • It is ideal to avoid sleep-needing crises, which are more time-consuming and difficult to overcome.
  • With this method, you will be learning more about your baby, their behaviors, and you will have greater control of situations.
  • It will set the foundation for having a steady sleep schedule!

CONS:

  • The first week can be a bit tedious and difficult, given that you need to let your baby demand sleep to observe their reactions.
  • It takes time and patience.
  • You need to divide your attention between action and awareness of the measures taken. For a week, it is necessary to fulfill multiple tasks: observation and action.

Comforting technique

For any baby, being in the presence of their mother is a crucial component for feeling safe. When your baby is near you, they feel comfortable, allowing them to fall asleep quickly and for longer. However, once you decide to leave your little one in their crib, it is useful to leave something associated with you behind, as an extension of you.

Here’s how it works:

  1. During one or two weeks, get your baby to go to sleep while using a particular object. Something warm and soft to the touch; blankets or soft plush objects are great for this! Place this object close to you and your baby, so that both of you are touching it.
  2. Once your baby falls asleep, be sure to place the object in the crib, so that they continue having contact with it until they wake up.
  3. If your baby wakes up during the night, first try to gently stroke them with the soft object, and comfort them with a soft voice.
  4. Gradually your baby will learn to associate the object with comfort and care. This will help you maintain their sense of security even when sleeping alone in their crib.

Keep in mind that, as a recommendation to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), before your baby turns one year old there should be nothing in the crib while they sleep, thus, this technique should not be used before this time.

PROS:

  • Studies (Pantley et al., 2002) have shown that the security and care of a mother can be transferred when associated with a comforting object.
  • With this technique, you will gradually be working on encouraging your baby’s independence and personal resources.
  • By using the object that has been associated with sleep, you can adjust your baby’s bedtime. They will continue associating the presence of the object with sleep.

CONS:

  • For it to be more effective, the object must acquire your scent, this can take one to two weeks. It is important to keep the object clean and hygienic.
  • You may need to restart the association of the object once it has been washed.

Establishing any habit takes time, effort, perseverance, and patience. This process can be hard at first since it involves time and dedication, however, you will find that sleep training methods have pleasant results for everyone in your family!

Sweet dreams!