Right now you are in the fog of sleep deprivation, and it may feel like you will never sleep again. But good sleep for you and your child is possible.
Preparing for sleep training is as important as the exercise itself. Think about these questions before you start sleep training:
Is my household perfectly healthy?
Dealing with the night's sleep is a big undertaking, and it is best done while everyone feels the best. This means that no one is fighting a cold and that baby is not cutting a tooth or recovering from any physical ailment. If you have any questions about your child's health, contact their pediatrician.
Has my child reached a weight where they can sleep all night with reduced feeding?
Your child's pediatrician may have specific recommendations for your family based on your child's developmental needs and progress, but as long as your child is at least four months old and 14 pounds, they can begin the sleep-learning process. When you start teaching your child to fall asleep and sleep all night, you may need to offer a dream feed once a night and work slowly to let go of the night feeding altogether.
Is my child going through a major transition or learning a new skill?
If your child is just starting to roll, crawl, stand or walk, it's not time to sleep. Learning to sleep is a skill, just like learning to walk. And just like you, children need some time to adjust to learning new skills. Do not flood your child by asking her to learn many new skills at once. Learning new skills is exciting and fun, and your child will fill their day with practicing their new skills and may have a harder time settling down for sleep at night. It is best to wait until the child has mastered his new skill during the day before asking her to work on a night skill.
In addition, if your child adapts to a larger transition, such as starting a daycare or moving to a new home, you should continue with sleep training until your family has a chance to adapt to this change.
Will my schedule for next week allow you to focus on sleep training?
Consistency is key when learning any new skill, so both you and your partner need to spend some time teaching your child to sleep. And while your child is likely to learn to sleep in a few days, you still need to spend time helping her master her new skills. The old word is true: the exercise is perfect. To maximize your time together, consider starting the sleep training process on a weekend when schedules are usually more flexible.
Is my child's usual caregiver a day to help your child learn to sleep?
Everyone in your child's life should be on the same page when it comes to sleep training. You want to avoid sending mixed signals to your child when it comes to sleep. Start by talking to your child's caregiver and giving them detailed instructions on routines and sleep tables. Ask your child's caregiver to stay as consistent as possible with your sleep schedule and plan to check in frequently, especially during the early days of sleep learning.
Have you just returned to work or are you coming back to work soon?
When the primary care provider has just returned to work or is leaving, the child may need some time to adjust to the change. Your household is likely to learn how to adapt to a new schedule and trying to sleep trains during this time is too much for everyone involved. Instead, wait until your family has fallen into a new routine and everyone feels comfortable dealing with a new challenge head.
For more insight on sleep training and how to get started, check out Dream Lab to get a customized sleep plan and schedule designed just for your child. Start with an in-depth assessment of sleep and find out how you can improve your child's sleep environment.
Dream Lab matches the parents to the sleep training method they are most comfortable with teaching the child to sleep through the night with the smallest possible tears. Good sleep for everyone is possible with Dream Lab.