When is the Right Time to Teach Your Baby to Sleep?

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There are two things I can pretty much guarantee you when it comes to teaching your baby to sleep well.

  1. It’s going to be a challenge
  2. It’s going to be eminently worth it.

I rarely work with a family whose baby went right down on the first night and just magically slept through from then on. Some have slept through the night on the second night of training. Most families start seeing results on night three or four. However, the first few nights can be really tough.

I’ve also never worked with a family who didn’t feel like they had made a tremendous decision once their baby had learned the skills to be able to sleep well. The benefits to the whole family are indescribable. I know this first hand. I was once the family reaching out for help, guidance, and support with our little guy. Having him start sleeping well made such a positive impact on our lives that I went out and achieved my certification in pediatric sleep so that I could help other families feel the amazing benefits of a well rested lifestyle.

Like many big decisions though, there are times that are ideal and times that are less so. Today, I’d like to offer some tips for deciding whether or not it’s the right time to embark on this challenging, but oh-so-rewarding journey.

Can you commit to being home?

Outside of the current circumstances, it can be a little tricky to commit two (or more) full weeks to being home to work on sleep. We all have lives, work and social commitments, and appointments to keep. What I ask of families is to carve out two full weeks of time where there is no travel, or out of town guests staying at the house. The regular run of the mill doctor appointments and such are inevitable and mostly unavoidably necessary. Right now though, many parents are either working from home or not working at all. this allows an opportunity to be at home and help your little one learn how to sleep independently. Being at home allows your child the best opportunity for learning and developing their sleep skills, in the comfort of their own home.

Is the time right for baby?

The best chance for a quick and effective solution to your baby’s sleep issues is to implement the changes when they’re healthy and thriving. If baby’s dealing with a cold, reflux, or colic, you’ll want to get that remedied before you start sleep training. There’s going to be some fussing and protest in the first few nights, and we want to make sure it’s only due to the change in their routine, not because of actual discomfort. If they’re healthy, it’s much easier to pinpoint the reasons for their fussing.

Are you and your significant other on the same page?

If you’re raising your baby with a partner, it’s important that both of you are committed to the process. This can be a trying ordeal for the first little while. If your partner thinks it’s not a good idea, there’s likely going to be a point where they manage to convince you to give in. To resort to whatever “sleep prop” you usually use to get your baby to sleep. So before you get started, make sure you and your partner have both signed on and can rely on one another for support. I have to say, I have witnessed some of the most amazing and supportive parenting teams over the years.

Can you stand a couple of nights without a lot of sleep?

I have to be honest. Changing up someone’s sleep habits is almost never met with a lot of enthusiasm for the first while. It’s likely that nobody is going to get a lot of rest for the first 48 hours. If you have an important meeting or a major event coming up in the next few days that you need to be in peak condition for, you might want to wait until next weekend to get things underway.

Are the symptoms of sleep deprivation starting to impact your life?

Are you starting to feel depressed, moody, forgetful, unmotivated, clumsy, or unfocused? Is your sex drive starting to wane? Have you noticed an increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings?

These are all symptoms of sleep deprivation and they’re no laughing matter. Society tends to make light of the whole, “exhausted new parent” persona, but the more we learn about the health effects of sleep deprivation, the less of a joke it becomes. If you’re sleep-deprived or feel like you’re on the verge, now’s the time to take some action.

Is their nursery set up and ready to go for sleep?

It is recommended that baby share a room with parents until 6 months as a protective factor for SIDS. However, not room sharing doesn’t increase the risk of SIDS for your baby. So if you are all going to sleep better with baby in their own room it may be something worth exploring for your family when you feel ready. Over the years I have found that putting baby into their own room helps tremendously to learn to sleep independently. There are a few decorating guidelines to help baby get the hang of this thing as quickly as possible though. Their room should be as dark as you can possibly get it. Put up some blackout blinds, hang a dark flat sheet, or tape up some garbage bags over the windows. It’s not pretty but 100% darkness will really help with daytime naps and earlier than desired morning wake ups.

A note on safe sleep.

Get rid of any mobiles, crib aquariums, or light-emitting devices that claim to help baby sleep. (I can assure you, they don’t.) An ideal nursery is really quite boring. Bare is best when it comes to your little one’s sleep space. No bumpers, positioners, blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals should be in your baby’s crib. Baby should recognize their room as a place to sleep. I suggest keeping their toys and stuffed animals in another room.

Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment.

Like I said earlier, now might not be the ideal time to take the initiative to help your baby sleep through the night. Getting started and having to stop because of some bad planning is likely going to cause some confusion and minimize your chances for success. But remember, there’s always going to be something that isn’t exactly ideal. Teething, crawling, rolling over, and other developmental milestones, shouldn’t impede baby’s ability to sleep through the night. Plus they’re not going to stop popping up until your little one’s about ready to graduate from high school.

If you feel like the time is right and you’re ready to get started, let’s get going! Get in touch. We can start putting together a plan for your baby right away. I know it’s a big decision, (It certainly was for me when I first made it with my little one) but the outcome is almost indescribably wonderful for the whole family. I’m ready when you are.

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