You kiss your baby on the forehead, tuck the baby in, and wish the baby goodnight. Sounds simple right? But, getting a baby to sleep can prove to be a frustrating challenge for many parents. Some experts believe this process can be simplified through sleep training. In some cases, sleep training can help your baby sleep independently as well as acquire healthy sleep habits.
Though for most of us, sleeping comes naturally, this is not the case for babies, especially newborns, who have to adjust to the new phenomenon of life outside the womb. On top of not knowing when to sleep, babies do not have an idea of how to sleep. This is where sleep training might be beneficial. Sleep training can help a baby get the proper amount of sleep. Over time, if the training is effective, the baby will start to get used to the routine and will eventually be able to sleep independently.
Sleep training should begin when your baby is four-six months old but can change depending on individual development and needs. There are many effective sleep-training methods. One is the check-and-console method, which involves continuously checking on your baby at your own set intervals but not feeding them or rocking them if you find them awake. Instead, if the baby is awake at your interval check, reassure the baby with a phrase of choice or a reassuring gentle pat or rub on the head.
A second method involves letting the baby cry it out. After leaving your baby in the crib at night, leave the room, and do not return until the morning. This may often result in the baby crying for long intervals of time, so it is a bit controversial. It is okay to comfort your baby for a minute or two when using this method if the crying won’t stop. A third method is the chair method, which can prove to be quite difficult. After putting your baby to sleep, sit in a chair next to your baby. When your baby falls asleep, leave the room, but every time your baby wakes up, sit back down in the chair until they fall back asleep. Every couple nights, transfer the chair to a location slightly further from the original position and keep doing this until you’re out of the room. This method is only useful if the parent has the time to do this through the night.
A fourth method, called bedtime-routine fading, involves using a bedtime routine of choice, such as rocking a baby to sleep, nursing, or gentle patting, and slowly decrease the time spent doing this until you don’t do it at all. A fifth method is bedtime-hour fading, which involves slowly moving up the time you place your baby in a crib to sleep until you reach the desired time you want them to sleep.
Sleep training comes naturally to some parents. Some use pacifiers, white noise machines, specific bedtime routines, and an assortment of things. But all babies are different. Some babies can be more difficult to establish a bedtime routine with. This is where professional sleep training might be beneficial. Sleep trainers have experience with parents in need of assistance making their baby sleep at the proper time and independently. Different sleep trainers use different methods to help parents.
In the Tampa Bay Area, The Tiny Human Sleep Coach, founded by Marilyn Banse aims to educate and supports parents of babies and children under the age of 6 years on sleep, the benefits of sleep, how much sleep each child needs for their age, and how to help them get the sleep they need. Marilyn is a certified pediatric sleep specialist and currently the only certified sleep consultant in Pinellas County as of now, so quality is assured.
Another organization that offers sleep-training services is Nannies Who Care, a full-service nanny agency that provides peace of mind to families with safe, stress-free sleep-training methods. Their caregivers have noticed first-hand the effects of a missed nap or delayed bedtime. They are proud of teaching parents how to have improved sleep experience with their child.
Also, some free national resources to help you and your baby sleep successfully and healthfully are available online:
Sleep resource from the NCDHHS Division of Public Health [LINK] and a Sleep Safety Brochure [LINK]
Johnson & Johnson has a free infant sleep phone app [LINK]
Multiple blogs and magazine articles online [LINK]
If you want to reach organizations in the Tampa/St. Pete area for hands-on help try these local resources:
Marilyn from The Tiny Human Sleep Coach:
Nannies Who Care:
This article was researched and made possible by Bhavana Madhu as part of a service-learning internship with USF. Read more below or click the image to find out more about our student authors: