Sleep Training doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and practicing of skills. It’s your job as a parent to make it as easy as possible for your baby. And it’s our job at Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny to make it as seamless as possible for you! The key to success is consistency, as well as preparing both you and your baby for what’s to come.
It might seem strange to think of sleeping as a skill that does not come naturally. However, newborns need a little help and coaching to develop positive sleeping habits.
Begin with Sleep Conditioning
Sleep conditioning can begin once your baby is 10 pounds and gets the go-ahead from the pediatrician. It does not leave your baby crying at any point. Instead, sleep conditioning works with your baby to practice soothing techniques to gently stretch the time between night time feedings. You offer your baby soothing techniques until he begins to cry and then immediately feed him. This teaches him techniques to later self-soothe. If you sleep condition, then sleep training will run much more smoothly.
Fading Sleep Supports
Between three and four months old you will want to start fading out some of your child’s sleep supports. These have helped your baby fall asleep, such as rocking, a pacifier, or being swaddled. It’s important that a baby is given opportunities to fall asleep on his own so that he doesn’t become reliant upon parents or caregivers to fall asleep. With this in mind, rocking a baby to sleep tends to be the first sleep aid suggested to fade away around 3 – 4 months of age. You can do this by starting to put baby in the crib / bassinet awake but drowsy instead of asleep. As baby becomes more secure in his sleep skills, he may naturally wean himself from the reliance of a pacifier. White noise tends to be the last sleep aid to fade away, if you choose to do so at all.
Dropping the Swaddle & Moro Reflex
The next step to prepare for sleep training is to transition out of a swaddle; follow these steps for success! I suggest doing this at 4 months of age. Then you’ll begin the process of helping your child work through the moro reflex. The moro reflex looks like baby being startled and often wakes himself as he flings his arms and legs outward.
You may know that the moro or startle reflex goes away between 4 and 6 months of age. What I bet you didn’t know is that each time your child experiences the moro reflex, they learn that they are safe and in fact not falling. Every time they experience it, their brain makes the connection and this helps your baby grow out of the reflex sooner. In addition, the more your baby practices tummy time and rolling the stronger their muscles become. This leads to the decrease of the moro reflex as well.
Begin Sleep Training
You have now spent the first 4 months of life sleep conditioning your child with love. Then you worked on transitioning out of the swaddle and moving past the moro reflex. These are the biggest hurdles. Now you will start sleep training with a well prepared baby who has already had some practice at self-soothing. My son was sleep trained in three nights, never crying more than 15 minutes. My second child, who I thought was going to be more strong willed, sleep trained in just two nights never crying more than 10 minutes. I always thought I just had easy babies, until I took time to replay everything. I realized it was the sleep conditioning and prep work that brought us such smooth success.
Be sure to check out our online class, Sleep Coaching 101, written by two certified sleep consultants with years of experience. If you are looking for more guidance with in-person assistance, then reach out to Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny today. We have certified sleep consultants that can walk you through every step. To learn more give us a call at 781-444-4063.
About The Author
Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and is a Certified Potty Training Expert. At Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny she is the eLearning and Social Media Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her children, going for walks with her family, and discovering local wineries in New England.