Sleep training is usually no walk in the park. Moms are at the point where they just want to sleep more than a few hours again! Sleep training can be a quick success or full of frustrating regressions for months depending on your approach. Avoid common sleep training mistakes to make sure you get back to those Zzz’s you’ve been missing!
Starting Too Early
An important part of sleep training is making sure your baby is ready to start. Babies typically have the ability to self-soothe between 4-6 months of age, however, the ideal sleep training age is 6 months. Read your baby’s signs to determine if they are ready for sleep training, regardless of their age. Some 6-month-olds might not be quite ready yet.
Not Having a Routine
Babies are learning every step of the way! The best way to teach them about bedtime expectations is to develop a routine that they can become familiar with. Creating that routine will help baby know when it is time for bed, and over time, most likely lessen the objection you hear from baby through the night.
Having inconsistent responses to crying at night is a sure way to send sleep training spiraling out of control. For example, if you bring baby to sleep in the bed with you some nights and not others, it will positively reinforce screaming at night. That doesn’t mean that baby will never need you. They could be feeling sick or just having a bad night, but try to keep your responses to crying the same nightly whether it is patting them on the back, allowing them to cry it out, or playing music to soothe them back to sleep. Babies respond to the responses that they get.
Another common mistake of sleep training is feeding your baby all night long. If you are sleep training, chances are that baby does not need those feedings at night anymore. Between 6 and 9 months of age, children no longer need the extra calories at night. Although it can be a tough habit to break, it can keep you and baby happier with the sleep that you both need.
If you live in an apartment or your children share a room, sleep training could be much more difficult. Often, apartment living can make you feel like you need to keep baby quiet to not disturb the neighbors, which could be a challenge. If your children share a room, it is suggested that you move the older child into your room while sleep training.
Your baby should get the hang of sleep training in about a week if you stay consistent. That doesn’t mean that they will be a pro-sleeper but you should see some progression. If you do not see any progress with your baby’s sleep, you may want to consider any underlying medical conditions that could be affecting your baby’s sleep. Children with sleep apnea, asthma, illness, pain, or fear of the dark may not respond to any typical sleep training techniques.
Dive into sleep training with an open mind and remember that every baby will be different. Whatever worked for your first baby, may not work for your second. If you make a sleep training mistake, don’t fret! Just start again and use trial and error to learn what works best for your baby. Enjoy the nights and guide your baby to sleep success!