One of the biggest complaints new parents share across the board is sleep deprivation. Sleep training means teaching your baby to fall asleep without you at bedtime and when they wake up at night. This results in better sleep for the baby and the parents. Here’s to ending infant-related sleep deprivation. Here are some common mistakes parents make when sleep training children.
Mistake: Starting sleep training at the wrong time
A common mistake parents make is starting sleep training too early or too late. The sweet spot is between four and six months old. Startle gently at four months old. Before four months, it’s best to just follow the baby’s cues. Timing also includes what’s happening in your life. Don’t start during an overly stressful period in your life such as before a big presentation or when guests are staying over. Agree with your partner on when to start and make it when you’re both ready.
Mistake: Failing to research
There are different sleep training methods to choose from based on a variety of factors including your temperament. Research to find what method works best for you. Don’t just do what you’ve heard other people do. Once you’ve done your research, don’t allow fear of what other people will say to deter you. Fear of judgment is very common especially for new parents, and for new moms specifically.
Consistency is key. Once you decide on a sleep training method and a bedtime routine, stick to it. This way the baby will learn faster. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about everything from naps to bedtime otherwise the system will confuse the baby and fall apart. It’s especially important to be consistent during the first nights. Schedule your life accordingly so that it remains smooth even if you’re going out or hosting friends or engaging in some other activity in or out of the home.
Mistake: Not working on naps and night-time simultaneously
A common mistake parents make is not sleep training for naps and night-time simultaneously. Some parents, in an effort to help their children and keep them from being overtired help the fall asleep for naps then try and train them to fall asleep on their own at night. This is not a good idea and it’s ineffective to boot. Use your preferred training method for both naps and nighttime so that they get on the new plan faster.
Mistake: Unrealistic expectations and quitting
Each baby is different and it’s best to keep that in mind when you start sleep training. Don’t succumb to pressure from that friend of yours whose baby was sleeping through the night at three months old with no training. Expect it to be difficult especially if you’re using a method like cry it out (CIO). What’s important to remember is it gets worse before it gets better. This is called the Extinction paradox, the idea that undesirable behaviour worsens before it improves when you’re trying to get rid of it. In younger children, it usually works within three to seven days with major crying being mostly in the first few days. Don’t quit on day 3 of crying, day 4 may just do the trick. Hang in there.
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