Sleep Training Tips: A Comprehensive Guide to Achieving Peaceful Nights for You and Your Baby
Enhance Your Sleep Routine: Top 10 Must-Know Sleep Training Tips for 2022
1. Have a nap routine.
If you’re trying to work on longer naps or easier settling, putting your baby down for a nap at a similar time each day is one of those under estimated things you can do as a parent to help this situation.
Often working with this level of consistency and working with your baby’s circadian clock can be a game changer for those who are finding limited success with random nap times based on awake windows.
Yes awake windows are some what easier to follow so I can see the attraction, but in my experience they are limited in success when it comes to those baby’s who are less easy going, less adaptable and don’t love change!
People who don’t like routines will claim putting your baby down at the same time each day is building a rod for your own back, and you’ll loose freedom and flexibility. But the amount of sleep your baby needs isn’t flexible, it is what it is, whether you choose to do it at the same time each day or a random time.
If having a guaranteed nap at the same time each day which I can then plan my day around is a rod for my back, its one I am more than happy about!
2. Learn how to put your baby down awake.
There is a reason this list of 10 tips are the top tips for 2022 based on your feedback!
These are all underestimated snippets and strategies. Often the missing pieces of the sleep puzzle.
If you’re struggling with any sleep issue, whether its short naps, difficult settles, broken nights, tricky evenings… the list is almost endless. In all of these cases, if you currently don’t put your baby down awake, this could be a game changer for you.
If your baby is over 4 months this will mean teaching them to self-settle in their cot, you can do this in a multitude of ways, this isn’t a plug for CIO.
Babies under 4 months will likely still respond well to hands on settling from awake to asleep in the cot. Things like side settling (not side sleeping) and patting to sleep, or even rocking the bassinet.
3. Create clear toddler boundaries.
Toddlers need to know their boundaries when it comes to sleep or any behavior to be honest. Letting your toddler lead the way is behaving like you think your 3 year old has enough wisdom to make all the decisions… they don’t.
But not only do they not have this wisdom, this is a lot of pressure for a 3 year old!
Cue melt downs! Toddlers need to know if they bounce up against a boundary you have in place, they will bounce back.
This might be trying to push out bedtime with begging for multiple books and snacks, you bounce them right back to bed with a silent return.
Or it could be a big push they give the boundary, and they get up and run screaming through the house, kicking and hitting you as you return them to bed. In this case you need to hold that boundary firmly in place, you might need to back up your silent return with a shut door for 5 minutes.
Or you might just need to be prepared to do 50 silent returns and not back down.
Either way, you are the boundary holder, you need to be a strong boundary, not a sometimes boundary, not a fence that bends with enough pressure for a 3 year old! And you need to be a clear boundary, not a transparent fence that isn’t visible on nights you’re tired and over it.
You’ll reap the benefits for years by establishing clear boundaries and following through.
4. Have a bedtime routine.
Another underestimated strategy backed by a lot of science. You can start a bedtime routine as early as a few weeks old.
A bed time routine can be as simple as a bath, a massage, a feed and into bed to be settled, or if they fall asleep feeding that’s ok too. It’s a sequence of events done at a similar time each day, with a dark sleep space at the end, which signal to your baby it’s the end of the day and its time to sleep.
Your baby’s body clock from early on is starting to produce melatonin at this time. Initially this isn’t a strong response and it takes time to settle into a big increase, but it is building over time and working with this hormone by setting up a bed time routine will almost guarantee you a better evening than if you don’t have one.
5. Know our baby’s temperament.
The backbone if what I teach. There is no one approach that will work for every baby, and learning your baby’s temperament is what will enable you to work out the best approach to their sleep settling style, and beyond!
We have a quiz in all our sleep programs to take you through a few simple questions to establish if your baby is more likely to respond to very gentle, gentle, or more hands off settling.
Once you know this, you can be sure you are working with your baby, not working against them.
6. Figure out your parenting style.
The second part to the temperament/parenting style equation, but the part which isn’t fixed. While your baby’s temperament is fixed and something they are born with. Your parenting style is adaptable.
If you thought you would be a super gentle parent but have a baby who is overwhelmed by your touch at sleep time, or over stimulated, you probably need to move to more hands off.
If you thought you are pretty mainstream when it comes to the spectrum of parenting styles, and didn’t gel with gentle philosophies but now have a baby who is sensitive and withdrawn, you probably need to learn about gentle settling styles.
I’m a firm believer if someone has to compromise on points 5 and 6, then it needs to be the adult.
I have seen so many situations where parent and baby are not on the same page, and the solution is just a style switch for the parents and the sleep falls into place quickly! Take it from someone who has 2 babies with a similar temperament, and 1 much more sensitive.
They needed different approaches and I learnt this the hard way.
7. Stop reinforcing wake ups you’re trying to stop.
This one sounds more brutal than it is. But I get a lot of messages that go something like this…. “I there, I am following your routine to a t, I have a good sleep environment, and I know my baby can self-settle, but they just wont stop waking for a feed every 2 hours at night.”
The routine, the sleep environment, and the ability to self-settle are all great, and are super important pieces of the puzzle.
But…. Very quickly the 2 hour wakes at night, and the feed back to sleep have become habitual, and continuing to feed each time they wake at the 2 hour mark reinforces the wake, despite all of the above.
You can have the perfect routine supporting good nights, and know your baby can self settle because they do for their naps, and have a great sleep environment, but until you change what you are doing at night…we can’t expect change in those wake ups.
Without realizing it, were reinforcing the wakes. Check out the online sleep programs for night plans to stop these habitual wakes and create longer nights without reinforcing extra wake ups.
8. Treat early wakes like night wakes.
Another one which people don’t like to hear. But if you think about it logically, at 2am when your baby wakes, are you going to say “Oh well its close enough to morning, lets just get up.”
Or are you going to feed and put them back to bed, or let them self-settle (depending on age).
If we treat 5am in the same way, even if the self settling takes 60-90 minutes (It’s still not 7am!), we wont end up with habitual early wakes.
Obviously this isn’t 100% of the pieces to this puzzle, and things like darkness, morning nap timing and length, and diet play a big role in early wakes too.
But these are the things that people are more inclined to change but then not tackle the early wake as a night wake.
9. Get a sleep plan.
This one is self explanatory. Often parents tell me they have tried “Everything” and “Nothing” works to improve their child’s sleep.
We are the experts in “nothing has worked”, we live in the nothing has worked space, and create plans that do work.
Sometimes the missing piece is the support. All our one on one consults come with phone support and our online programs come with access to the email support desk for questions you might have.
10. Stick to the sleep plan 80% of the time.
This one is interesting as some parents think they aren’t ready for a sleep solution as when it comes to putting up with poor sleep or having to follow a strict plan 24/7, they view the strict plan as the worse option.
But the reality is, in order for a plan to work, initially yes, try and stick to the changes suggested, but then following your plan for 80% of the time will generally keep sleep on track.
This means you can do naps on the go or in the car when you’re busy. You can go on holiday, you can push bed time a little, or sleep your baby in a different location. Just stick to the plan 80% of the time.