April 3, 2023
Digging through the wealth of information available on the internet to determine whether or not to sleep train your baby can feel totally overwhelming. Everyone has such strong opinions, every method claims to be “THE best way” or “the ONLY way”. The truth is, what you need to find is the way that fits best with your family and your baby.
Before looking for methods for sleep training, I like to start all the way back at the basic foundations of sleep. Before you even consider a method, making sure you have the foundations of great sleep in place will allow your child the best chance for independent sleep.
These sleep foundations give your child the best opportunity for success, because you are providing them with everything they need to fall asleep, and stay asleep, getting them the rest they need.
Waking your baby at the same time every day is hugely beneficial when looking for ways to help your child sleep independently. Our babies have a natural wake time that is somewhere between 6-8 am. By keeping our morning wake times at the same time everyday, we are helping to promote predictable nap schedules through the day, which in turn help to promote better nightsleep. If we think of baby sleep as a cycle that is linked, better days = better nights = better days and so forth. By having a set morning wake time, we have a day that begins to come together in more predictable fashion. We know that babies thrive on routine and by waking our baby at the same time everyday we can help to set that routine. Having a set morning wake time allows us to be more in control of the amount of day sleep our baby has, this allows us to be more in control of the amount of sleep they have in total ensuring that our baby has the right amount of sleep pressure for longer stretches of more restful nightsleep.
Sleep environment begins to play a major role in your little one’s ability to fall and stay asleep around 6-8 weeks of life. Suddenly, your baby won’t be able to sleep anywhere. This is when we can really have a huge impact on our baby’s ability to sleep. By providing an environment that is conducive to great sleep we can help our babies get the rest they need. The optimal sleep environment for our babies is: dark, cool with white noise. We want the room to be as dark as possible, as even a little sliver of light can interrupt your baby’s ability to connect their sleep cycles. Use white noise to block out any noisy interruptions like dogs barking, horns honking and so on. Lastly we want to make sure the environment is nice and cool, roughly 69-72 degrees Fahrenheit (20-22 celsius).
If you haven’t already, take this as your sign to do a Wake Window deep dive. I always tell my clients that wake windows are the single most important tool for great sleep. Put simply, a wake window is the amount of time that your baby can stay awake without becoming overtired. If your baby becomes overtired, their body floods with cortisol which then prevents them from falling and staying asleep. By using age appropriate wake windows, we can make sure that our children have the right amount of sleep pressure to achieve longer, more restful stretches of sleep.
Just like wake windows, the number of naps your baby needs varies with age. At first, your younger baby make take many short naps, and as they grow they begin to consolidate their sleeping patterns and take fewer naps that are longer. Ensuring that you offer your baby the number of naps appropriate for their age supports them in getting the right amount of sleep. Too many or too few naps can cause broken nights and early mornings, two things that are typically the number one complaint I see for parents. Equally, we want to make sure that the nap that is closest to bedtime is not too long. A very long nap late in the day can prohibit longer stretches of sleep at night.
If you’ve been here for a while, I’m sure you’ve seen and heard me talk about bedtime more than once! Having a consistent and early bedtime is the final foundation of sleep we want to implement before looking to sleep train. Since babies become aligned to the solar clock as their circadian rhythm begins to mature, they biologically become tired when the sun goes down. This means that babies have a natural sleep time between 6-8pm, most commonly this is 7pm. Equally, babies need 11-12 hours of night sleep (this is more restful than day sleep), so if a baby has a natural wake time between 6-8 am, we want to make sure we are getting them into bed 12 hours prior to that. You can read more about bedtime here.
Once you have your foundations in place, your baby has the best chance at success for longer more restful stretches of sleep during the day and at night. Having these foundations will help make sleep training a smoother and more successful process.
If you have any questions or need an extra hand, get in touch to book a free discovery call! I would love to talk to you and see how I can help.