If you’re a parent to an infant, naps and bedtime can be a time of great stress. It is tough to have to hear your baby cry, but tears seem to be an inevitable part of sleep for a baby. I truly believe it is much harder on the parent than it is for the baby.
When a five year old is not wanting to go to sleep, they say, “I don’t want to go to bed” or “I’m not tired”, or “Hold me”.
Since a baby’s only communication is crying, they are essentially saying the same thing. If your baby is fed, changed,
not too hot or cold, they are communicating that they are tired and want to be held, rocked, or nursed to sleep the way you
have been doing prior to the sleep training. A baby simply needs to learn how to fall asleep on their own without the help
of the parent, and doing so will most likely cause tears of discomfort.
The younger you begin the sleep training, the easier it will be for the both of you. The first time will be the hardest.
For me, I had a million questions running through my mind: Am I harming him by letting him cry? Will he think I don’t love
him? Maybe something else is wrong? I don’t see how helping him sleep, while comforting him, will harm him. He definitely
knows I love him because all of his wants and needs are being met on a regular basis. As stated earlier, if his diaper is
fresh, his belly is full and his temperature is right, he is simply just tired and frustrated.
When your baby is not feeling well, has a cold or is extra clingy for any particular reason, it is okay to let your baby fall asleep in your arms. Just like an older child wanting to sleep with you after a bad dream or when they’re sick, the same goes for your baby. If this goes on for a few days, your baby may become accustomed again to being held. All you need to do is repeat the steps to help them relearn how to sleep. The next time around will be much easier than the first sleep training sessions.
BabyCenter.com has a wonderful article on this topic and I’m including an excerpt from their website that gives you step by step instructions, including exact time intervals. I’ve personally used these exact steps to great success with my son.
After he has finished nursing and is getting heavy eyes, I can now lay him in his crib and watch as he falls asleep on his
own. Hang in there, your baby will learn how to sleep if you remain consistent…and strong!
First, wait until your baby is physically and emotionally ready to sleep through the night, usually between 4 and 6 months of age. Ferber doesn’t designate a precise age at which to begin his technique, since it can vary so much depending on the child.
If you’re not sure whether your baby’s ready, you can always give it a try or discuss it with your child’s doctor. If you encounter too much resistance, wait a few weeks and try again.
Put your baby in his crib when he’s sleepy but still awake.
Say goodnight to your child and leave the room. If he cries when you leave, let him cry for a predetermined amount of time. (See “How long should I leave my child alone?” below.)
Go back into the room for no more than a minute or two to pat and reassure your baby. Leave the light off and keep your voice quiet and soothing. Don’t pick him up. Leave again while he’s still awake, even if he’s crying.
Stay out of the room for a little bit longer than the first time and follow the same routine, staying out of the room for gradually longer intervals, each time returning for only a minute or two to pat and reassure him, and leaving while he’s still awake.
Follow this routine until your child falls asleep when you’re out of the room.
If your child wakes up again later, follow the same routine, beginning with the minimum waiting time for that night and gradually increasing the intervals between visits until you reach the maximum for that night.
Increase the amount of time between visits to the nursery each night. In most cases, according to Ferber, your baby will be going to sleep on his own by the third or fourth night – a week at the most. If your child is very resistant after several nights of trying, wait a few weeks and then try again.
How long should I leave my child alone?
In his book, Ferber suggests these intervals:
- First night: Leave for three minutes the first time, five minutes the second time, and ten minutes for the third and all subsequent waiting periods.
- Second night: Leave for five minutes, then ten minutes, then 12 minutes.
- Make the intervals longer on each subsequent night.
Keep in mind that there’s nothing magical about these waiting periods. You can choose any length of time you feel comfortable with.