Sleep is essential for the healthy growth and development of your child. With sleep requirements for children varying from 14-17 hours for newborns through to 10-13 hours for 3-5 year olds, it is no wonder that sleep (or lack of) is a hot conversation topic in homes with small children. Whilst all children respond differently, sleep training can help your child string together successive hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Sleep training, helping your baby to fall asleep and remain asleep, will not be effective for newborns. By three to six months your baby will have developed their circadian rhythm, with their sleep/wake patterns responding to light and dark. At this point babies will be able to sleep from nine to twelve hours at night. Although there are numerous methods to choose from and these tips are universal to each of them.
- Establish a bed time routine. Children thrive on routine and predictability. Sleep training revolves around setting a bedtime and where practical, sticking with it. A warm bath, massage, lullabies or a story are wonderful additions to quiet time before bed.
- Maintain a consistent daytime schedule. From an early age try also to keep meals and day time naps at regular times. Your child will quickly become familiar with the program, learning to relax and settle more easily.
- Teach your baby to self-settle. Pop your little one into bed when they begin to show signs of tiredness but before they fall asleep. Allowing your child to fall asleep on their own, will build their ability to calmly return to sleep without crying should they wake in the night.
- Things will go wrong. Sickness, holiday, visitors, work commitments. These are all challenges that will disrupt your day and unsettle your bub. Keeping to your routine will help these nights pass more smoothly.
- Do what works for you. There are a multitude of options for sleep training, some advocate crying others no crying at all. You may need to try several different methods before you find one that suits your family. Don't be disheartened, by nine months, 70 percent of babies are sleeping through the night.