Let me start by saying that no one sleeps worse than a baby. I don’t know how this phrase originated, but it’s all lies. After three months of sleep deprivation, new parents ask themselves whether they will ever get a good night’s rest again. Not to fear, all is not lost. It is at the fourth-month mark that one arrives at the crossroad. Whether or not to sleep train?
That brings us to the question what is sleep training?
Sleep training is a tool to teach your child to fall asleep independently without rocking, cuddling and nursing to sleep. They fall asleep by themselves and learn how to self-soothe and put themselves back to sleep when they wake up at night.
When can you sleep train your baby?
You can sleep train your baby after they become four months old. The number four is magical because this is when you will notice your baby undergoing the four-month sleep regression; your previously good sleeper might be waking up every hour on the hour. But it’s actually good news. Regression is a sign of a significant developmental leap that a baby undergoes at different stages of baby/toddlerhood. The four-month sleep regression signifies that the baby’s sleep cycle is maturing and becoming like our own. That they no longer require external assistance to put themselves to sleep.
How do you sleep train a baby?
Before I discuss the different methods of sleep training, I will elaborate on how sleep training works. It involves teaching your child how to self soothe and yes, this may involve a few tears. As difficult as that sounds, studies show letting your baby cry will not lead to any long-term emotional damage or attachment issues. On the contrary, it helps foster a healthier relationship between parent and child. According to child behavioural experts, it is not only safe but also beneficial for your infant’s overall development.
There are different methods of sleep training, some more gentle than others. Choosing the method entirely depends on what is right for your baby and you.
I sleep-trained Baby A when she was five and a half months old. When I make this proclamation, it is met by equal measures of horror and awe from my fellow parents. Some ask me for advice on how to do it and the method I used. Others explain how they just can’t imagine letting their children cry and not being able to attend to them. If I had to explain to each of them that Baby A is a much healthier and well-rested baby because of it, that she is happy and less irritable after I sleep trained her. Imagine if you woke up every two hours through the night? How would you feel? Perhaps cranky and tired. Now imagine a little baby having to do it. Babies need to sleep for extended periods because most of their brain development happens when they are snoozing. That being said, whether or not you sleep train your child is entirely up to you. You know what is best for your baby. God knows raising a baby is hard enough without dealing with the burden of other people’s judgement.
Parenthood is like a carousel; it spins round and round, leaving you dizzy and disoriented. It helps to have a guide to walk you through it and to help make your options known to you when you’ve just spent the third consecutive night doing a three am desperate google search on how to get your baby to sleep.
Devanshi Shanay Shah is a bookworm. She is a Master’s in literature and writing from the University of Cambridge. A voracious reader, she has an appetite for fiction and poetry. Mother to one-year-old Ayesha who doesn’t give her much time for any of the things mentioned above. But yes, she manages to work on her debut novel.