How to sleep train your baby
31-10-2016
Losing sleep night after night isn’t good for anyone. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to everything from heart disease to obesity. There are also mental-health risks. Sleep-deprived moms are at greater risk for post-partum depression. There is also a link between sleep deprivation and marital problems. It’s tough to be a patient, loving, present parent and spouse when you’re exhausted. Even if you’re willing to sacrifice your own well-being for the sake of your child, sleep deprivation is unhealthy.

What Is Sleep Training?

It is typically recommended teaching a baby who is at least four to six months old to self-soothe by establishing a consistent bedtime routine, making sure the room is quiet and dark and putting the baby to bed sleepy but awake. But babies who are used to being rocked, sung, nursed or otherwise helped to sleep tend not to like it when you stop. That’s why the most common form of sleep training is sometimes called “cry it out.”

Although there are many variations on the theme, including just leaving your baby on her own until she stops crying, most experts recommend periodic brief checks on your baby if she starts crying. This is known as the “controlled crying” technique.

Will Crying It Out Harm My Baby?

All the studies that have looked at short-term outcomes have actually found that babies are more securely attached and benefit in multiple ways following sleep training.

Parents and health professionals can confidently use these techniques to reduce the short- to medium-term burden of infant sleep problems and maternal depression.

However, there is also the view that if a baby is left to cry it out at sleep times, he cannot understand why his calls are answered only some of the time. Responding to a child’s cries is one way to build that trust from a young age so that the child knows that when he needs you, you will be there.

Children who don’t get enough sleep tend to exhibit increased aggression and tantrums. Lack of sleep may also affect children’s ability to learn. Older kids whose sleep was restricted experienced a significant increase in teacher-reported academic and attention problems. In addition, it was found that children were significantly better able to recall information they had learned after a good night’s sleep. Long story short, your child needs solid rest to be at his / her best.

Won’t My Baby Learn to Sleep Through the Night?

Don’t count on it. Some kids who had trouble going to sleep or waking up at night still had the same problem three years later while some settled down gradually.

If I Feel Guilty, Is That a Sign I Shouldn’t Do It?

Crying is a baby’s main way of communicating a state of unhappiness, fear, discomfort, loneliness or pain. A mother is biologically wired to respond to her baby’s cry and feels a physical need to respond. A mother who is letting her baby cry it out must fight this maternal instinct and often finds it a difficult task, frequently resulting in a mother’s tears in addition to the baby’s.

While hearing your baby wail can be heartrending, but continuing to respond doesn't allow your baby to change his/her habits. Whether your child is learning to walk, tie a shoe, ride a bike or do math homework, each time your child struggles, it’s going to be tempting to jump in and rescue them. When you do this, you are actually preventing them from learning for themselves what they can do to alleviate their frustrations. What Are My Alternatives?
One option is to just sleep with your baby. Co-sleeping babies rarely cry out at night, and when they do, they settle down four times faster than solo sleepers.

However, some parents find it tough to get much sleep with their baby in their bed, and others share their room with the child in a crib while some others still prefer a separate room for their child. Whichever your preference, start by setting a positive, consistent bedtime routine and schedule with quiet activities your child enjoys. Some lucky parents find that’s all it takes.

If that doesn’t do the trick, you may want to try the camping-out method of sitting with your child while he cries until he falls asleep and moving your chair further away from the crib every night until you’re out of the room. Some consider it a middle ground between the controlled-crying and no-cry methods.

Another key approach to the no-cry method is to tune in to your child, learn their sleepy signals, identify their sleep needs and set up a routine that supports their natural biology. First, find out why your child is waking up, and then see if you can solve that problem to help your child sleep better. Parents could create a sleep log for a couple of days and chart when the baby falls asleep, how long it takes him to fall asleep and how he does it. (Is he being fed or rocked?) Jot down nap times and bedtime along with any night wakings. Review the log to identify patterns that may need to be changed.

If you do decide to pursue a no-cry approach, however, keep in mind that it is likely to take longer than controlled-crying sleep training. Though some children do respond quickly, no-cry alternatives can sometimes take long to accomplish that many parents are too exhausted to hold the course. Worst of all, babies still cry, but instead of crying for four days, they may cry for months.

But some feel more comfortable always answering those cries. The irrefutable truth is that we cannot change a comfortable, loving-to-sleep (but waking-up-all-night) history to a go-to-sleep-and-stay-asleep-on-your-own routine without one of two things: crying or time.

Whichever method is ultimately chosen, it’s important to be consistent. You need to feel comfortable with the method you use to help your child sleep, or the method won’t work. If it feels better for you to hug your child or stay in the room, follow your instincts.
Ages
2 to 3
Calories
1,000-1,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
2-4 ounces
Fruits
1-1.5 cups
Vegetables
1-1.5 cups
Grains
3-5 ounces
Dairy
2-2.5 cups
Ages
4 to 8
Calories
1,200-2,000, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
3-5.5 ounces
Fruits
1-2 cups
Vegetables
1.5-2.5 cups
Grains
4-6 ounces
Dairy
2.5-3 cups
Ages
4 to 8
Calories
1,200-1,800, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
3-5 ounces
Fruits
1-1.5 cups
Vegetables
1.5-2.5 cups
Grains
4-6 ounces
Dairy
2.5-3 cups
Ages
9 to 13
Calories
1,600-2,600, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
5-6.5 ounces
Fruits
1.5-2 cups
Vegetables
2-3.5 cups
Grains
5-9 ounces
Dairy
3 cups
Ages
9 to 13
Calories
1,400-2,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
4-6 ounces
Fruits
1.5-2 cups
Vegetables
1.5-3 cups
Grains
5-7 ounces
Dairy
2.5-3 cups
Ages
14 to 18
Calories
2,000-3,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
5.5-7 ounces
Fruits
2-2.5 cups
Vegetables
2.5-4 cups
Grains
6-10 ounces
Dairy
3 cups
Ages
14 to 18
Calories
1,800-2,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein
5-6.5 ounces
Fruits
1.5-2 cups
Vegetables
2.5-3 cups
Grains
6-8 ounces
Dairy
3 cups