Parents often ask me, when is the appropriate time to start sleep training my child? With all of the information on the internet and in books…it can be intimidating. Part 1 of Developing Healthy Sleep Habits discusses how to set your child up for success from the beginning.
Believe it or not, you can start with healthy sleep habits at birth! This is NOT formal sleep training, but you can set the stage during the early months to make the transition to sleep training even easier.
From birth to 2 months (from your child’s due date), keep your child well rested by doing whatever is necessary to help them sleep. Use the swing, rock your child, nurse/feed, or even go for a walk. Habits are not easily formed during this time, so you can transition away from these methods at a later time. During these two months day/night confusion is common, so make sure you are staying well rested too. Sleep when your baby sleeps and leave the dishes and laundry for later. This confusion will end around 8 weeks of age, so you’ll be able to sleep better at night soon. Hang in there!
Around 2 months of age you will notice a change in how your baby interacts with you. You will begin to see more social interaction, and reactions based on what you say and do. At this time, try to introduce a short routine before naps and bedtime. Your routine can include a bath, pajamas, stories, and nursing or bottle. Watch your child for signs of tiredness, and start the routine before they become overtired. Try to allow your child to fall asleep independently. You can do this by soothing your child during the routine and then when drowsiness sets in, place them in crib to fall asleep.
Part 2 of Developing Healthy Sleep Habits will focus on when to begin formal sleep training and how to stay calm during the process.