Sleep Training your baby : tips and tricks !

- Categories : Baby Sleep

We better say it at the beginning: there is no magic recipe to make your baby sleep! On the web, there are hundreds of articles and blogs offering miracle solutions to get your little one to sleep. Indeed, there are many ways to get your baby to fall into Morpheus' arms but to see your kid fall asleep calmly in their bed, it is better to turn the question around! The important thing is not to make baby sleep but to teach them to sleep. So instead of asking how to make a child sleep, we need to understand how to sleep train your baby. By changing the question, we also change the correlation between the parents and their child's sleep. The objective is not to search for a magic formula (which does not exist) but to accompany your kid step by step towards successful sleep.

So how to create the necessary environment for sleep training your baby? You will see that the keywords are none other than love and regularity.

Putting baby to sleep: the importance of good timing

If you have to remember one thing about your baby’s sleep, this is the one. Look out for your child's sleep signals! As soon as they show signs of fatigue, it's time to go to sleep. When your little one starts to yawn, rubs their eyes, or feels a little cold, it's time to put them to bed. Of course, these signals are different for each kid and only you are able to identify them correctly. The important thing here is to put baby to bed exactly when the first sleep cycle is about to begin.

This routine will allow baby to associate what he feels with what he has to do! If you put him to bed too early, he will associate his bed with waking moments. Too late, he will associate sleep with factors other than what he feels. By putting baby to bed at the right time, you make sure that he gets enough sleep according to their needs, but you also train them to adopt a sleep rhythm consistent with their emotions.

WARNING: We all know that daily life with small kids can be unpredictable and that getting baby to sleep at the same time every night can be challenging. Illnesses, life changes (change of profession for example), can impact your baby’s bedtime. If this is exceptional, you should not see any changes in your child's sleep. But if this new rhythm lasts, the child may change and adapt to this new rhythm! Unpredictableness is a source of anxiety and children want at all costs to find coherence in the world around them. It is therefore important to return back to normal as soon as possible.

A bedtime ritual to help baby sleep

As you already know, the critical factor when sleep training your baby is regularity! For this nothing better than to set up a bedtime ritual.

This is an opportunity for you to spend a special moment with your child and express all your love for them. It’s a special moment for you. It’s up to you to choose and adapt the steps to follow before bedtime. We brush our teeth, we read a story or we sing a lullaby, Mom gives a kiss and says good night, then it's Dad's turn! Finally, make sure that your baby’s bed is the best place for their sleep. If your little one feels that you are confident about the quality of their sleep, they will only sleep better. On the contrary, babies sense parents’ stress or anxiety very easily. Babies aren’t afraid of the dark yet and with a nice ritual, there's no reason they won’t sleep calmly if you put them to bed at the right time.

The important thing here is that the ritual is always the same and above all, it has an end. When it ends, it's finally bedtime! If you indulge in a second lullaby or story, the ritual loses its effectiveness. It is the regularity of the steps that reassure your baby and allows them to sleep well. The ritual is not a magic formula to put him to sleep but a series of actions that will gradually teach your baby that it’s that time of the day, it's time to go to the land of dreams.

Watch out for the active sleep phase!

Before the first 12 months, babies cannot tell the difference between day and night. Their sleep is still very different from that of an adult! It is broken down into two very distinct parts: an active sleep phase (REM) and a quiet sleep phase (NREM). These are alternated throughout the night.

Unlike adults, babies do not fall asleep calmly. On the contrary, the baby almost always falls into the active sleep phase! He stretches, grunts, and cries a little. He may even turn red and have his eyes open. Yet, the baby does not ask for your attention, he is either falling asleep or still sleeping. A common mistake here is to take your baby out of the crib. This would only wake them up and interrupt their sleep cycle!

To avoid waking baby in his sleep, it is important to wait a few minutes and to observe if the baby shows signs of awakening. If they go back to sleep right away, they’re still sleeping. If their movements and cries intensify, your baby is wide awake and you can hold them in your arms!

Similarly, if your baby is tired and after putting him in his crib, he growls and moves his legs, there is a good chance that he is falling asleep. This sleep phase can be difficult to understand by adults as we fall asleep calmly all the time! But by avoiding waking your little one too often, you avoid interrupting his sleep and prevent future sleep disorders!

Sleep training your baby is also about taking naps

A baby who sleeps well at night is also a baby who takes the necessary naps during the day! Similarly to night sleep, it is necessary to identify the signs of sleep. For babies, a nap is to be expected two hours after waking up then another one just after lunch. This is the most important one because it is the one that will last the longest. The last nap your baby needs is around 5 p.m.

For toddlers, the idea is to spot the sleep signals during the day and offer them a nap every day at around the same time. It's all a matter of habit and regularity. If the toddler shows obvious signs of fatigue, no choice, they need a nap. If your little one doesn’t seem tired, offer them to make one anyway. If they refuse, do not force them to sleep but watch out for the slightest sign of fatigue. Napping should never be forced. In addition to associating the bed with punishment, a forced nap will tend to create problems when baby has to go to bed in the evening!

An environment conducive to sleep

Whether for naps or for the night, an environment conducive to sleep is essential for good sleep! The baby needs to feel safe. The sleep hormone melatonin tends to increase when the light drops. For naps, it is better to close the shutters. At night it is preferable to favor soft lights.

Similarly, your kid needs to be able to understand when it is time to sleep. By speaking less loudly, by slowing down the paste after a certain hour, you indirectly show your little one that it's soon time to go to bed. Children need consistency, they feel reassured by all these regular events in an environment full of love. When feeling safe, all the necessary conditions for a good night’s sleep are met. For instance, you can put on a piece of soft background music, and cuddle together to accompany the transition to bedtime.

To recap, here is a list of everything you need to put baby to sleep:

- Pay attention to sleep signals.. As soon as the baby is tired, it’s bedtime. Above all, don't wait! By putting your little one to bed at the right time, the baby will associate his fatigue with the need to sleep and be in bed. He will gain autonomy and will sleep better.

- The keyword is CONSISTENCY. Try to put your baby to sleep at the same time most of the time.

- Create a bedtime ritual. Having a ritual is all about consistency. By following the same steps every night, you are giving your child the greatest gift you can give them: love and a strong sense of security.

- Beware of active sleep! Before 1 year, babies tend to fall asleep growling and fussing. Even if they seem awake, they’re actually sleeping! Always wait a few minutes before holding up your baby to make sure you don’t wake them up.

- Try to create an environment conducive to sleep. By putting on a lullaby, and reducing the sound and the light level, you are letting your baby know that it is soon time to sleep. Finally, don't forget to close the shutters for naps during the day. This will help the baby better understand the day-night cycle.

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