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Restful Nights Ahead: Guide to Sleep Training

Friday, June 24, 2016 8:06 AM

Most babies do not sleep through the night at a very young age. And, for a perpetually overtired parent, getting to the point where your child does sleep through the night on his or her own can be a long, stressful process. Depending on your parenting style, it’s also a process that can be heavily debated.


A recent study out by researchers in Australia found that letting a baby “cry it out (CIO)” to sleep may not cause any emotional or behavioral issues.

This is likely good news for parents considering a CIO method to sleep train their infant. But, how do you know which method is best? And, where do you start? NorthShore Pediatrician, Dr. Lindsay Uzunlar shares her insight and tips about sleep training:

  • Do what works (and feels) best for you and your baby. There are many different sleep training methods out there, some that involve your child crying and others that don’t. Take some time to learn about the different methods. If you decide to sleep train your child, choose a method that feels right for you.
  • Be consistent. No matter whether your baby is napping in the afternoon or waking up at 3am, be sure to initiate the same sleep training method every time. This will help set the expectation for self soothing with both you and your baby.
  • Time it right. Most infants can be formally “sleep trained” starting at 4-6 months of age. Prior to starting any training method, be sure to discuss your plans with your pediatrician. When you decide to begin, be sure that your baby and you are ready. It’s best to choose a time when your child is not sick, teething or going through a developmental milestone.
  • Set the scene. The best way to start sleep training is to already have a good nighttime routine in place. Whether that routine involves bathing, singing, cuddling and/or reading, try to keep it consistent. This will help your infant learn the cues for sleeping. A dark room will also help baby get the hint.
  • Be safe. When it come to sleep, safety is just as important as a bedtime routine. Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back. Personal items such as blankets, stuffed animals and toys should be kept out of the crib. You’ll also want to be sure cords, curtains and other items are well out of baby’s reach.
  • Wait a moment. Try to get out of the habit of immediately entering your baby’s room every time he or she makes a noise, unless it’s necessary. Babies tend to move around when they sleep, and this added pause before entering the room might be enough for them to fall back asleep.
  • Give yourself a break. Sleep training can be exhausting and listening to your child cry is tough! Be consistent, calm and patient throughout the process. It may help to focus on the end goal: more restful nights for both you and your child. If you can, try not to stress out about the sleep training process. Also remember that you know your baby better than anyone, so trust your instincts!

When did your child first sleep through the night? What sleep training method worked best for you?