However, there are many things you can do to ease your sleep training process or to avoid it completely by developing certain routines, even before sleep training can take place, while your baby is younger than 4 months old:
- Early Bedtime: pick a time, between 5:30pm and 7:00pm, that you will consider bedtime. From that time on, keep you baby in the nursery, with the lights down, no noises, no playing, just soothing activities or sleeping. You want to teach your child the difference between day and night as soon as possible, and you want her to learn that night is a time to relax and sleep.
- Bedtime Routine: develop a consistent bedtime routine that involves soothing and calming activities. Remember to keep it short and to be consistent with it. Your baby will associate this routine leads to night time sleep.
- Drowsy but Awake: try to put your baby down on her crib when she’s drowsy but awake. Avoid letting her fall asleep in your arms or while nursing.
- No ‘External’ Soothers: try to keep the external input that your baby gets to fall asleep to a minimum. The goal is to help your baby learn to sleep on her own, and fall back asleep on her own if she wakes up in the middle of the night. So, try not to make her dependant on things/rituals she won’t be able to have without your help. Try to avoid mobiles, pacifiers, rocking, bouncing, bottle/breast… unless it’s bsolutely necessary.
- Know your Baby: keep a log of your baby’s feeding times, bowel movements, sleeping times and mood. The goal is for you to understand your baby’s biorythm, and to learn to identify your baby’s clues. This will be unvaluable information that you’ll use during the sleep training process.
- Consistent Schedule: This is a hard one, especially at the begining; but try to be somewhat consistent with your baby’s schedule, it’s particularly important to help her develop consistent waking time, bedtime and feeding times.
- Let your Baby Sleep: It sounds simple, but it usually isn’t so. Newborns need to sleep many hours a day, sometimes as much as 20. Do not feel obligated to have your baby awake because you have visitors, do not disturb your baby’s sleep because you have company, do not try to keep your baby awake so you can play with her a little longer. Babies need sleep to develop and grow properly, let it happen from the begining.
If you follow these routines from the begining, your sleep training process will much easier whenever it takes place.