It is common for babies to cry at bedtime. Crying is the child's response to settling down before they sleep and part of their early learning. The good thing is babies can be trained to fall asleep on their own.
How should a baby sleep? It's recommended that you share a room with your baby until they are one year old. Room sharing is a good way to make sure you can comfort, feed, and monitor your baby through the night. You should never sleep with your baby in your bed to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Place your baby’s crib, bassinet, or play yard in your bedroom, not in a separate room.
An infant of up to three months old should sleep 14 to 17 hours a day. But they may not sleep for that long continuously. Normally your baby should take two or three naps during the day and then sleep for a longer period at night. Here’s how to create a safe environment for your baby to sleep:
- Prepare a firm sleeping surface. Always make sure that the sheets fit well, and you have a crib or bassinet built to safety standards.
- Never put your baby to sleep on their stomach or side. You should only place a baby on their back while sleeping to prevent SIDS.
- Avoid overheating. Never put too much clothing on your child while putting them to sleep.
- Keep other objects away from the crib or bassinet. You should never let your baby sleep with toys, quilts, sheepskins, blankets, comforters, unfitted sheets, or bumper pads.
- Let your baby sleep with their pacifier. If it falls out do not try to put it back in their mouth.
- Avoid smoking near your baby. Secondhand smoke may increase the risk of death in children, especially when they are sleeping.
- Avoid dangerous items in your baby’s crib: Always watch out for items like chords or sharp objects that your baby may hurt themselves with.
There are different methods you can use to train your baby to sleep in. Babies are usually capable of sleeping through the night when they get to the sleep training age, which is four months or older.
Babies do not have regular sleeping patterns until they are four months old. It is recommended that you don’t begin sleep training your baby until they are over that age.
Below are methods you can use to train your baby to sleep on their own:
- “Cry it out” method: In this method, you leave your baby in their crib, and when they cry at night, go check on them, but wait longer and longer each time they wake up before checking on them. This helps your baby learn how to go back to sleep by themself when they wake up in the middle of the night.
- “No tears” method: In this method, you sit next to the baby’s crib while they sleep. Then you move the chair further away from the crib each time until the baby falls asleep without crying.
- Bedtime fading method: This method involves shifting your baby’s bedtime later 10 to 15 minutes each night so they are tired at bedtime. When your baby falls asleep just after you put them down, that time becomes their new bedtime.
What if sleep training does not work? You should try different sleep training methods for at least two weeks before concluding that it has failed. If sleep training does not work you can take a break and try again later. After that fails you should talk with a pediatrician or a professional sleep consultant to find a solution.
Don’t be afraid to let your baby cry. Listening to your baby cry and choosing not to respond is a hard thing to do. As bad as it may feel, you are not hurting your baby and it will not affect the bond you have.
Don’t expect your child to sleep through the night just because you sleep trained them. Nobody stays asleep the whole night. You are always making movements in bed and sometimes you are awake. Children are no different. The goal of sleep training is to train your baby to put themself back to sleep when they wake up at night.