Learning to sleep-train your baby
Sleep training is the process of teaching your baby how to fall asleep and stay asleep at bedtime. As they grow, your goal is to have them fall asleep with your touch, your voice, or your soothing. A good time to start is when they are around 4 to 6 months old. Another good indicator is noticing if they wake up less and less each night for food. As babies grow they are able to regulate their own sleep-wake cycles more independently and are able to sleep for longer periods at night. Sleeping at this age is considered a skill believe it or not. Every baby will be different and some might not be ready for sleep training at this age whereas some may start earlier.
The “Cry-It-Out” approach is when the baby is left alone crying in their crib. This method is particularly hard on parents because it is almost heartbreaking to hear your own child screaming and crying. Checking that all their other needs are met like a clean diaper, a cooled room temperature, and that they are fed, allowing the child to cry will help them to disassociate you being totally present with them knowing that it is time to sleep. Some parents found that if the crying prolonged they would go back into their child’s room briefly to reassure them of safety but would not speak to them or pick them up. They are learning to self-soothe which sound pretty harsh for a baby but they will eventually be able to drift to sleep and the crying will decrease as the technique is practiced over time.
The "No Tears" technique is an alternative and much quieter method to sleep train a baby. Parents are directed to put their babies down at their scheduled time but not to leave the room just yet. They sit close to the crib and soothe the baby whenever they begin to cry until the baby drifts to sleep. As time goes on they slowly move themselves further away from the crib to create a detachment within them and their child. This process is more gradual and would take more time than the previously stated cry-it-out method. It can also be done by just staying near the crib, patting the baby to soothe them if they become fussy. As time progresses, limiting the soothing aspect will teach the baby to calm themselves down.
There are many parents that indeed develop their own methods of training their babies because each family will be different. No matter which method you opt to use, you should maintain a normal habit and routine. The easiest way to get back to your personal normal sleeping pattern is to ensure that your baby has one as well.