Sleep training is widely discussed amongst parents, carers and nannies and can often be a daunting but necessary consideration. However, as with anything child-related, there are no definitive guidelines and, instead, a range strategies to choose from that require patience and consistency. Deciding which strategy works for you, the family and the baby is a personal choice and will depend on many factors. Make sure you are ready to commit to whatever you decide and stick at it.
The first thing to remember when beginning on this journey is that babies love routine. Whilst you may think that this only applies to bedtime, this can also make a huge difference to how a baby sleeps during the day. Whatever you decide, go through the same steps every time: tell the baby that it is time for a sleep, change their nappy, cuddle them and then put them in their sleep bag and calmly walk out of the room. A baby will begin to recognise the signs and will hopefully enjoy this routine, shut their eyes and be dreaming in no time…fingers crossed.
Early routine and self-soothing..
From a very early age, helping your charge to self-soothe is extremely important. Whilst young babies need lots of cuddles and physical contact to help them to feel secure, putting them down in a basinet or Moses basket when they are tired will help them to self soothe. Some little ones may need more reassurance; others may learn to be content with sucking their thumb, their bottom lip or their dummy in their quest for a peaceful sleep.
Pick up - put down..
This strategy requires time and patience. When a baby starts to cry, the advice is that you go into the room, pick up the baby and calm them. Once settled, they should then be placed back in their cot and you should leave the room. At the beginning, this will need to be repeated frequently to ensure that the baby knows that you are there and begins to fall asleep in between cuddles. After a few nights the baby will spot the signs, feel secure and fall asleep independently.
Controlled crying is sometimes seen as controversial as it requires you to leave the baby crying for a period of time. Following the usual bedtime routine, the baby should be put to bed awake in the hope that they fall asleep for themselves. If the baby cries, the adult should go back in, soothe, put them back in their cot awake and leave. For some, the difficult part is leaving the baby for progressively longer periods of time in between each cry. The aim is that the baby will eventually fall asleep for themselves and the gaps will reduce quickly over the first few nights of this routine.
Sleep training can be a difficult period of time so discuss this carefully with the family and decide which method to pursue. There are many more strategies out there to consider but do what works for you and your charge. Good luck!