A Word of Caution : Before attempting to do any form of sleep training for your baby, please ensure that you have researched on the topic and understand the steps involved, thoroughly. Sleep training is NOT  about leaving your baby to cry endlessly and leaving you feel helpless.



1. Timing is everything

There is often a flurry of events after welcoming your new baby back from the hospital and it is tempting to get your baby to “sleep through the night” or to take naps in her own crib or you are finally too exhausted to nurse your 18 month old every 2 hours at night.

Before you decide to embark on a sleep training journey with your baby, do consider the Past, the Present and the Future.

~ The Past – Is there any medical history, health or behavioural issues which you need to consider before selecting a sleep training method? (eg: reflux, colic, vomiting, acute separation anxiety etc). If necessary, get the green light from your paediatrician to proceed.

~ The Present – Is your baby developmentally ready to become an independent sleeper?

Sleep training can likely only take place effectively from 3.5 to 4 months old onwards. Before that, biologically, the baby’s body clock (circadian rhythm) may not be developed and physically, she may not unable to self soothe. After 3.5 months to 4 months, your baby may have better control of her reflexes and will be able to bring her fingers or fist to her mouth to comfort suck. Before that, she will need your assistance for comfort to go to sleep and stay asleep.

~ The Future – Is your family’s schedule cleared for the next 2 to 3 weeks to focus on sleep training?

Ideally, choose a time when there are no major holidays, vacation plans, vaccinations, or changes to the family dynamics or environment. The family should be ready to forego social commitments during the Sleep Training period to ensure baby is on an appropriate schedule.



2. Maintain a Sleep Log


Usually from 3 months onwards, your baby will start to show predictable sleep patterns (hopefully!). When the baby is comfortably on 4 naps, you can start to keep a sleep log to track her wake times and nap lengths. With a sleep log, you will be able to spot your baby’s nap trends easily. Understanding the importance of the optimal wake times (scheduling) can make or break your sleep training efforts. If you are able to put your baby down at the appropriate time, there should be minimal crying and a higher chance of success!

Click here for your free Sleep Log templates.



3. Understand your child’s sleepy cues

Definition of a Cue ~ a thing said or done that serves as a signal to another to take action.

Besides watching the clock, we also have to watch our child’s cues to signal to us to prepare for sleep.

There are 3 types of sleepy cues – EARLY. MID and LATE cues. Every baby may display unique cues and some babies’ early cues are other’s late cues. Parents also need to plan what to do once these cues have been spotted.

Managing Cues for Infants & Toddlers

4. Create a sleep-friendly environment

The baby’s sleep environment is often a hot topic for discussion. Some common viewpoints include, “Baby should be able to sleep anywhere!”, or “If the room is too dark or quiet, baby may be scared”.

Here are some areas to notch up your sleep training game before you start –

~ Blackout Curtains/ Blinds: Ensure that there are blackout curtains in the baby’s room. There should be very minimal light leaks from all sides and at least 90% blackout. If there are indicator lights from the devices or appliances in the room, make sure you put a tape over them or else they will seem like great shiny beacons in the dark.

~ Cot and Room Safety: Babies are known to be imbued with new superheroes powers overnight, like flipping, tummy sleeping or standing. Therefore it is critical to ensure that the crib is bare, with a firm mattress (sans pillows, positioners, bolsters, blankets and an army of plushies). If the room gets cold, keep your baby cosy in a sleep bag.

~ Camera with playback: Here’s every parent’s chance to play James Bond and spy on your sweet baby while she is snoozing. Having a good camera in the room will help to keep track of what’s going on and of course to note the timings of the naps and the quality of night sleep.

~ White Noise & Night Light: These extra touches are good-to-have to ramp up your success rate. You can consider a white noise machine or simply a simple melody on repeat. Ideally there should not be any words or singing, or your toddler may decide to have an impromptu sing-a-long session at 5am. Choose a dim night light that is bright enough for you to see what you are doing (barely) but not bright enough for you to read.



5. Choose a sustainable Sleep Training method

Sleep training your baby or your child may be a lengthy affair, which requires utmost consistency, especially if  you decide to go with the “gentle/less tears methods” route. If you do choose a gentle method, like a variation of the Chair Method or the Pick Up, Put Down Method, do make sure you have some endurance left in your tank to see through these methods. It may be easier to wrestle with your baby during the day but less so at 4am in the morning and so much easier to succumb to the old ways. Rope in your partner to do “shifts” if necessary.



6. Have a back-up plan

We are parents, and the last thing you want to feel is to be riddled with guilt as your baby simply won’t stop crying and go to sleep. If you are doing Cry-It-Out (CIO/Extinction), plan a cap for the crying and assist if necessary so that your baby will not get overtired at bedtime. Give yourself a time frame to attain your sleep goals and if all go south, just regroup, take the experience and try again at a later date. It will also help to manage your expectations, especially if your baby is under 6 months of age as they are still so little.

The bottom line is that Sleep Training is not for the faint-hearted but as parents, you are helping your little ones to attain a life skill of independence sleeping and self-soothe. At the same time, you can get preserve your sanity and have more wine. During sleep training, be kind to yourself, and remember, there’s always tomorrow to fix today’s sleep schedule.

We Can Help You Today

At SleepKraft, we apply sleep methods and scheduling advice that is unique to your baby and your family. If you are struggling to improve your baby and your family's sleep, chat with us today so that we can offer the best possible sleep solutions.