Sleep training your children, whether they be newborns or toddlers, is really important – and not only for them, but for you too! Of course your schedule will vary depending almost entirely on the age of your child – and some of you may have come up with your own schedules, where others might be using guidelines and rough timetables from books or websites – but ultimately, the most important thing to remember throughout any stage of sleep training is to stay consistent!
But (and this is a relatively big but) this is not fool proof, in fact far from it! As some of you may have experienced already, while these cues might be really helpful in some ways, once your baby has a handle on where you’re headed, they can now put up a considerable fight when you walk into THAT room, and turn the lights down! Welcome into your life a whole new level of totally deliberate shrieks and cries in anticipation of dreaded sleep time! However, our good friend consistency is back to save the day! Once again, consistency is going to be your trump card, although for different reasons this time. Your baby now gets when you’re building up to nap time, and might well want to fight you on this, but this time consistency is going to teach your little red-faced angel a new lesson – that you are the boss. You really are, and the sooner you embrace that fact and own it, the better things will be. If your child senses on you that you’ll cave if they cry enough, I promise you they’ll find it in them to keep crying until you do. But you must stay strong! Stay calm and keep a soft, warm and loving tone to your voice so there is no confusion to your child about your motives, but make it clear that when you say now, you mean now. This is not a matter of negotiation, this is your territory and you need to make that clear. It will inevitably be harder to start with, but if you can get your partner/friend/family member to help support you in staying totally consistent through the initial stages of a new routine and bear some of the brunt, then your little one will soon get the message.
Having mastered the art of consistency, I promise your sleep time will improve! Good luck!
Consistency is pretty much the numero uno rule in parenting in general! And yet, it is often left by the wayside when it comes to implementation of any new routine, but it is such a crucial factor! The younger a child is, the less they understand – obvious I know, but bear with me. On this premise, the younger a child is, the more routine they need because although they might not understand the things happening around them, at the very least they are more able to anticipate them.
A newborn baby’s world is constantly changing. Every time you turn them around and they have a new visual, it’s like starting again for them and this can be rather a stressful business (with age, this happens less of course)! This is why a consistent routine is key. Sleep is about being calm and relaxed, so it goes without saying that a stressed out baby might struggle at bedtime. Routine offers cues, on so many different levels, about what is going to happen next. Tone of voice, lighting, sound and smell all play a part in offering some hints to your child about the next move and so with sleep in particular, this is particularly helpful. Once you have a daily timetable in place and you know when your baby should be sleeping, you can build in some routine to support that action plan. Think bottles, music, bath time, dark rooms, prams etc. Putting a system in place with any/all of these things (or anything else) will help you establish a clear signal to your baby/toddler about when it is time to sleep. Furthermore lots of these cues are calming activities in themselves, so will be putting your child in the right state of mind to fall asleep (it’s not often that trampolining makes it into a sleep training routine)!