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When is the best time to start sleep training?

When is it best to start sleep training

“When is it the best time to start sleep training my baby?” is probably one of the most common questions I have heard over the years from new parents I worked with, family and friends. With so much misinformation on the Internet these days, it does not take long to feel confused and/or overwhelmed! I feel like that when it comes to nutrition. Even though it is a very dynamic field and more research is done, there is a lot of contradictory information that would drive anyone crazy, and social media does not help.

It is my soul’s desire to serve and help parents all over the world to remove the overwhelm and worry of their shoulders when it comes to baby sleep. There is a whole lot to deal with when you are a parent & I would love to make your lives easier in that area because, frankly, I do believe when you and your baby are rested, you can experience this parenting journey in a completely different way – from a centered, balanced and more harmonious place.

Today, I am happy to pour my heart out to offer you a better understanding of baby sleep & support so you may sail through the first weeks as smoothly as possible. Let’s enter the realm of sleep training once again, because with a holistic approach, you can navigate this journey gently and effectively, fostering healthy sleep habits that will benefit both you and your baby.

WHAT REALLY IS SLEEP TRAINING?

Sleep training is simply helping a baby learn to sleep well by brining together various components, such as: daytime schedule, sleep environment, bedtime routine and addressing night wakings, accompanied by a proper sleep training method. Because babies go through a lot of major developmental changes in the first months of their lives, it is recommended to wait with ‘proper’ sleep training. Until when? I will explain below.

NEWBORN SLEEP vs. INFANT SLEEP

✔️ SLEEP CYCLES

One of the very first reasons to hold off on sleep training are the differences in newborn and infant sleep. Newborns alternate between 2 sleep stages only – ACTIVE (REM) & QUIET (NON-REM) until they develop all 5 sleep stages between 4-6 months.

Newborn sleep cycles are shorter, typically lasting around 30 to 50 minutes. They spend a significant portion (50%) of their sleep time in REM (rapid eye movement, light sleep) sleep, which is essential for brain development.

By the time infants reach 3-4 months, their sleep cycles extend to approximately 90 minutes (same as adults). They still experience REM sleep, but the proportion decreases slightly compared to newborns by 3 months, and by 6 moths all distinct sleep stages develop.

✔️ NIGHT WAKINGS & FEEDINGS

Nighttime wakings are common in newborns due to their small stomachs and the need for frequent feedings. It’s normal for newborns to wake up every 2-3 hours to feed. As infants grow older and their stomachs can hold more milk, they may sleep for longer stretches at night without needing to feed. However, occasional night wakings may still occur due to growth spurts, teething, or other developmental milestones.

✔️ DAY & NIGHT CONFUSION

Newborns are not born with a set circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles in humans and their bodies do not produce cortisol nor melatonin until about 3 months. (They have never been exposed to light!). Instead, they have irregular and erratic sleep patterns and spend much of their time sleeping (14h-17h in 24h). Therefore, it will take a while (up to 6 weeks) for this day-night confusion to resolve. Some babies may have problems staying awake during the day, for some daylight may be too stimulating.

Understanding these key differences between newborn and infant sleep can assist parents and caregivers in providing appropriate support but also in managing their own expectations and let’s not forget: e v e r y child is different. The first few weeks might feel like survival which is often a shock to new parents because of the fact how romanticized having a newborn is by family, friends, strangers and especially social media while everyone should just make this experience their own, and that also concerns the dilemma of when it is the best time to start sleep training.

For the reasons above, it is best to hold off on sleep training until your baby is at least 4 months old which can be a lot smoother if parent decide on implementing proper sleep hygiene from the earliest days.

WHAT TO DO I DO BEFORE MY BABY TURNS 4 MONTHS?

Even though I wrote it lol, it is a great question I know many parents ask themselves. And, there is plenty you can do to gently navigate through these first weeks to establish a solid foundation for your little one’s healthy sleep habits which can make a significant difference in both your baby’s rest and your own well-being.

🌙 PRIORITIZE SAFE SLEEP PRACTICES:

Always place your baby on their back to sleep, on a firm and flat sleep surface, such as a crib or bassinet. Keep soft bedding, toys, and loose blankets out of the sleep area to reduce the risk of suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Avoid overheating your baby by dressing them in lightweight clothing and keeping the room temperature comfortable (68F-70F)

🌙 EMBRACE NEWBORN SLEEP PATTERNS:

Be prepared for frequent nighttime awakenings for feedings, as newborns have small stomachs and need to eat every few hours. If you bottle feed, take turns with your partner. If you exclusively breastfeed, have your partner help with burping and changing after the feeding.

Accept that your baby’s sleep patterns will gradually evolve and become more predictable as they grow older. IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE THIS HARD <3

🌙 ESTABLISH A CONSISTENT BEDTIME ROUTINE:

Create a soothing bedtime routine to signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Include calming activities such as a warm bath, gentle massage, lullabies, or reading a short bedtime story. Keeping the bedtime routine consistent each night will be very important to help your baby associate these cues with sleep.

🌙 ENCOURAGE DAYTIME WAKEFULNESS

– Expose your baby to natural daylight and engage in stimulating activities during the day to help regulate their circadian rhythm. Turn the TV on, carry on normal conversations.

– Limit long naps (2h+) to ensure that your baby gets enough feedings and is more likely to sleep longer stretches at night.

🌙 WAKE WINDOWS

Wake window is a period of time a baby can stake awake for. While newborn’s sleep is irregular and erratic, knowing how long can a baby stay awake may help parent create some daytime structure.

Newborn wake windows are about 35-60 minutes for babies 0-4 weeks and about 60-90 minutes for babies 4-12 weeks. Their total sleep requirement is 14h-17h. Daytime sleep should not exceed 5h-6h.

🌙 PRACTICE TIME OUTSIDE PARENTS ARMS

By that I mean, have moments throughout the day where your baby (0-2 months) can spent a few minutes, few times a day outside your arms. It can be supervised swing time, tummy time etc. You may attempt also to lay your baby down awake in their crib or bassinet when their are sleepy to give them a chance to practice being in their sleep space on their own, or maybe even falling asleep on their own. However, if you lay them down awake and they cry, pick them up and comfort them – things should be pretty lenient with a baby this young.

🌙 OBSERVE AND BE RESPONSIVE TO YOUR BABY’S CUES:

I know some parents may be freaked out by this and think “how the hell am I supposed to know their cues when they just arrived?!”. Welcoming a newborn is a huge adjustment period, but this baby chose you for their parents and you have ALL you need to take the best care of them. Trust me, it is there but the sleep deprivation and overwhelm are making it hard to tap into your inner truth.

– Pay attention to your baby’s signals of hunger, discomfort, or tiredness, and respond promptly – you will learn over time what those are. Here is my post on sleep cues in young babies that may be helpful:

– Offer comfort and reassurance during nighttime wake-ups without immediately resorting to feeding, especially if your baby has recently eaten.

🌙 TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF:

– Remember to prioritize your own sleep and nutrition. Enlist the help of your partner, family members, or friends to share nighttime responsibilities.

– Nap when your baby naps to catch up on sleep and recharge your energy levels. Take it s l o w l y – your body just want through something very major.

Below, I am sharing my free guide for parents who may have concerns or fears about sleep training their baby. It is my passion and mission to help parents bring the balance back to their families so their babies can thrive and they can enjoy this wonderful journey, which is why in this guide I put all sleep training stereotypes to sleep 😴

DOWNLOAD

Establishing healthy sleep habits with a newborn requires patience, consistency, and flexibility. While it may take time for your baby to settle into a predictable sleep routine, implementing these strategies can help lay the groundwork for better sleep patterns in the months ahead. I hope this article gave you a better understanding on when to start sleep training. By creating a nurturing sleep environment, following a consistent bedtime routine, and being responsive to your baby’s needs, you can promote healthy sleep habits that benefit both you and your little one. Remember, every baby is unique, so don’t hesitate to adapt these tips to suit your family’s needs and preferences. With time, you’ll find a rhythm that works for everyone, allowing you to enjoy those precious moments of rest and relaxation together.

To the balance your family deserves,

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Holistic Sleep Training: The Approach to Healthy Sleep Habits

Holistic Sleep Training

The journey into parenthood is filled with joy and wonder, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges—chief among them being the quest for a good night’s sleep. One term that frequently emerges in parenting discussions is “sleep training.” But what does it really mean, and how can a holistic approach revolutionize the way we perceive and implement sleep training for our little ones?

UNDERSTANDING SLEEP TRAINING

At its core, sleep training is simply a process of helping a baby to sleep well. While this concept might sound straightforward, there are various methods and philosophies that parents can adopt to achieve goal of independent sleep & sleeping through the night. The key is to find an approach that aligns with both the child’s needs and the family’s values, dynamics.

Sleep training is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it goes beyond the misconception that it only involves letting a baby cry it out (Ferber’s method).

Instead, it also encompasses a range of gentle and more intermediate methods designed to teach babies the essential skill of self-soothing. This process involves creating a consistent sleep routine, fostering a conducive sleep environment, and gradually encouraging the baby to fall asleep independently.

CREATING A HOLISTIC SLEEP ENVIRONMENT

A holistic approach to sleep training recognizes that a child’s well-being is influenced by a myriad of factors—physical, emotional, and environmental. Holistic sleep training takes into account the whole picture, considering not just how a baby falls asleep, but also the nutritional aspects, the baby’s temperament, and the family dynamics.

Creating a Holistic Sleep Environment:

1. Comfortable Sleep Space: Ensure the baby’s sleep space is safe and sleep-inducing, promoting a sense of security.

2. Nutritional Considerations: Address any potential feeding issues with your pediatrician and ensure the baby gets enough feedings during the day – baby being hungry at night is parents’ most common fear and often, a sleep training roadblock.

3. Establishing a Routine: Craft a consistent bedtime routine that includes calming activities, such as a reading a short book or gentle lullabies.

4. Addressing Crying: In the beginning stages of sleep training, fusing or tears are inevitable – children may simply protest the new change by doing so. It is important to create a plan to address the tears by choosing a sleep method that is right for your baby’s age, temperament and ok with your parenting style.

For parents who fear the stress and tears during sleep training, I have prepared this f r e e guide, based on scientific research and my multi-year experience to put those fear to rest, once and for all so you can empower your child with the gift of independent sleep!

Click here to download.

Cover of a free guide about tears and stress during sleep training

5. Daytime Schedule: Creating a daytime schedule with observing age-appropriate wake windows is crucial to avoid over tiredness and further sleep troubles down the road.

✨ HIRING A PEDIATRIC SLEEP CONSULTANT

For parents navigating the complexities of sleep training, hiring a pediatric sleep consultant can be a game-changer! I specialize in understanding the nuances of child sleep patterns and can offer personalized guidance tailored to the unique needs of each family. It is my goal to provide a structured plan, troubleshoot challenges, and empower parents with the knowledge and confidence to foster healthy sleep habits that will contribute to your child growth and wellness!

✨ For sleep suport options, c l i c k h e r e

✨ BRING THE BALANCE BACK TO YOUR FAMILY

Sleep training is a dynamic and evolving process that requires sensitivity, patience, and a holistic perspective. By understanding the diverse methods available, embracing a holistic approach parents can navigate the intricate terrain of sleep training with confidence. Remember, the goal is not just a good night’s sleep but the development of lifelong healthy sleep habits that contribute to the overall well-being of both parent and child.

To the balance your family deserves, Ola

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Pediatric Sleep Training: The ABCs of Baby Sleep

Pediatric Sleep Training: The ABCs of Newborn and Infant Sleep

The journey into parenthood is often a sleep-deprived adventure, filled with tender moments and the soft melodies of baby sleep. As new parents, understanding the nuances between newborn and infant sleep becomes crucial for creating a peaceful bedtime routine to optimize baby’s night sleep.

In this blog post, I will unravel the intricacies of baby sleep, exploring the differences between newborn sleep and infant sleep, while shedding light on the crucial role of pediatric sleep training in the pursuit of a good night’s rest.

Understanding Newborn Sleep:

1. Unpredictable Sleep Patterns:

Newborn sleep is erratic and unpredictable. With sleep cycles as short as 30-40 minutes, new parents often find themselves navigating a landscape of round-the-clock feedings and comforting.

2. Short Sleep Stages:

Newborns experience brief sleep stages, including both REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM sleep. Recognizing these stages becomes essential in responding to a baby’s sleepy cues effectively.

3. Night and Day Confusion:

Distinguishing between night and day can be a challenge for newborns, contributing to irregular sleep routines. Establishing a day-night rhythm early on is key to promoting healthier sleep habits.

Transitioning to Infant Sleep:

1. Consolidation of Sleep Patterns:

As infants grow, their sleep patterns tend to consolidate. Longer periods of nighttime sleep emerge, offering new parents a more predictable routine.

2. Introduction of Sleep Training:

Infant sleep often introduces the concept of sleep training. Techniques such as the Ferber method or gradual extinction may be explored to encourage self-soothing and establish consistent sleep habits.

3. Coping with Sleep Deprivation:

New parents often grapple with sleep deprivation, especially during the newborn phase. As infants transition to more predictable sleep patterns, the burden of sleep deprivation tends to ease, providing parents with much-needed relief.

The Role of Sleep Training:

1. Seeking Guidance from Pediatric Sleep Consultants:

Pediatric sleep consultants or sleep coaches, like myself are invaluable resources for new parents navigating the complexities of infant sleep. I offer personalized advice, addressing the unique needs of each baby while offering extended support throughout the process. Click SLEEP SUPPORT OPTIONS for more.

2. Tailoring Sleep Training to Individual Needs:

Understanding that every baby is unique, sleep training approaches should be tailored to match the temperament and preferences of the infant, but also the family dynamics and . Sleep training is multifaceted, therefore, one-size-for-all is simply not possible here.

3. What really is sleep training?

Sleep training is simply a process of helping a baby to sleep well. Large focus of sleep training are sleep training methods to improve child’s sleep. All of them boil down ultimately to one goal – teaching a baby independent sleep. Most methods can be divided into 2 approaches: to let the baby cry it out or, the ones I advocate, comfort a baby, within a reasonable amount of time, with the intention of letting them fall asleep on their own in the end. 

In the realm of baby sleep, deciphering the differences between newborn and infant sleep is a journey filled with discovery and challenges. As new parents navigate the sleep cycles, the introduction of sleep training, and the potential for sleep deprivation, seeking guidance from pediatric sleep consultants and adopting personalized sleep training approaches can pave the way for a more restful and harmonious sleep experience for both baby and parents.

I promise there is more light, and sleep!, at the end of this tunnel.

To the balance your family deserves,

Ola