“Baby Falls Asleep Alone! Parents Overjoyed!”
Okay, so maybe the general public wouldn’t consider that the most amazing news headline in the world, but I’ll bet that for all of you sleep-deprived parents out there who are working on sleep training (and that’s pretty much all of you 🙂 ), you would LOVE to apply that headline to your story.
Good news – you can. And we can help.
Why Does Your Baby or Toddler Need To Learn To Fall Asleep Alone?
To put it simply, your baby or toddler needs to learn to fall asleep alone so that he can eventually (when he is developmentally ready) sleep through the night. There is no magical age at which all babies can sleep through the night, of course – that is dependent on so many factors. But until your baby knows how to fall asleep alone, without your help, he will struggle to sleep through the night (or to take long, restorative naps, for that matter).
5 Steps To Help Your Baby or Toddler Learn To Fall Asleep Alone
It isn’t exactly a small thing to teach your baby a brand new skill like falling asleep without help. That’s why we try to break the process down into manageable steps for the families with whom we work. Obviously, we can’t give all of you a consultation in blog article form, but we can give you an overview of what the 5 step process to helping your baby or toddler fall asleep alone looks like.
So, without further ado…here it is!
- Identify your baby or toddler’s sleep associations. Does your baby or toddler need to be rocked to sleep? Fed to sleep? Held to sleep? These are your little one’s sleep associations. Sleep training is simply the process of changing your baby or toddler’s sleep associations. Once you know the sleep associations, you know what to focus on while you sleep train.
- Wean from the swaddle and/or pacifier (if applicable, and if necessary). If your baby is heavily dependent on being swaddled for sleep, you will want to work on weaning her away from the swaddle before you start working on sleep training. Check out this article on how and when to stop swaddling for tips on how to do that. If your baby or toddler needs a pacifier to sleep, you might want to try weaning from it. This is only necessary for babies and toddlers who have a really strong dependency on the pacifier, though, and whose pacifier use is interfering with sleep. If you decide to wean from the pacifier, browse this article on how to stop pacifier use for tips.
- Create a sleep routine. Bedtime routines, and pre-nap routines, are great for promoting sleep. If you don’t already have one, create a consistent pre-sleep routine. You can read this article for bedtime routine tips, and this article about common bedtime routine mistakes you will want to avoid.
- Create a sleep training plan. All your hard work has led up to this point – time to create your own, personal sleep plan! Decide which sleep training method you want to use (you can look at a ‘cheat sheet’ of common sleep training methods, or download our free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night here – both will give you the info you need to get started.) Next, decide how you want to approach sleep training. It is generally best to start with bedtime and then move to naps, although that’s not true in every case.
- Implement your plan with confidence and consistency for 2-4 weeks (depending on the method you choose). This is where the hard work comes in. Once you have your plan on paper, you need to implement it and then stick to it. We usually recommend that parents stick with a plan for at least a week (2 is better) before making any changes. Remember, your goal in sleep training is to teach your baby or toddler to fall asleep alone. This is a new skill for your little one – and new skills aren’t learned overnight! So stay consistent in your sleep training, and give your baby or toddler time to learn a new way to sleep.
Hey members – did you know you can download a workbook designed to help you create your very own Personalized Sleep Plan™? Log in and take a look!
Parents, if you follow these steps, you CAN teach your baby or toddler to fall asleep alone, without your help. And that will be the first step on the journey to rested nights and peaceful naps!