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Settling a baby to unperturbed sleep is a challenge for parents. Most of the babies are ready for a healthy sleep routine around the first 3 to 4 months of their lives and can become independent sleepers by the age of 1 year. If your baby learns to sleep straight for a period of 6-8 hours or doesn’t need your presence to go back to sleep even if he wakes up in the middle of night, then it is a good sign of independent sleep. Let us explore how you can inculcate the habit of independent sleep in your baby.
A newborn baby needs his mother to be around all the time for a comforting sleep. However, by the time he is 3-4 months old, he is ready for sleep training. If he can learn to self – settle to sleep at this age, it is an indication of a healthy sleep schedule. We bring you useful tips to help your baby become an independent sleeper.
What is Independent Sleep?
Your baby is said to become an independent sleeper when he can take a sound sleep at least 6-8 hours during the night and can sleep without assistance of his parent after waking up abruptly.
When is the Right Time?
The earlier you start, better it is for your baby and you as well. However, a newborn often wakes up in the night when he is hungry and needs your undivided devotion. But when he becomes 3-4 months old, you can start sleep training. However, in case you are not comfortable letting your baby self – settle to sleep, if he doesn’t respond well to the routine or there has been some disruptive changes in your family, you may reconsider starting it when he is 6-8 months old.
Tips to Develop Independent Sleeping Habits
As long as you are rocking or singing your baby to sleep, he doesn’t feel the need to become an independent sleeper. But the day you feel comfortable to help your baby self–regulate his sleep routine, following tips shall be useful to you.
1. Set a Routine
It is important to set a sleep routine in your baby right from the beginning. Set aside time for giving bath to your baby, feeding him, playing with him, taking him out for strolls and putting him to bed. Follow this routine religiously to help your baby attain a good sleep pattern.
2. Provide a Suitable Sleep Environment
A comfortable, safe and quiet environment is very essential for your baby to enjoy a sound sleep. Make sure that this environment is consistent every time you put your baby to sleep, since little ones find it difficult to adjust to new changes.
3. Put Him to Bed Drowsy
Put your baby to bed as soon as he begins to feel drowsy rather than waiting for him to go into a deep slumber. This would help him to associate sleep with his bed, rather than your lap or touch, while going to sleep. If he wakes up in the night, he would seek his sleep association rather than you.
4. Stress Upon the Difference Between Day and Night
Keep your baby’s room quiet and dim during the night hours. Any obstacles that may disturb his sleep should be removed. In case, he gets up in the night, feed him if he needs a feed. However, refrain from interacting or playing with him as these activities would make him more active. Help him understand that nights are meant to sleep. However, to make your baby sleep more in the night, do not commit the mistake of keeping him awake in the day. A baby who has poorly slept in the day will get tired and will not be able to sleep in the night.
The above strategies are helpful in inculcating unaided sleep habit in your baby, but do not expect a miracle overnight. Babies take time to adopt a new routine, but being consistent and patient will make sure that they become independent sleepers over a period of time.