Dr. Marc Weissbluth, a pediatrician from Northwestern Children’s Practice and member of Children’s Community Physicians Association, is one of the premier researchers in the field of children’s sleep studies. In our four-part series, Dr. Weissbluth shares his expertise to make sure both you and your child can get some sleep at night.
Nighttime can be the trickiest part of the day for new parents. Nights full of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep seem like a thing of the past, and at times it feels like there is no end in sight. Help is on the horizon, and by following these four sleep training steps, both you and your baby will make it through the night refreshed and rejuvenated.
Step One: Start Early
One of Dr. Weissbluth’s biggest tips is to start sleep training as early as possible. Early training will benefit both the parent and the baby. “Start early, the day you come home from the hospital,” Dr. Weissbluth says. “The earlier you start habits the easier it is for your baby to learn them.”
Step Two: Many Naps per Day
Although it may seem counter-intuitive at first, naps are essential to the sleep training process. “Many naps per day help avoid the over-tired state and allows your child to sleep better,” Dr. Weissbluth says. “The normal development of circadian nap rhythms is that you see a morning nap around 9 a.m., then a mid-day nap anywhere from 12-2 p.m. (for children under nine-months), followed by a third late-day nap that disappears after nine months of age.”
Step Three: Many Hands
To avoid the baby becoming dependent on one person, the mother should not be the only person putting the baby to sleep. Bedtime should be a family affair, with multiple members assisting. “You want dad, grandparents, aunt and uncle etc., as many people as possible to put the baby to sleep,” Weissbluth says. “This way the child won’t be dependent on the mother for sleep.”
Step Four: Finding a Middle-ground
The last and arguably most important step is putting your baby down when they are tired, but not too tired. “Put the child down drowsy but awake,” Weissbluth says. “With this the baby isn’t always in a deep sleep when you put them down for a nap and the child learns to fall asleep unassisted.”
Follow these four sleep-training steps and both you and your baby will make it through the night, making bedtime a restful one for everyone.
For more information, pick up Dr. Weissbluth’s latest book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, 4th Edition: A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night’s Sleep.” The book features the latest and most up-to-date research regarding everything related to this problem, and many more.