Sleep training begins when you bring your baby home from the hospital for the first time. During your child’s first months, it may seem more like you and your spouse are the ones being trained as you awaken night after night for midnight and 3 a.m. feedings; but, in fact, you are beginning to set the stage for the development of effective bedtime behaviors.
As your infant grows and is able to take in enough nourishment to supply his body for gradually-lengthening periods of time, the nighttime emphasis shifts from feeding to the establishment of bedtime routines that will ensure that your child receives an adequate amount of sleep every night. Your response to your child’s demands for assistance or attention at bedtime and through the night mold his behavior during his sleep hours.
Nightly repetition of the same parental response every time a child’s sleep is disturbed and he cries out at night forms a dependable pattern of predictable behavior, training your infant to respond to nighttime awakenings in a certain way. When baby sleep training is performed effectively, the parents’ nighttime responses teach the child to comfort himself if he awakens during the night and fall back asleep without his parents’ continued intervention.
This baby sleep training sets the stage for the development of lifelong sleep habits that become more firmly established during your child’s toddler years.
Next time: Two popular methods of toddler sleep training