Really good question.
Once you have achieved success from sticking consistently to a few weeks of your sleep training programme, you’re ready for the next step.
THE NEXT STEP
To the parent who has already gone through the training:
You would know by now how the routine works and how it is likely to evolve as baby grows. Her awake times will become longer and longer, she’ll require more and more calories and her feeding times will be spread out further and further until they eventually start resembling our meal times.
You will also know at this stage that as long as you continue with the respective age-appropriate sleep programme at least 80% of the time, you can afford to be a little flexible with nap times, etc.
To the parent who hasn’t yet embarked on a sleep training programme:
Hi there, and welcome!
If you’re reading this blog you are considering sleep training your baby or child. You’re probably feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious, frazzled, etc. I can imagine you are probably a bit (or a lot) desperate to get your little one to sleep – both for their sake AND your sake.
You no doubt have many questions and require a heap of assurances. I have written numerous blogs on all aspects of sleep training and what is required. I suggest you check them out on my website – especially the ones entitled: ‘How to Navigate a Newborn’ and ‘Sleep Training: Where do I start?’. However, I’ll bet they will ALL interest you at this stage. (You are also very welcome to contact me for a free 15-minute call to answer any questions you might have.)
But, for the moment, you are wondering what your life will look like after you’ve completed a few weeks of ‘sleep training’.
Once the training is finished, baby should be happily falling asleep independently and sleeping through the night (according to her age-appropriate sleep requirements) and taking several happy naps a day (also – depending on her requirements).
Baby’s day-time needs are met by being arranged around several series of the ‘wake – eat – play – sleep’ cycles. The age of baby determines how long the appropriate sleeps are as well as the amount of calories required. By keeping baby in this daytime cycle she will benefit enormously from it. It will also make sure baby is appropriately sleepy for her next nap or night time sleep.
To give you an idea how baby’s needs will change as she grows, below is the difference between an 8 week old schedule and a 12 week old schedule.
Sample Daytime Schedule – 8 weeks old
7am – Wake for the day, feed in a well lit room to signal the difference between waking overnight and starting the day; then it’s playtime.
8:15am – Nap #1 in the crib
10am – Wake from nap #1; feed and then play and cuddle
11:30am – Nap #2
12pm – Wake from nap #2; feed and then tummy-time practise
1pm – Feed then down for nap #3 – remember to lay down drowsy but awake
4pm – Wake from nap #3; feed then play
5:15pm – Nap #4
6pm – Wake from nap #4; then play
6:45pm – Kick-off the bedtime routine then a full feeding before sleep
7:15pm – Bedtime for the night in a dark, quiet and safe place.
Sample Daytime Schedule – 12 weeks old
7am – Wake for the day, feed in a well-lit room to signal the difference between waking overnight and starting the day, then it’s playtime.
8:30am – Nap #1 in the crib
10:30am – Wake from nap #1; feed and then play and cuddle
12pm – Nap #2
1:30pm – Wake from nap #2; feed and then tummy-time practise
3pm – Nap #3; feed and then play
5:15pm – Nap #3
5:45pm – Wake from nap #3; then play
6:30pm – Kick off the bedtime routine then a full feeding before sleep
7pm – Bedtime for the night in a dark, quiet and safe place.
How long should baby be awake between naps?
Newborns (birth to 8 weeks):
45 minutes to 1 hour
8 weeks – 3 months:
1 hour to 1 hour 45 minutes
3 months – 5 months:
90 minutes to 2 hours
6 month -: 7 months:
2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours
8 months – 12 months:
3 hours – 4 hours
13 months – 18 months:
4.5 to 5.5 hours
19 months – 3 years:
So you see, baby’s needs change pretty quickly. They grow so incredibly fast. It’s remarkable.
I’ve given you an idea of what happens once sleep training is over. It is essentially a similar routine, but with longer waking hours.
But, I know what question you’re dying to ask me…..
Client: Once we have done a few weeks of sleep training and my baby is established in her routine, can we go back to ‘normal’?
Alison: Please define ‘normal’?
Client: Ummm… going back to what the adults want to do.
Alison: Unfortunately not. It might be a tough pill to swallow but there’s no way to pussy-foot your way around this one:
Your little person needs a different schedule from you. It’s just a matter of learning to build your schedule around that.
The thing is, I am a reputable and experienced sleep consultant who knows this and will take all aspects of your life and your family’s life into consideration. A good consultant knows and understands that we ALL have needs. All these needs will be factored into your unique programme.
Remember the goal here: We want to get baby sleeping properly – and to continue to do so – so he is well rested and can be healthy and he can grow up fit and strong – physically and mentally. He needs to do this in the RIGHT family environment.
The RIGHT family environment
When I say environment I don’t only mean his room, his cot, the darkness of the room, etc. I also mean the environment that comes directly from the general atmosphere of the home. If the carers of the child are unhappy, then the household is unhappy. No one thrives in a stressful environment where there is angst. Therefore it is to baby’s benefit that the people who live in his home are also balanced, rested and content.
Your sleep consultant should encourage ‘me time’ for the parents.
Not only is this essential, it is, in fact, the very best part. You can go and enjoy your own activities knowing you have a contented baby.
The best way to dive into putting one’s mind at ease regarding this subject is to give you one of my favourite testimonies from one of my clients:
“I can’t believe how our lives have changed. In just a few days of sleep training, we feel like we have our lives back! We have so many hours for ourselves in the evening now. For fun we added all these hours up and it equates to 14 days a year of ‘us’ time. This is what our financial investment equates to directly. It is like buying a two-week holiday!”
I can’t put it much better than that!
Parents are so determined to get on with their adult lives that they tend to treat their child like an adult. They drag them along wherever they go. “This is what I want to do therefore my child must do it too.”
A child needs A LOT of sleep. Many parents take advantage of this by getting baby to sleep in the car while they’re driving around. What I like to say is that sleep on the go is much like junk food. It does the trick but it’s not the best, most restful, good quality sleep. What’s more – it will come back to bite you when baby has only been taught to sleep in the car, or in her buggy.
If you are so worried about losing your ‘freedom’ as an adult, then what on earth are you waiting for? Quickly! The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start living again!
Many people believe that sleep training means you can’t go on holiday.
It means you can’t have a staycation!
It means you can’t go out when it’s baby’s nap time.
Absolutely you can! As long as the nap is at home 80% of the time.
And the very best part: the parents get lots of time at night to sleep and relax and socialise because baby will be sleeping!
The sleep training programme is now over. BUT. In order to keep baby sleeping beautifully, she will need to continue with these wonderful sleep habits for at least 80-90% of the time.
If you are still nervous about starting a sleep programme because you’re worried about the routine being like a noose around your neck. I suggest you read my blog entitled: ‘Sleep Training: Pros and Cons’. It will really help you wrap your head around all things ‘sleep training’ and I’ll bet it will encourage you to continue.
Please remember I am available to answer any of your questions.
And another thing… I am not a sleep consultant because it doesn’t work, I do it because it is absolutely life-changing!