Our babies can begin to learn habits after about 2 months of age. It is important to build good sleep habits in our children so that we do not have to break the unsustainable and undesirable habits.
When your baby is crying in the middle of the night everyone wants the baby to sleep. Parents and baby are tired. Out of desperation parents do anything which works in the moment to stop the crying and bring sleep to everyone. The next night and the next night, the same thing happens. A habit has begun. It takes about three days for a habit to begin to form. The problem then becomes how to get out of that cycle.
I work with new parents and teach them how to build good sleep habits as soon as their baby develops certain abilities. Recently I met with a family who followed the plan of my New Parent Package, helping their daughter build good sleep habits. At four months, when major sleep development happens in all babies, there was a very small learning curve for this little girl to learn the skill of getting herself to sleep. She is now sleeping eleven to twelve hours at night with one feeding and taking one to two hour naps each day.
There is another family who I had told how to build some good sleep habits, but they did not follow my advice. Instead they did each night what ever worked in the moment. Now, at four months, dad is sleeping in a chair with the little boy each night. It is not a safe solution for the baby or for the health of the dad. It is also not a maintainable situation. It is much tougher to break the bad sleep habits and now teach the little boy the skill of getting himself to sleep. It seemed easier to the parents in the middle of the night to go to those immediate, but unsustainable sleep solutions, however for the future healthy sleep patterns of their child, it made life much more difficult.
Try to ask yourself before you choose an approach if the solution to get your baby to sleep that you are using in the middle of the night is something you want to continue to do.
There is always hope, no matter what sleep situation parents might be struggling with. It is important to have a plan on how to discontinue the bad sleep habits and how to build healthy sleep practices. It takes about twenty-one days to build that new approach into a solid and healthy habit. Setting the foundation for healthy sleep will benefit the child for their lifetime.
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