So You Want to Avoid Sleep Training… 

Early on in your parenting journey, one of the most common topics you will end up discussing is sleep and the “need” for sleep training. This topic often has a negative connotation associated with it. Many people assume that to sleep train is to force your baby to sleep or cry it out alone until they learn how to sleep on their own. In reality, the need to sleep train can be completely avoided if you establish healthy sleep habits from the beginning. Following a baby’s lead and watching for sleep cues can help you establish a natural routine and structure for both of your days. As your baby grows and meets various milestones, their pattern will naturally change. Life isn’t the same each day, so we cannot have unrealistic expectations that the baby will sleep at the same time, for the exact duration of each day. Establishing structure does not mean you have to enforce a rigid schedule, as this can set you up for an unsuccessful path in the future. 

Sleep training tips and tricks below.

Travel, daylight savings, parties, events, visitors, etc.., are all common examples of variables to our normal daily routine. I would like to provide you with 4 tips that you as a caregiver, whether you are a parent, grandparent, doula, NCS or nanny, can use to be prepared to navigate your day and easily adapt to any abnormal occurrences, while helping your baby and self have an adequate amount of rest. 

  1. Feeding 

The amount of food that your baby consumes plays a major role in their being able to sleep comfortably. Nobody likes to fall asleep hungry. As your baby grows and ages, they will consume more fluid ounces of breastmilk or formula. Eventually, they will begin adding solids to their diet and slowly weaning at their pace. Babies who consume breastmilk exclusively will metabolize their calories faster than a formula fed baby. Breastmilk, when directly consumed from the caregivers chest, changes in composition in response to cues in the baby’s saliva for things such as antibodies to illness. But people often wonder, how a breastfed/chestfed baby is consuming enough calories? If they are gaining about 6-8 oz per week in the first 6 months or so of their lives, that is considered appropriate (but always check with your healthcare provider). For formula or breast/chest fed babies, it is easier to track the volume of consumption by using a bottle or measurement tool for feeding. This will make you aware of how many ounces or ml it takes for the baby to be satiated, and for what duration of time. As your baby gets older and grows bigger, they will need and want to consume more calories. Most babies will let you know when they are full, so it is not likely that you will overfeed them if you are watching their cues. 

  1. Swaddling 

Swaddling can be a very helpful tool in helping a baby control their moro reflexes, which can startle them and interrupt their sleep cycles. Babies who demonstrate signs of being able to roll over on their own should not continue to be swaddled. Some newborns are able to roll over around 4-8 weeks old or so, but this is usually temporary. A swaddle should be snug, not loose and not inhibit movement at the baby’s waist or hips. Swaddling mimics security they felt while in the womb, which is calming and reduces anxiety. Once the baby can roll over, moro reflexes are typically minimized, so I transition to a sleep sack or the Love to Dream 50/50; basically a wearable blanket. This keeps them warm and secure, but also safe, avoiding loose blankets in their sleep space.

  1. Maintaining healthy sleep habits considering various adaptations 

Creating a safe sleep environment is absolutely vital in any circumstance, and ensuring your baby is comfortable is also very important. It is imperative that caregivers and parents recognize and follow baby’s sleep cues, whether that is yawning, stretching, a whimper or time window based on their last feeding or waking. Putting the baby down at the same exact time each day is not necessary, as there will inevitably be variables that affect this. It is ideal to be home for naps or in their normal sleep environment, but this will not always be possible. 

As a Newborn Care Specialist and former Travel Nanny, I am always prepared to jet set at any time of day with an infant in tow, so I want to share a few ideas around this for when you cannot be at home. When the baby is a newborn, I use babywearing as a tool to allow them to sleep comfortably while we are on the go. Using a carrier that is properly adjusted to support the baby’s size and weight can allow your infant to feel 

the sway and movement you make, and have security and comfort. Baby will be close enough to hear your heartbeat and enjoy being snug against your body; they could potentially sleep for hours against you as a newborn/ young infant and that is perfectly fine. Babywearing has been shown to reduce crying, ease communication and reduce frustration with the baby, and allows you as the caregiver to be more in tune with and meet the baby’s needs. Babies who are worn spend more time in a passive state of alertness and experience other developmental benefits, one being the ability to self soothe and sleep comfortably when they feel tired.  Another sleeping alternative is a stroller with a large canopy and ability to recline as close to flat as possible, or has a bassinet attachment. Being outdoors for walks and in other environments can help the baby learn to put themselves to sleep in nearly any situation, while feeling secure that you are nearby to help them if needed. 

Of course, there is no replacement for the need to sleep in a quiet, darkened room, without interruption. However, I have found that being able to adapt and sleep in new environments has been essential in avoiding the need to sleep train later. Because of this, I have been able to take children to museums, theme parks, performances, sporting events, parties, numerous plane rides, etc. As infants they learned to sleep almost anywhere a baby could possibly go, and it has positively affected their abilities to sleep through the night. I would like to emphasize though that not every baby is the same, and may not react the same way in these various environments. You may need to alter your expectations based on the adaptations you think will work best for your baby if you are not able to be in a quiet, dark room for their scheduled nap or bed times.

  1. Being aware of Sleep Variables 

It is said that every baby is different, and as cliche as it may sound, it is very true. Each baby will experience something that may affect their sleep at one point or another. It is important that when this occurs, you continue to support them, but that you keep some 

boundaries. Any health concerns from a tongue/ cheek/ lip tie affecting feeding and gassiness, a cold or fever, or a developmental milestone can be a curveball in your baby’s normal sleep patterns. 

For example, your baby could get sick with a cold and they are having congestion and other struggles, but they typically sleep through the night in their own room. This is not the time that you want to start bringing them in your room, especially if they have been conditioned or trained to sleep in their own space. Boundaries! You can, and absolutely should, continue to care for them, but in their room. At this point, extra cuddles are certainly warranted and perhaps necessary too. Set up a pallet in their room and be the

supportive and loving caregiver they need, but try not use this as a time to potentially set yourself up for long term changes you really want to avoid. 

There will be days when the baby simply doesn’t sleep as well. We are humans, not robots. So many variables can affect each of our days as adults and cause us not to sleep well one night or another. The same applies for the tiniest humans; be understanding and give grace. One, two, or even three inconsistent days doesn’t mean that you have ruined your baby. 

So, as you look at this whole topic, ask yourself: What goals do you have for your baby’s sleep? Are your choices or inconsistencies inhibiting you both from achieving those goals? What changes can you make that can positively affect your baby’s sleep during the day and at night? Best suggestion I have heard?  Set your baby up for a positive relationship with sleep from the birth.... Healthy sleep conditioning helps to avoid sleep training down the road.

Q Beene is a Cache Certified and Elite Newborn Care Specialist, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Holistic Sleep Consultant, Certified Babywearing Consultant and former Nanny of over 10 years. Her home is in the Charlotte area, though she really doesn't spend much time there. Q uses her trainings,  skills, and many talents to service clients through her business,  Southern Anchor Newborn Care. Throughout her career, she has assisted with high needs and immunocompromised infants, and specializes in working within fully staffed, High Net Worth and High Profile residences. When she is not busy taking care of babies or educating caregivers, Q is typically working on completing more trainings, or traveling for leisure.
 

Q Beene
laquisa.beene@gmail.com
https://www.newborncaresolutions.com
Additional Articles by Q Beene: https://newborncaresolutions.com/author/q-beene/

Related Posts
Why I Chose Elite

The weekend of October 26-27th, 2019 I participated in the Live Foundational Training with Newborn Care Solutions at the White House Nannies office in DC. I was blown away by […]

Read More
Can I Be a Good Newborn Care Specialist or Doula If I Do Not Have Children of My Own?

One of the questions I see often, from students is this:  Can I be a good newborn care specialist or doula if I do not have children of my own? […]

Read More
How to Make More Money Without Asking For More Money: The Newborn Care Specialist Edition

We see many topics about asking for a raise and increasing your prices. Did you know that there are ways you can make more money as a Newborn Care Specialist […]

Read More

More than just training

More skills, More babies, more money.
View All Training

Follow @newborncaresolutions

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins
There has been a problem with your Instagram Feed.
Join Us
Sign up to our newsletter and get amazing freebies

Newborn Care Solutions logo
Our company is dedicated to providing the very best quality products and service. Happy customers are our number one goal! We strive to be the best in the industry and innovate our products to meet the ever-changing industry needs.
© 2021 Newborn Care Solutions. All rights reserved | Made by a Peanut. 
magnifiercrosschevron-down