Many exhausted parents choose to sleep train their baby in the hopes of getting longer stretches of uninterrupted sleep. Here at Owlet, we prefer to use the term sleep learning when thinking about supporting your baby as they learn to self soothe and fall asleep independently. Sleep learning is a process by which parents help their baby learn to fall asleep independently by providing support through quick visits or check in’s with verbal reinforcement. Sleep learning should always work in conjunction with safe sleep practices. Whether your baby is room sharing with you or in their own bedroom, here are some tips to help you follow the ABC’s of safe sleep throughout the sleep learning process.
Thankfully, keeping a baby safe while sleeping is very simple. Parents and caregivers should always place their baby on their back in a fully empty crib, with no bumpers, blankets, toys, or sleep positioners present inside the crib. If your baby has learned to roll onto their tummy during sleep, it is considered safe as long as Baby is not swaddled. Therefore, stop swaddling your baby around 8-10 weeks of age, or as soon as they show signs of rolling.
To practice safe sleep, remember the ABCs of sleep –
Babies should always be put down alone on their back in their crib.
In addition to following the ABCs of safe sleep, we should also consider other aspects of the sleep environment. If using a camera for a video monitor, families should mount their cameras to the wall or to another piece of furniture. Never mount a camera on the ledge of the crib, as there is a risk the camera could accidentally fall into the crib and create a serious hazard to a curious baby. Remove any objects that might be in arm’s reach of your baby such as crib mobiles or toys. Keep your baby’s room dark for nighttime sleep, and also keep the temperature around 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit with good air circulation.
Many families don’t realize that “sleep training” (or sleep learning) essentially just means teaching their baby to go down alone and awake, flat on their back in a totally empty crib, from that state to asleep, without the assistance of a parent or caregiver. Humans wake regularly throughout the night as they transition from one sleep cycle to the next, so a baby waking every hour or two throughout the night is natural and normal. In order for a baby to connect sleep cycles without the assistance of a parent they must first know how to fall asleep wholly independently for naps and at bedtime. By following the basics of sleep safety, including a completely empty crib with a totally flat mattress, parents are promoting healthy sleep habits for children of all ages.
If you choose to do a sleep learning program for your baby, wait until the baby has had time to learn some self soothing behaviors. This normally happens by the time the baby is around 6 months of age. You can increase your baby’s self-soothing skills by giving them access to their hands from birth. Young babies will instinctively use their hands as they develop self soothing behaviors by sucking on their hand or touching their hands together for comfort. Self soothing naturally helps babies fall asleep independently, so we support healthy sleep practices from birth when we give our babies the tools to feel comfort.
A consistent bedtime routine is another important component of sleep learning that helps babies know what to expect as nighttime comes. A consistent bedtime routine coupled with a safe sleep environment reinforces healthy sleep habits. As you complete the steps of your bedtime routine, you will see your baby begin to show you sleepy cues such as yawning and rubbing their eyes. This is the perfect time to put the baby down awake in their crib and support the skill of falling asleep independently. Remember to continue to follow the recommendations for safe sleep throughout your baby’s first year. By keeping your baby’s sleep environment safe and supporting the skills of self soothing and falling asleep independently, you are already well on your way with sleep learning!