Working parent and sleep training is not always an easy task. Those parents who’ve tried it know: sleep training means ongoing dedication, consistency, and hard work. It involves following a consistent bedtime routine, teaching your little one how to sleep on his own, paying attention to nap times, and more.
But how do you sleep train a baby when you’re a working mom? Are you never going to take a good night’s sleep ever again?
Not quite. You absolutely can sleep train successfully—you just need to apply some specific strategies that will transform your little one from being a terrible sleeper to the ultimate sleep-all-night person.
Choose the start time for sleep training while being a working parent very carefully
Generally, sleep training lasts for two to four weeks. That’s why I recommend starting during a period when your life is very “normal.” By normal, I mean not moving to a new home, going on a vacation abroad, or welcoming a new addition to the family. Children need consistency to learn how to self-soothe, and a hectic schedule is going to disrupt the normal flow of life in your home.
Discuss sleep training in detail with your partner and decide on a start date that works for both of you. Your days and nights should look and feel exactly the same. You should go and return from work at the same time, have someone familiar take care of your little one while you’re gone, and be available in the afternoon to apply the sleep training method of your choice.
Be sure nothing disturbs your sleep training schedule and that you and your partner are fully committed to sticking with the plan.
Start on a Friday,
If you work on a Monday-Friday schedule, it’s a good idea to start sleep training on a Friday to take advantage of the upcoming weekend. By doing so, you’ll have the weekend to get used to the process so that the initial sleep deprivation doesn’t negatively affect your job performance. Some parents use vacation days in order not to worry about work and devote all of their time to teaching their little ones how to sleep independently.
Working Parent: Sleep-train before you go back to work
According to experts, sleep training can start once babies are 4 to 6 months old. This is the ideal age for sleep training since babies are old enough to sleep for six to eight hours without eating and still haven’t started suffering from separation anxiety.
If your maternity leave allows it, start sleep training right at the four-month mark so that you have a good sleeper by the time you return to work.
Try the cry-it-out method
If you’re hurrying to return to work and are looking for the fastest sleep training method, a good strategy would be to try the cry-it-out method.
This method involves putting your baby to bed and letting him cry until he puts himself to sleep without any comfort or help from you.
While it may seem harsh, the cry-it-out technique is simple in concept and clearly outlines exactly what to do each night. Most children start sleeping through the night after about four days.
Communicate all sleep training plans, goals, and schedules to caregivers
Let your care provider know that you’re sleep training and outline any sleep “rules” that you’re following. Most care providers will offer their help and follow your instructions for putting your baby down for naps and feeding him at appropriate times. For example, you can print out your sleep and feed schedule and give it to your care provider along with tips.
If your baby struggles to sleep at daycare, another option is to ask for help from family and friends to take care of your little one. A grandparent who can stay with the baby for a few days instead of your baby going to daycare will be ideal.
Follow a consistent bedtime routine
A consistent bedtime routine will do half of the work for you. When everything’s the same every night, your baby will feel comforted as he’ll know what to expect.
It doesn’t have to be anything overly complicated. Start the routine one hour before bedtime by dimming the lights. Give him a bath, change his diapers, read a bedtime story, etc.
With each activity, your child will get more relaxed and ready to fall asleep. The trick is to put him down while he’s drowsy but still awake if he’s younger than four months and fully awake if he’s older.
Hire a sleep trainer
You’re already an expert when it comes to your baby. If we combine your expertise with my expertise as a sleep trainer, together, we can make some magic happen.
After working with many families in all kinds of situations, I’ve seen it all and can guide you through it all too.
Books and online courses are too general and aim to provide help to thousands of families simultaneously. To compare, a sleep coach creates a personalized process to your baby’s and family’s needs. This can save you weeks of frustration for not being able to teach your little one how to fall asleep independently.
You’ll get the fantastic opportunity to focus on being a great parent, partner, and employee while leaving the sleep stuff to me.