Most sleep training articles focus on getting your baby to sleep for longer stretches at night (or all the way through the night if you're feeling ambitious.) But advice on sleep training older babies isn't as prevalent. Once your child passes the one year mark, they're able to make their opinion known loud and clear, which sometimes makes sleep training them a bit trickier than their younger counterparts. But, thanks to the work of sleep training experts, you can know everything you need to know about sleep training a one-year-old with the click of a button.
Of course, no child is exactly alike and sleep training will look differently for each family, but these tips cover the bases for sleep training an older baby. If you tried sleep training when your baby was younger but it didn't stick, you'll likely need to adjust your strategies now that they're older. In fact, after your child's first birthday is a great time to begin sleep training. Many parents are ready to night wean at this point, making it a prime opportunity for sleeping for longer stretches.
Some of these tips are pretty intuitive, but some of them you may not have thought of trying yet. Approaching sleep training with an open mind and a firm will can make sure that both you and your tiny toddler will make up all of that lost sleep in no time.
1. You Can Try Methods Besides Cry It Out
As your baby develops more abilities to communicate, their cries will take on new meanings. Although modified CIO approaches to sleep training may work well for younger babies, it can send confusing signals to older babies. According to the Baby Sleep Site, knowing the difference between a toddler who can put themselves to sleep but chooses not to (toddlers are known for their strong wills, right?) and a toddler who just hasn't learned how to sleep alone yet is key to choosing which method you'll use.
2. It's All About Giving Them New Sleep Associations
Forming new sleep associations is important in helping them sleep on their own, according to Aha Parenting. If you've been nursing your baby to sleep, or every time they wake during the night, you'll need to replace that association with a new one if they're going to sleep without you feeding them during the night.
3. It Is Important To Have A Routine
The Sleep Foundation noted the importance of establishing a healthy and calming bedtime routine from a young age. This helps your child know whats coming next, and eventually, anticipate bedtime on their own.
4. It Helps To Use Verbal Cues
Although they may not be able to say many words just yet, don't underestimate your child's ability to understand what you're saying. Today's Parent recommends using simple phrases each night to remind them what's happening next, so they're not caught off guard when it comes time to lay down to sleep.
5. It's Important To Be Calm, But Firm
At this age, your child is able to understand the concept of boundaries. Dr. Sears recommends using a calm but firm voice when laying your child down and telling them it's time to sleep. If you're not committed to the plan, why should they be?
6. It May Take A While
Don't expect your 1 year old to sleep all the way through the night after only a few tries. According to Today's Parent, it may take weeks or months for a one year old to sleep through the night, depending on the method you try. Having reasonable expectations can make the training period easier for both of you — especially knowing that the end result involves more sleep.