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The best time to get your child into a new sleep pattern is as young as possible. It also helps if he/she is healthy; trying to sleep train a teething infant is not fair on either yourself or the baby, and it won’t work. Make sure you and your partner agree on a sleep pattern for your child. Sleep training a child can be difficult and emotionally wearing in the short term but ultimately will serve both you and your child’s best interests.

If your child is used to having physical contact with you until he/she falls asleep, gradually wean him/her off this habit. Although this stage can take a long time, persevere: the time will shorten between his/her lying down and falling asleep. Remember that babies do not have a sufficient vocabulary to communicate with us; so, rely on that touching to reassure the baby of your presence. He/she will need time to get used to not having the physical contact with you. Follow this pattern for a week or so: if the baby cries, do not pick him/her up. Pat the baby or sing to him/her to let him/her know you are still there. Follow this pattern until your baby is comfortable with this; then move onto the next step.

Follow your normal routine and put your child down as usual. Then, move about the room tidying toys or clothes, where he/she can see you. Then, leave the room for about a minute, and come back in again. Smile at your baby but try not to stimulate him/her by talking loud or making a noise. Again leave the room, extending the time lapse you are away by a couple of seconds each time. This level may take the baby a few days to adjust to, but ultimately you will be able to leave the room for enough time that when you return, your baby will be asleep. If you have to attend to the baby in the middle of the night, keep communication to a minimum; this is not play or talk time. Repeat the process of leaving and entering the room. The knowledge that you will be coming back into the room will enable your baby to fall asleep feeling secure and happy enough to drift off.

Remember that adjusting to any new sleep pattern takes time. Your child will get used to it, but the adjustment takes time. Be patient.