How to sleep-Train your child

When Abdullah was a few months old, one of the biggest challenges for me was to put him to sleep. Sometimes it would take as long as 2 hours, not to mention the continuous rocking and singing lullaby. I also started having pain in my back from holding him for so long. Phew! that was hard. What bothered me the most was not being able to enjoy any gathering. For Abdullah’s naptime, I had to go to a separate room for a long time until he slept while others enjoyed food and gupshup (I’m not complaining, it’s my duty but it used to take longer than usual. I was getting tired, agitated and moody). It was then when I knew I had to do something about it as it was affecting the rest of my day.

I used to watch a show in which a professional nanny used to help parents in setting a proper bedtime routine for their kids and assisted them in sleep training their kids. I took inspiration from it and the techniques shown in this show helped me a lot especially developing a solid bedtime routine. There are many ways to sleep-train your kids and every parent can choose what they think best suits their kids but in my case, the following routine worked like a charm!

  1. First of all, follow a proper bedtime routine. It is a crucial step in sleep training and general well-being of your child. When the child sleeps in time, they wake up fresh and well-rested. It can also save them from future seep problems. Now the question arises, how to develop this routine? Start with an early dinner followed by a nice bath. Make sure the bath time is fun and enjoyable. After that, your child will already be tired. Take them to their bed, dim the lights and read a book/tell a story/read duas. Spend a good few minutes with them. You can really connect with your child at this time as there are no distractions which are there during the day.
  2. Lay your child on their bed and say Goodnight/Shab bakhair/Allah Hafiz. These words will act as a signal in future that its now time to sleep. So choose one word and stick to it especially for younger kids.
  3. Sit near the bed/cot facing the other side.
  4. If your child tries to talk or get your attention, ignore them. Kids try to get all cuddly (elder kids may argue & try to talk to themselves out of it) and distract the parents from the issue at hand 😀 So try not to fall prey to that!
  5. If they cry, wait for 1-2 minutes and then calm them down not more than a few minutes without picking them up. DO NOT TALK TO/ENGAGE IN A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR CHILD AT THIS POINT. Only say good night, lay them down and get back to your position.  (Warning: be mentally prepared that it may take many turns until your kid gives up and sleeps. You may even loose your sanity but patience is key here. Ask your spouse/friend/family member to stay in the other room to emotionally support you in case you get overwhelmed. Trust me it’s not an easy task)
  6. Repeat this process until they sleep.
  7. Each night, go one step further away from the cot/bed in hope that one night when u bid Goodnight and leave the room, your kid will sleep on their own.
  8. Be consistent with this routine for at least a week and then you will see the results.

I started sleep training Abdullah when he was 7 months old and the first time, it took me 1.5 hours. For the first 2 to 3 days, Abdullah used to cry for getting my attention or when he wanted me to pick him up. But it didn’t last long and within days he was able to sleep in his own without me having to hold or rock him.

Some parents would argue that it’s a bit hard to leave your kids alone in a room and to let them sleep on their own but we have to be tough to teach them some important basic life-skills. Kids should be able to sleep on their own. This practice instills the concept of independence in kids at a early stage and is also beneficial for parents as they can have some time for themselves. That being said, if it not working out for you then do not push the kid unnecessarily as every child is different and one technique may not work on all.

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