Sleep-training and babies: why ‘crying it out’ is best avoided
First, understanding the sleep needs and circadian rhythms of the baby can go a long way towards optimising sleep. There are two sleep regulating mechanisms in the human body. The first is the Circadian rhythm, or body clock. This is regulated by exposure to light, noise, activity and social cues at the right time of day. Getting outside in the daytime and having a predictable darkening of the room one to two hours before bedtime can really help. Some parents find a predictable routine that signals bedtime helps (having a bath, getting changed and maybe a soothing story or song).
The second regulating mechanism is something known as “homeostatic sleep pressure”. The drive to sleep (when your eyes start drooping) builds during wakeful hours. The younger we are, the less time we can manage awake. So, understanding how to support babies to take regular naps to prevent them from becoming overtired makes a big difference.