Much like parenting methods in general, the methods that moms have used to train their child to sleep throughout the entire night and to soothe them if they do wake up, have shifted dramatically.
Psychology Today points out that it was pretty socially acceptable for parents to either ignore their loud, frustrated child until they wear themselves out and go back to sleep, or briefly go in, pat them until they relax, and sing them a lullaby before returning to their crib.
Nowadays, Psychology Today adds that science has proven that the method of ignoring the little one when they wake up and teaching them to self-soothe to go back to bed doesn’t work very well. Actually, doing this just winds up upsetting pretty much everyone in the household.
Most moms swear by tips and tricks such as lightly spraying a perfume they wear as a way to calm their child to go to bed or even sitting by their child’s crib over a slow period of time so that they can gradually change their little one’s sleeping patterns. The following list explores how sleep training methods have morphed and changed over the years.
Let's start with the 10 things Baby-Boomers did...
20 Letting The Babies Exercise Their Lungs A Bit
According to Psychology Today, it used to be the norm to see moms let their child exercise their lungs every time they woke up in the middle of the night and had no idea how to soothe themselves to go back to sleep.
Recently, science has proven that this old-school method isn’t all that successful when it comes to teaching a child how to go to sleep on their own. In fact, it can actually be incredibly upsetting for both mother and infant. Sleep training a child is actually quite similar to sleep training a new puppy; new research has shown that it is better to keep a calm and consistent routine to lull them to sleep using gentle methods, than it is to simply purchase a pair of earplugs to muffle all the noise as you attempt to go back to bed.
19 They Consulted Books Instead Of The Internet
Moms of yesteryear did not have the luxury of the Internet that yielded tons of information that can be scientifically accurate and up-to-date with a few clicks of a button.
Parents adds that they used to have to pour over books in order to figure out how to successfully train their child to go to sleep on their own terms. If one method didn’t work, then they would have to ask their pediatrician or their friends to recommend another book that went in-depth about another method to try and the entire process would start all over again. These books were often long too, so it could take moms several days or even a week or two to finish it.
18 Parents Didn't Really Take Shifts To Soothe Baby At Night
In this day and age, Parents write that new moms and dads often divvy up sleep training duties by creating a schedule as to who will get up and when the minute their infant starts to let the entire household know that they are up.
Back in the day, it was usually the mom that bore the full responsibility of sleep training a child since it was often the case that the dad was the breadwinner of the family and needed a full night’s sleep because he had to get up early the next day to go to work. Many moms often stayed home with the baby on maternal leave or even decided to just be stay-at-home-mothers, so they were used to be in charge of getting their child’s circadian rhythm on track.
17 Patting Them To Sleep
Today’s Parent points out that it used to be incredibly common for mothers years ago to try and lull their child to sleep by patting them on the back in rhythmic motions until the sound and the touch made the infant’s eyes close.
I have very vivid memories of my mother utilizing this exact method when my little sister was a baby and she was gamely attempting to teach her that she had to go to bed at a reasonable hour and couldn’t do the seemingly endless cycle of nap and wake up on repeat anymore. Sometimes it worked, but then there were other times when my sister was basically like “Nuh-uh, I’m not going to bed” and my mom had to resort to another tactic.
16 Letting Baby Have Time In The Outdoors During The Day
It’s pretty common nowadays to go out and run errands while noticing that modern moms have no qualms about letting their child take a nap in their stroller as they pick up a bottle of milk or purchase more cereal for their family.
Parents adds that this is a complete 180 from moms years ago. Back then, they often felt that their child had to be up and active during the day (aside from scheduled naps, of course) so that sleep training them would be a bit easier since they’d be pretty tired by the time they had to go to bed.
15 Using A Calming Routine Before Bed
Parents adds that it used to be pretty common for moms to establish a bedtime routine that consisted of things such like reading a bedtime story, putting on the nightlight and giving a baby a warm bath before it was time for bedtime during sleep training.
Of course, I was too young to remember any of the sleep training methods that my parents used on me but I do know that from the time I was an infant, they used to put a nightlight on for me as a way to keep me reassured that the normal bedtime routine was being followed. This must have worked pretty well because I actually slept with a nightlight on until I was about seven years old—I simply couldn’t sleep without it up until that point!
14 Sitting By A Chair With The Baby
According to Parents, another old method of sleep training was when parents stuck by their child’s crib until they were confident that they were fast asleep and then they tried to tiptoe out of the room as quietly as they could.
That is what my parents used to do when my sister was about six months old. Being a fussy sleeper apparently runs in the family and my poor mother had to do a whole song-and-dance to get her to go to bed. Once she was snoring away in the crib, my mother had to sneak out of my sister’s room like she was a ninja so as to not awaken her.
13 Transitioning To Their Own Room ASAP
Parents notes that it used to be very common for mom and dad to keep their child’s crib in their own bedroom for the first five or six months of their baby’s life before they made the decision to transition their child to their own bedroom.
Sure, there would be times if the little one couldn’t fall asleep that moms would begrudgingly let their child sleep in their parents’ bedroom, but it used to be pretty standard to move the crib out into their own space at a very young age during sleep training and just use a baby monitor to keep an eye on them.
12 Playing Soothing Music
It is very common to see parents being portrayed in television shows or movies trying to either play soothing music or badly belt out a lullaby in order to get an infant to go back to sleep after they woke up during the middle of the night.
Parents adds it was a standard method of sleep training to either play soothing music during bedtime or sing your child a lullaby as they were going to sleep in their crib. If the child woke up in the middle of the night, parents would softly sing or bust out the cassette player to soothe their upset infant.
11 Swaddle The Little One
Parents adds that in years past, it used to be all the rage for moms to swaddle and bundle their baby up until they couldn’t move out of the cloth burrito as a way of soothing a child during sleep training in the hopes that the gentle pressure would lull them to sleep.
Instead of the specially designed blankets or onesies that most moms use today, moms in the past didn’t really use anything special. My own mother used to swaddle me as a baby and there are some really hilarious old photos of me as an infant wearing this yarn blanket embroidered with roses in my crib.
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10 Crowdsourcing Information
Instead of running out to the local bookstore in order to see if they have a book on sleep training, nowadays Sarah Fit points out that parents just fire up the laptop and turn to the Internet in order to crowdsource information.
The fact that asking for help on social media, or looking information up online is now so commonplace, actually makes it much easier to figure out a schedule and what type of sleep training parents want to implement with their child; due to the fact that they don’t have to spend a few hours pouring through a book in order to figure out what exactly is required for the method to work.
9 Helping Baby Transition From Naps
Sarah Fit points out that when it comes to sleep training older children today, it is best to transition from multiple naps per day to just once a day when they are in the age range of 12 to 18 months.
One way to change a child’s sleeping habits and keep them from getting up earlier is to give them a sippy cup full of water and a book to read. The only downside of this is that some children may have a wet diaper that needs to be changed when they get up at their new time because they drank a lot of liquid.
8 Timing The Minutes Their Child Is Allowed To Sleep
Sarah Fit adds that another good way to adapt your child’s circadian rhythm is by perfectly timing how long your little one gets to nap per day. In the age of smartphones with alarms that are loud enough to wake up Rip Van Winkle, this makes a mom’s life a heck of a lot easier since she doesn’t have to keep staring at a clock.
That way, your child doesn’t get a chance to sleep for however long they want to and you’re in control of the naptime. This strict schedule will teach them that there are appropriate times to go to bed and appropriate times to stay up.
7 Camping Out Near The Crib
Romper reports that many mothers have been posting online nowadays that they have had great success using the fading method for sleep training their little one. This method has become a hit with moms in recent years because it is very gentle and basically falls within the spectrum of positive reinforcement. As any good dog trainer worth their salt will tell you, positive reinforcement works on both canines and humans too!
With the fading sleep method, moms can camp out by their baby’s crib and sit with them until they fall asleep. The idea is to slowly move farther back in the chair in the room until you get to the point to where you can put your little one down and they’ll fall asleep ASAP.
6 Adding Comforting Scents To The Baby's Blanket
According to Romper, there has been an increase in some moms trying to make the crib or the bassinet seem more comforting for their little one during sleep training by spraying soothing scents to help lull their child to a full night’s rest.
There are two ways to implement this tip: some mothers swear that by spritzing a little bit of the perfume or the body spray that they were every day onto a blanket will help soothe your little one. While others feel that a few drops of breastmilk on their little one’s sheets helps reassure them as they drift off to bed.
5 Using Graduated Extinction
Romper adds that the form of sleep training known as graduated extinction has become very popular with parents in recent years because it is not as harsh as the old school method of letting a baby make a fuss until they realize no one is going to arrive to soothe them and they learn to go back to sleep on their own.
With graduated extinction, moms can avoid rushing immediately to their little one for up to two minutes to start with. As the first night wears on, they can slowly increase that amount to six minutes. Over the next few weeks, moms can slowly extend the time they delay their responses until their little one is sleeping throughout the night.
4 Not Feeding The Baby Before Bedtime
Parents notes that after a baby hits the age of four months, moms should slowly try to move away from rocking and feeding their infant to sleep because they’re going to expect that every time they wake up in the middle of the night.
Since infants can wake up anywhere from two to six times in one night, it is best to swap out the feeding for a soothing routine before bed, such as dimming the lights and putting the little one in the crib before they get too sleepy. That way, all moms will have to do is soothe them and then dim the lights instead of scurrying around trying to feed them all night.
3 Using A Timer To Help Baby Adjust
According to Parents, moms are raving about using a timer on their smartphones to help them with the sleep training method known as the bedtime-hour fading routine.
Basically, you start off by putting your child to bed at the time they naturally fall asleep. If you’re not sure, keep a log of when they finally get some shuteye so that this method works. Get a consistent routine together and make this time their official bedtime for a few days. Next, set a timer on your phone to make their bedtime 15 minutes earlier and repeat this step until your child goes to sleep at the time you really want them to head to bed.
2 Getting Started ASAP
The Bump points out that in the past, some pediatricians used to recommend certain ages to start officially sleep training your child and not implementing any official methods a second before.
However, many pediatricians and mothers have moved away from such ancient beliefs and there are plenty of infants that begin their sleep training from the tender age of four months old. Not to worry though if you feel that you have waited too long as per your pediatrician’s advice, as children as old as a year or two can easily be trained to go to sleep at regular intervals using modern methods.
1 They Keep Expectations Low
Nowadays, if there’s anything that new moms, dog owners, and dog trainers can agree on, it is that it is best to use positive reinforcement and keep their expectations low.
Sure, everyone wants to get a good night’s sleep ASAP but Romper adds that moms today know that when they move too fast and have unrealistic expectations, that their little one will sleep through the night, will only lead to defeat. As the old saying goes, slow and steady wins the race—and sets your child up for a successful sleep training.