What to know before you begin sleep training
March 24, 2016
I’m fortunate to work with the families who seek me out. If you’re looking to hire a sleep coach, it’s probably because you’ve already chatted with your sister, mother, friends, Google and possibly even strangers on the internet, in search of sleep solutions. The families who ultimately hire me are ready and highly committed to see change.
If you’re considering sleep training, whether on your own or with a sleep coach, this is the kind of thing you want to do once, do right and never have to worry about again. After working with hundreds of families over the years, these are some of my top considerations before proceeding with sleep training.
- Give it time – Poor sleep habits did not develop overnight. It’s not reasonable to expect a complete change in habits in a single night. Give sleep training a fair shot before evaluating success or failure.
- Commit and be consistent – There is no “kinda sleep train.” You’re in or your out. If you have an awareness that you can’t commit, you’re not ready or it doesn’t feel like the right move, that’s ok too. Don’t embark upon sleep training until you’re absolutely ready.
- Be healthy – Illness can limit sleep quality. An underlying health issue (something more acute, like colds, flu or ear infections) warrants holding off on sleep training until baby is well. More complex chronic issues like allergies, digestive issues or even heart conditions, could warrant some special instructions from your child’s paediatrician. Check with your doctor before beginning.
- Set age appropriate goals – Goals are an important way to measure success. A four month old who sleeps through the night without feeds or a 4 year old with a nap and an early bedtime might not be appropriate. Understand what a reasonable quantity and allocation of sleep should look like for each age.
- The small stuff IS the big stuff – I’ll let you in on a little secret… sleep training ISN’T about crying it out or what sleep training method you choose. Great routines, awesome timing, an ideal environments – these are what can make or break your success.
- Right method for your family – Choose a strategy you can be consistent with. It doesn’t have to be cry it out. If you can’t follow through, it’s not the right method.
- Have a plan – Discuss bedtime, night waking and nap time scenarios with your partner, consider options, agree to a plan and then follow through. Sleep sabotaging decisions are made at 2AM when fatigue and emotion takes over. Stick to the plan!
- Engage all care providers – The more consistency you can offer, the more likely you’ll achieve success. Child care provider(s) can help in working towards those goals.
- Support network – Maybe this means you and your partner, maybe this means putting a good friend or relative on standby, maybe this means hiring a sleep coach. If sleep training were easy, we’d all have sleeping babies, I wouldn’t have a job and you wouldn’t be reading this post. You’ll need a support network in place. Friends or family who are not supportive can and should be avoided.
Alright parents, what’s your best advice to share with other families?
About the author:
|Krista is a mother of 3 (+1 dog who believes she’s people), a wife to a wonderful husband, and the owner and founder of Sleeperific. Even though she’s been in the sleep consulting biz for 4 years, she still gets excited when she’s hired by a sleepy family.|
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