Common Sleep Training Concerns
As a child sleep consultant, I talk with so many parents who are absolutely exhausted and struggling with their little one’s sleep. Many families are ready to sleep train so the whole family can be well-rested, but there are special circumstances that they fear will affect the sleep training process. We hear a lot of “I want to sleep train, but…[insert common sleep training concerns here].”
Perhaps you are thinking about sleep training or considering working with our team, but you have some concerns. Let’s chat about some of the most popular sleep training concerns and if they will affect your ability to teach your little one healthier sleep habits.
Can I sleep train if my baby has reflux or another medical condition?
Acid reflux can be a big concern because it causes our sweet babies pain or discomfort, especially when they’re laying down. Many parents are advised to keep their baby upright for a short while after eating, and some babies require medication to get their symptoms under control.
It’s so important to ensure your little one’s reflux is well controlled and they are not in any pain before we begin sleep training. With reflux or any other medical condition, discuss with your pediatrician whether or not sleep training is appropriate for your baby and if there are any specific recommendations or accommodations needed to be successful. Then pass these along to your sleep consultant so you can develop a plan of action together!
Can I sleep train even if I live in an apartment?
During sleep training, there are always some tears. Children hate change! These tears are hard for us as parents and they can be unpleasant for neighbors as well.
Communication is key, especially in the situation where you are living in close proximity to others. Instead of taking a wait and see approach, it can be super helpful pay a quick visit to any neighbors who share a wall with your little one. Leave a short note explaining that you are teaching your little one to be a better sleeper and reassure them that any crying will be temporary. To sweeten the pot a little, consider leaving a little gift of baked goods or a bottle of wine. A pair of ear plugs or a portable sound machine add-on would be a nice gesture. A bit of a heads up can go a long way!
Can I sleep train without waking my other children?
You might be surprised to learn that 80% of kids will sleep through a fire alarm! Even knowing that, this is one of the most popular sleep training concerns for families with multiple children. We often over-estimate how disruptive the sleep training process will be on siblings, but we still like to take a proactive approach.
Consider adding a sound machine in the sibling’s room and a box fan to the hallway to help with sound masking. Another strategy we use is to temporarily separate children who are room sharing to give space for the other child to learn. We usually recommend moving the good sleeper out to preserve their sleep and decrease your stress. Then we move them back in together once everyone is sleeping better.
If the sibling is old enough, you might also show them the baby monitor and let them see how it works, then explain that if they hear the baby crying, Mommy and Daddy can hear it too and they can just roll over and go back to sleep.
Can I sleep train if I am breastfeeding?
At Bella Luna Family, we are #teamfeedyourbaby! But we are also super pro-breastfeeding if that is the right choice for your family! We always make sure families are in touch with their pediatrician to determine how many night feeds a baby needs and we work on decreasing the night feeds that are a habit vs. a need. You can 100% teach your baby healthy sleep habits and continue breastfeeding!
I was so worried about this personally when we sleep trained at 4 months, but I was pleasantly surprised to find we were able to breastfeed until we were both ready to stop, when my son was 20 months old.
Can I sleep train if my child is in daycare?
No problem! In fact, many of the families that we work with have children in a daycare setting. We can still make dramatic improvements in sleep, both day and night, even with the unique challenges of the daycare environment, including noise and distractions.
For daycare families, when we send your sleep plan, we’ll send over a separate, shorter version for daycare. This will help shape the conversation with your daycare provider and it outlines our goals, recommendations and how they can best support the process. Most daycares are more than happy to accommodate as best as possible and team up with parents. More sleep makes life easier for them as well!
Can we still have a flexible, on-the-go lifestyle and sleep train?
Can I be real with you? The transition to parenthood is hard. I don’t know about you, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. I missed my freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted and to be able to just get up a go! Many new parents feel the same way and say “we want our baby to adapt to our life, not the other way around.”
The truth is babies and children really thrive on structure and predictability. During the initial sleep training period, we need 2 weeks of consistency 100% of the time, to establish a super solid foundation.
Once that foundation is set, you can start to live a little… enter the 80/20 rule! 80-90% of the time, nap your baby at home, in their optimized sleep space so they can get plenty of quality, restorative sleep. This keeps your child well rested. Well-rested children tend to be more flexible, meaning that we can color outside the lines 10-20% of the time with on-the-go naps or a later bedtime for a special occasion. It’s all about balance!
Can we be successful if we’ve tried everything and sleep training didn’t work before?
If I had to guess, I would say that 95% of families I work with have tried some form of sleep training before they seek me out. I’m no plumber, but I also try to fix my leaky faucet by myself before I call in a professional! This is just human nature. But there’s no shame in needing help.
When it comes to sleep training, the method is a super small piece of a really big puzzle. When things don’t come together, usually it’s that a few of these pieces are out of place. My role as a sleep consultant is to help you bring all of those pieces together, and find a sustainable solution for your family. So, yes, even if you feel like you’ve tried everything, you can be successful with sleep training – you just may need a little help!
If you’ve tried it all or you have other sleep training concerns, we would be happy to talk through your specific concerns. Sign up for a free intro call with one of our team today and let’s get your family on the road to healthier sleep habits.
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