4 Steps to Sleep Training Success
Learn from my mistakes.
My first attempt at sleep training was at 2 am when my twins were 5.5 months old. I was awake for the 3rd time that night already. I said, “I’m done! Tonight is the night I start sleep training!”
My son cried. He woke his twin brother up. They both cried.
I bawled my eyes out.
My husband and I were yelling at each other…in the nursery.
I quit my half-hearted attempt at sleep training and made my son a bottle.
As I was feeding him, I vividly remember saying to myself, “I’m going to divorce this buffoon the minute I can do this myself!” (can you say “EXTREME SLEEP DEPRIVATION”?, we are happily married I can assure you!)
What was I missing to be a sleep training success story?
In today’s post, I’m going to give you some insight into how you can set yourself up to join the sleep training success club!
Step 1: Sleep Training Readiness Signs
To be successful with the sleep training process, you have to be ready! These are signs that you and your family may be ready.
- Many Night Wakings, Bedtime Battles or Short Naps. Your child is no longer a newborn and they are doing at least one of the challenges listed above.
- Life is unmanageable. You can’t continue the way that you are now and live a happy, healthy life.
- At least 4 Months Old, Adjusted for Prematurity. Your child is at least 4 months old developmentally, the earliest we sleep train. To ensure your baby is at least 16 weeks, subtract the weeks of prematurity from their current age. For under 4 months, check out our newborn sleep consultation.
- Healthy. Your child’s pediatrician says that your child is healthy enough for sleep training and any medical conditions are well managed.
- Commitment. You are open to making changes and committed to improving your child’s sleep
Step 2: Identify Your Sleep Goals
Identifying your goals goes a long way to helping you to be successful with sleep training.
The most common goals families have when they are ready for sleep training are:
- Peaceful bedtimes
- Learning to fall asleep independently
- Sleeping through the night with age-appropriate feeds
- Taking good quality naps
- Meeting daytime and nighttime sleep needs
- The entire family to be well-rested
Sleep training can make these goals become a reality. Imagine waking up well-rested, again!?
Step 3: Understanding What’s Really Going On
So, you are ready and you know what’s possible with sleep training, but what is causing these challenges in the first place?
If your child relies on you to fall asleep, when they wake at night (which is normal) or after one sleep cycle at nap time, they are like “yoohoo – get back in here and help me get back to sleep!” These things we do to “help” are called sleep associations or sleep crutches. Things we’ve taught our babies that they need from us to sleep.
After the 4-month sleep regression, these wake ups happen a lot more frequently and that is when life begins to feel unmanageable for many families.
The most popular sleep associations include:
- Eating to sleep
- Rocking and bouncing to sleep
- Holding to / for sleep
- Movement sleep – relying on the car, stroller, swing or Snoo,
- Replacing the pacifier
- Reactive co-sleeping – bringing your little one into bed with you
To achieve your family’s sleep goals, we need to take a step back and allow your little one to learn to fall asleep and resettle to sleep independently. The stepping back is what we call sleep training.
Sleep training is changing the way that we respond to our little ones. Children don’t love change, so when we change the way we respond, our babies get MAD. I imagine our babies saying “this is NOT the way we do things! Get over here and do what we normally do. NOW!”
Step 4: Choosing a Sleep Training Method
A sleep training method is having a planned response to your little one’s protests to the change. There are multiple effective ways to teach our babies new habits, but we want to ensure we have a consistent response to make it easier for our babies to learn.
There are many different methods that we use with clients. Some have more parental intervention and others are little to no parental intervention. Here is a quick synopsis of the methods that we use with our families.
Next week we will review the most popular sleep training methods!
In the meantime, if you are like “I can’t wait – I want to get started ASAP and need help!” sign up for a free intro call so we can learn more about your challenges and we can talk about working together. Sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity and we can help!
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