The topic of Sleep Training gets lots of people pretty riled up. I am a firm believer in you do what works for you. If you want to help your child learn how to sleep better, then find the best method for you and your family. If you are fine with the way things are, then that is okay too.
I believe that lots of people are afraid to talk about the fact their child does not sleep and they are just plain exhausted. Who wants to admit they feel like a failure? Babies are supposed to sleep wonderfully. I can say from personal experience that I did not talk about the struggles we had with getting our young man the sleep he required. I did not want others to think I was incompetent.
I would have stood on my head if that would have worked. I tried many different sleep environments. I always thought I would not want to co-sleep, but I tried. I would have done it if it worked for us.
We had 2 bassinets and a crib. I tried the swing and many other gadgets. Eventually, with practice and our assistance, he was able to sleep. This was a long process for us. We were able to teach him the skills to sleep with very minimal crying. I could not and still do not do well with him crying. That said, I clearly understood that when he cried, it was his way of expressing himself. He was very clear that he was not happy with any change. Once we had a consistent routine in place his sleep improved immensely.
It was my own personal experience that gave me the desire to become a Child Sleep Consultant. I had over 20 years of experience working with children and a Bachelor of Child Studies. My own child had me stumped! There I was pulling out all the tips I had given to others or used in the past and they were not working. What worked for me was finding a method that I was comfortable with and our son did well with. The method we used was to stay in the room with our son. We worked our way out of the room slowly.
After we had worked out our sleep issues, I was introduced to the Sleep Sense Program. This program was very similar to the strategies we used to teach our how to sleep. I decided to become a consultant so I could teach other parents this method.
To this day, there are times that I hear other Mom’s talking about sleep and I want to scream it does not have to be that way! What really gets me fired up is when I hear or read things like this:
- You should just enjoy getting up to nurse/feed all night, someday he’ll be all grown up and you’ll miss it.
- You were the one who decided to have children.
- Well, you’d better learn to live with it!
Being overtired is not fun for anyone involved. When people state things like I previously mentioned, it makes the reality of being a parent that much harder to take. Then throw in the many myths about sleep training and sleep-deprived parents have nowhere to turn. Let’s debunk the myths:
Myth #1: Your baby will not love you in the morning.
Really? Do you think that after just one night of changing your baby’s sleep habits she won’t love you anymore? Is that all it would take?
Would all the cuddles you give her, all the food you provide, all the diapers and clean clothes she wears, all the playtimes and bath times, all the kisses and laughter be for nothing because of a few nights of protest?
The truth is that making changes to anyone’s sleep habits will always be met with some resistance. So yes, it is safe to assume that your baby is not going to happily accept the fact that you are no longer going to rock her on the exercise ball for an hour each and every night, but as long as you are a loving and attentive parent in the first place, the love will endure.
In fact, most people find that once their baby is sleeping well, she’s even happier and healthier than before.
Myth #2: Sleep training means leaving your baby to cry it out.
It does not have to be that way. I am not comfortable with babies crying. I do my best to teach families how to reduce the amount of crying. In fact, I usually recommend staying in the room. Sometimes your presence is enough to reduce your child’s resistance with sleep.
Children adapt SO quickly that she’ll soon figure out how to calmly get herself to sleep and then everyone is happier.
Myth #3: Sleep training is too stressful for babies.
Sleep training does not have to be stressful. There will be crying out of protest. It does get easier with consistency and persistence. The first few nights are usually the most difficult.
As for those who say that a few nights of crying are too stressful? You’ve really got two choices:
- Make some changes. This usually involves a few nights of your child crying for 10 to 40 minutes at bedtime. After a few nights, most children start to learn how to fall asleep independently and the crying stops completely shortly thereafter. In this scenario, the total amount of stress felt by your child amounts to a few minutes of crying for a few nights.
- Do nothing. In this scenario, the parent continues to nurse/rock/bounce their child to sleep every night. The child wakes up 1 to 10 times per night and needs to be nursed/rocked/bounced back to sleep each time. In this scenario, both parent and child are subjected to months (or even years) of systematic sleep deprivation where neither ever gets enough consolidated sleep to wake up and feel rested or refreshed.
So what sounds more harmful: A few night’s of crying or months/years of depriving your child of a good nights sleep?
If one or more of these three myths have been holding you back from taking the simple steps needed to create long-term, positive change for your child’s sleep, I really hope I’ve been able to change your mind.
And as always I’m here for you when you’re ready to get started. Feel free to email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.