You’ve made the decision to do something about your child’s sleep, but now what? You’ve probably searched the interne, read books or spoken to friends looking for advice about how to resolve your child’s sleep issues – to get your baby to sleep better at night. But, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there and the truth is, there are various baby sleep training methods that could help you. So it’s far from simple.
First, it’s worth considering your parenting style, preferences and of course your child’s individual sleep problems.
What’s right for my baby?
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether sleep training is right for your baby. The age of your child is a significant factor. In my opinion, it is only worth considering sleep training your baby from 6 months. That’s because I really believe that parents should be fully responsive to the needs of a newborn or very young baby so that crucial warning signs are not missed. Remember that young babies are still adjusting to the world and it is only at around 7-8 months that they become aware of themselves as separate beings from their main carer.
It is also important to bear in mind that different sleep methods are appropriate for different ages. For example, some methods which rely on you frequently picking up and comforting your child, may be fine for a light 7-month-old but may be totally inappropriate for a 2-year-old. A further consideration is whether your child is in a cot, a bed, or perhaps they are still co-sleeping with you. All these factors play a part in determining which sleep training plan is right for you and your child.
Please stop the crying!
I’ve yet to meet a parent who is comfortable listening to their child cry. And that’s perfectly understandable. For any parent, their child’s cry is unpleasant. I personally hated it.
But, you can look at crying differently. After all crying is a very natural form of communication for a young baby. A cry has a meaning – your child is trying to tell you something. Over time you begin to recognise different cries with different meanings. You’ll recognise when your child is in pain, if they are hungry, or if they want attention. Once you learn to understand cries in this way, it helps you manage the situation more effectively.
In choosing a sleep training method, you can also choose how responsive you want to be to your child’s cries. Put simply, the first question to ask yourself is: do I want to be with my child when they cry? Be mindful that even the gentlest of sleep training methods, where you don’t leave your child’s side, will require you to tolerate some crying. This is because you will be encouraging a change in their sleep habits that they simply aren’t used to. Remember that you are trying to break your child’s habits and encourage independent sleep.
If you want to be with your child every time they cry you can still sleep train them. I offer various gentle methods which allow your child to detach themselves very gradually from you.
How quickly do you want change?
The next question you have to ask yourself is: how quickly you want change. For many parents I have helped, particularly those with more than one child, speed has been an important factor. They needed their chosen method to work quickly. But, for that, you may need to accept that you cannot be there to comfort your child every time they start crying. None of my sleep methods advocate leaving a child to cry for long periods of time. I believe it is important for a child to feel that their parents are there for them. However, you can successfully train your child to fall asleep independently allowing brief periods of crying of just 2 minutes at a time.
For parents who wanted quick results, my sleep packages had their children generally sleeping independently within a week. For those who chose a more gentle, responsive method, it took a bit longer – approximately 2-4 weeks.
Be comfortable with the choice you make and stick with it!
Sleep training is as much about the parents as it is about the child. Read my blog here to know if you’re ready to sleep train your baby. Whatever you choose, be comfortable with your decision and stick to it. Like so many things, consistency is key and I recommend that both parents should be fully on board and comfortable with their chosen sleep training method. Where there is a difference of opinion, you are better off choosing the more gentle method that both parents can be fully comfortable with. Of course, if you aren’t ready yet, then hold off. Your child’s sleep issues may resolve on their own, and if not, this is always something you can return to a few months later.
Where do I start?
You can start right here with Sleep Superstars as we provide sleep welfare packages for children aged 6-36 months, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional sleep consultant. Our sleep packages are carefully tailored both to your child and to your preferences as a parent. And we’ll guide you every step of the way with our one-of-a-kind Sleep Support Hub. To find out how it works see here and read our testimonials.