As the New Year is upon us, I’ve already talked with some families who are ready to make SLEEP a goal for the New Year. They want help teaching their child independent sleep skills, both as a gift to their child and also as a gift to themselves!
I’ve also talked with some families whose interest is peaked, but they’re wondering if sleep training is right for them. Or they’re wondering when will be a good time to sleep train.
So here are some thoughts I have that would be helpful for you to consider.
First, I want to bust a few common misconceptions out there.
Sleep Training Myths
- It’s time to sleep train when you hit rock bottom. If you’re at rock bottom, then yes, it is a great time to sleep train. But it doesn’t have to get that bad to be ready! In fact, I’ve worked with families who choose to sleep train before they hit any sort of big challenges, because they wan to prevent getting to such a place.
- Sleep training means cry-it-out. Some families choose to follow this method, but you don’t have to! While there will likely be some crying and/or protesting in the process, I walk my families through a plan of how they can both give their child time and space to learn to sleep, while also comforting them and supporting them along the way.
- You need a sleep consultant in order to sleep train. While I love my job and think it is incredibly helpful for families to have a plan and someone to guide them through the ups and downs, I also know many families who have sleep trained their children on their own and it’s worked well for them! I also know families who didn’t need to do any sort of sleep training, as their child seemed to be more of a “natural.”
- You don’t need a sleep consultant to sleep train. While many people successfully sleep train on their own, I’ve had families who have read all of the books and all of the blogs, who have tried everything they know to try, and they’re still stuck. Sometimes it takes an outside eye to look in and help families navigate sleep! Similarly, I’ve worked with families who are confident they could do it on their own, but they’d rather leave out the guessing and have support along the way.
So when should you sleep train? The simplest answer is: when you’re ready. But here are some clues it might be time.
Signs it’s a good time to sleep train:
- You want to! You’d like to be able to lay your child down awake, walk away, and be confident he or she will fall asleep independently, and you’re ready to teach your little one to do so.
- Your baby is four months or older and is therefore capable of self-soothing (it’s okay if he or she still needs night feedings!). And did you know you can still sleep train your toddler and older child, even if sleep has always been a struggle? (ps. If you have a newborn, I can absolutely help you establish a healthy sleep foundation, but note it’s not officially sleep training!)
- You find yourself in survival mode. You dread bedtime, you’re nervous and anxious when it comes to sleep, and/or you find yourself making unsafe sleep choices but don’t know what else to do.
- Your little one’s sleep and your lack thereof is affecting your relationships.
Signs it’s NOT a good time to sleep train:
- You don’t want to! If your child is a great sleeper or you are comfortable with your child’s current sleep habits and it works well for your family, then you don’t need to! Similarly, if you are simply considering doing so because you feel like “you should,” it’s probably not the right time for you.
- You’re traveling in 2-3 weeks. If you plan to be away from home overnight in the next 2-3 weeks, now is not the time to sleep train. We want a solid two weeks at home for babies and a solid three weeks at home for toddlers and older children. So if you think you might be out of town in the near future, wait!
- If your child is sick. When sleep training, we want to make sure we are setting our little ones up for the most success, so doing so while sick would not be helpful.
If you’re still considering whether or not you want to sleep train, or if it’s a good time for your family, this might help.
Common Questions About Sleep Training
- Can I continue breastfeeding and sleep train? YES! I am a breastfeeding mama who nursed both girls over a year and I also love my sleep! We structure babies’ days so that they feed for nourishment rather than for sleep.
- Can I sleep train if my child goes to daycare during the week? YES! Here are some questions to ask your daycare provider to ensure your child gets the best sleep possible while there.
- Can I sleep train if my child has medical complications? Maybe! In cases when a child has an underlying medical concern, I always ask families to confirm with their providers whether or not it’s okay before we go ahead with a plan.
If you’re still wondering if sleep training is a good fit for your family right now, or if you’re ready to jump in, I’d love to chat with you! Hiring a sleep consultant is a big decision, and it’s important to me that we touch base first so we can talk more about your sleep goals and questions, and I can share more about what it looks like to work together. So book a call (free and no strings attached!) and let’s chat!