What is Sleep Training?
Did you know that there are dozens of different sleep training methods?
The term “sleep training” often gets confused with a single method called “Cry It Out."
In reality, there are many different methods that can be used for the same goal: teaching independent sleep for quality rest for the whole family.
And they don’t all include tears!
Why Babies Wake
No one sleeps solidly throughout the night without waking; we all have sleep cycles with periods of wakefulness in between! As adults, we don't realize this because we have the skills to seamlessly fall back asleep; we don't consciously remember that we have woken up to turn over or to let out a cough.
Babies are not born with this skill! A normal sleep cycle for a baby can range from 30-60 minutes, and waking is common as your baby transitions between sleep cycles. A baby who has not been taught independent sleep skills will look around for what initially put them to sleep, such as nursing, rocking, or even a parent's gentle hand on their chest.
As such, allowing your baby to fall asleep without your help (by putting them to bed drowsy but awake) helps them learn to put themselves back to sleep without your help.
Teaching this skill will enable baby to have solid stretches of sleep even in the most difficult times, like early morning hours or during naps when melatonin production is down and sleep is lighter.
What Method is Right for You?
As I mentioned, there are so many ways to go about teaching this skill. It’s important to find a method you’re comfortable with so you’re able to be consistent – this is most important part!
And while some parents may fear that sleep training is scary or unkind toward their infant, it is absolutely possible to help your baby sleep in a way that feels loving and comforting to both you and your baby. Working with a sleep consultant can help you find the perfect fit!
There are other actions you can take to set the stage for a good night's sleep and to ensure the process of sleep training runs as smoothly as possible. I tell my clients it’s like starting a diet with a refrigerator full of veggies rather than a chocolate cake! You can set your baby up for success by:
- Ensuring baby gets full feeds every 3 hours – get those ounces needed in during the day so they aren’t needed as much at night!
- Ensuring baby gets the proper amount of daytime sleep for their age – this ensures baby isn’t going down for the night overly tired, which can cause restless sleep.
- Maintaining proper wake windows – we want to make sure baby is getting enough wake-time in during the day but not too much. If you try laying baby down awake once overly tired, it will be very hard for them to fall asleep independently as adrenaline and cortisol can kick-in, keeping them up.
- Having an ideal sleep environment – I recommend a very dark room (SlumberPod can be very helpful here!), white noise, and an empty crib or bassinet.
Be patient with the process! It can be very up and down in the beginning, but will all even out and you and your baby will get the sleep you need to thrive!
Jess is a certified pediatric sleep consultant with SleepShop who has a passion for helping families create a happy & healthy home through sleep.
As the mom of three children, Jessica quickly learned the importance of good sleep for the health of her babies, her own health and her marriage. Jessica loves getting to know families and putting together a plan that fits their needs. Her knowledge reaches far beyond just sleep training and she looks forward to sharing it with others. Follow along on Instagram here!
Note: Guest blog posts are shared for informational and educational purposes and may not reflect the official policy or position of SlumberPod (parent company, Dovetail Essentials, LLC), our employees and/or contractors.