It isn’t unusual to have a few concerns or questions about the process of sleep training. It is a big task to undertake, so it is important to feel ready and equipped with all the information you need before you start. I’ve written this article to cover some of the most common sleep training questions I see and hear.
How long will sleep training take?
This common sleep training question can’t be definitively answered without knowing the unique circumstances surrounding your particular child and their sleep issues. It is also dependent on the method you choose to address your child’s sleep issues; some methods are quicker than others. Think of it this way though, if the sleep issues have been going on for months, then they aren’t likely to be fixed in just a few days. In saying all that if you decide on a sleep plan either with a sleep consultant, or on your own, and are consistent with it, you should start to see improvements quickly but it might take a bit of time to get to 100% better. If you aren’t seeing improvements, this is where a sleep consultant can be really helpful, so you can determine why and get customized help.
When should I start sleep training?
It is never too early to start teaching healthy sleep habits. You can start to put your baby down drowsy but awake, to give opportunities to try and self soothe as early as 6 weeks old. However, if you are considering proper sleep training like CIO or other more gradual methods, then you should wait until your baby is at least 4 months of age. When I say 4 months; I mean 4 months from their due date. For preemie babies, I would not suggest sleep training until they would have been 4 months, if they were born on time. As a sleep consultant, the youngest client I would take on is 4 months too.
If your baby is over that 4 months of age mark then you can start whenever you feel ready. I do however suggest you make sure you have at least 2 weeks free without any big event, holiday or class that is going to disrupt the process. You want to be able to be at home at nap time and bedtime every day to concentrate on helping improve your little one’s sleep. Don’t hesitate to get out and about outside of those times though. Sunlight and socialization are important too!
How do I sleep train twins or multiples?
You can absolutely sleep train all children at the same time. If they are in the same room at bedtime and naptime they will get used to each other’s noises and cries. You can even use a sound machine to help drown out some of the noises, but keep it on the lowest setting. Some parents find it easier to put their little ones into separate rooms for nap times. This is an option but not a must-do.
If they are in different rooms you can still sleep train at the same time, you just might need to have one parent handling one child each.
How do I sleep train with other siblings in the room or house?
It is more likely to be disruptive if you are sleep training a baby and there is an older sibling in the house, not the other way around. Toddlers getting out of bed multiple times a night, as an example, will only likely be disruptive if they share a room. If they do share, just move the baby into your room until things settle down.
If you are sleep training your baby, you can talk to the older sibling about what is happening, so they’re aware of why there is some crying and noise and even get them involved in the process where possible. If they are room sharing, you can move them out for the few weeks of sleep training and then move them back into the bedroom when sleep is more settled.
Does my baby have to cry?
I wish I could tell you differently, but crying will be part of the sleep training process. Crying is your baby’s form of communication. When you start to do things differently through the sleep training process they will likely cry as a way of saying: “mommy and daddy, I’m not used to this”. Babies will protest when they are learning a new skill, it is their way of working through it. From experience, I can say that my babies continued to do a little protest cry when I put them into the crib until they learned to speak and then they progressed to talking to themselves or singing.
I can tell you that the crying won’t harm your baby. Your baby knows you love them so very much as you show them a million times a day with all the cuddles, attention and playing you do. Your baby will wake up the next day feeling as happy and attached to you as they did the day before.
How do I pick a sleep consultant?
There are so many sleep consultants out there and it can be difficult to know whom to choose. Looking at reviews on sleep consultant’s websites and Facebook pages are important and asking friends or family who they used will help too. But there are also other things to look out for too. Check to see if your potential sleep consultant is certified through a reputable child sleep consultancy course. Are they taught about the science of sleep, sleep needs for babies and children, medical issues and a variety of methods? Your child’s sleep situation is unique and you want your sleep consultant to be able to tailor a sleep plan to fit your child and family situation. You don’t want a one size fits all sort of approach.
Lastly, make use of a free get acquainted call if your potential sleep consultant offers one. This is a great way to get to know the person you are considering and see if you will be a good fit and to ask any questions about their approach and the packages they provide before pulling the trigger.
My main goal is to help as many families as I can get the sleep they need!