Sleep Training – Why It Can Change Your Life
- What Is Sleep Training?
- Why Would You Use Sleep Training?
- How Does Sleep Training Work?
- When Can You Start Sleep Training?
- What Are Our Views Of Sleep Training?
- How We Can Help You With Our Sleep Training Approach
What Is Sleep Training FOR YOUR BABY OR TODDLER?
Sleep training is the process of helping your baby learn to fall asleep on their own – also known as “self-settle” or “self-soothe” – which will, in turn, help them fall back asleep when they wake during the night (unless they need something such as a cuddle, feeding or nappy change, or are a little poorly). For toddlers, this is often more about the process of setting boundaries around the sleep process as often toddlers know how to get to sleep on their own, they just like to refuse and protest against doing so!
Why Would You Use Sleep Training?
Whilst most baby sleep consultants will look at a child’s sleep holistically, i.e. daytime routine, sleep environment, stimulating activities and a bit of nutrition; sleep training is often a necessary part of changing a child’s sleep patterns, especially when an infant is unable to self-settle. So if your baby is unable to self-settle, sleep training will be the likely solution to changing this and improving the whole family’s sleep.
How Does Sleep Training YOUR BABY Work?
As mentioned, sleep training is the process of helping a baby or toddler learn to settle themselves off to sleep. There are a number of sleep training methods that can help you achieve this:
Cry It Out Method: This method involves parents leaving their child to do all of the self-settle learning on their own. Parents are advised not to respond to their child’s cries whenever they are awake, continuing this until they go to sleep irrespective of how long this takes. Please note we do not believe this to be true sleep training in practice, albeit it is defined as a ‘sleep training’ method.
Ferber Method: This is a similar method to Cry It Out except that parents don’t leave their baby indefinitely on their own, instead responding to their child at set timed intervals. These timed intervals increase until the baby goes to sleep and they increase as the nights go on. Find out more about the Ferber method and how it works in practice here.
Pick-Up/Put-Down Method: This is an attempt at a ‘no-cry’ sleep training method as it involves the parent picking their child up from the crib/cot the moment they cry. Once the child settles and stops crying they are put back into the cot. If they cry, they are picked up again and the process is repeated until they go into their cot and finally fall asleep on their own without being upset.
Sleep Training Fading Method: With this sleep training approach, parents rely on soothing techniques to help their child fall asleep. These include things such as feeding, cuddling, patting, rocking or even singing, with the intention that the child will use these things to fall asleep gently and over time, the parent can begin to reduce – or ‘fading out’ – the need for these soothing techniques and the child will be able to self-settle independently longer-term.
Sleep Training Chair Method: With this method, the parent will sit on a chair – or floor – near the cot or bed until their infant falls asleep. No comfort is provided other than the reassurance of their parent’s presence. Over time, the chair will move further away until eventually the parent leaves the room and the child will settle to their on their own.
More details on how these sleep training methods work, and the pros and cons of each are explained in our Sleep Training Methods article.
When Can You Start Sleep Training?
That is a very personal decision. Some parents – with or without the help of a sleep consultant – begin sleep training around 3 months once babies are a bit stronger and more robust and they are not needing quite as much feeding at night as when they were a newborn. Other parents begin sleep training at 6 months old as this is when many sleep consultants recommend starting sleep training because that’s when babies begin weaning and their view is that this is the time when a baby no longer needs to feed in the night. Finally, other parents do it when they are ready, irrespective of whether their child is 6 months or 3 years old.
At The Daddy Sleep Consultant, we begin sleep training from 5 months, and there are three reasons for this:
- The 4 month sleep regression has usually passed by then. Often the best sleeping baby will be completely disrupted by this sleep regression so we do not see huge value in sleep training at 3 or 4 months and then possibly having to do it again after it has passed.
- We simply think babies are too young before 5 months.
- We do not believe that a baby should necessarily stop feeding at night during sleep training and work with parents on what the right number of feeds should be for their baby. Also, we do not believe that weaning is a good reason to stop a baby’s night feeds because when a baby first starts the weaning process, they aren’t getting many calories – it’s all about tastes, textures and colours – and milk is still the number one source of their nutrition, remaining so until around 9/10 months.
What Are Our Views Of Sleep Training?
Quite simply, sleep training can be life changing. Our eldest was 6 months when we hired a sleep consultant to help us with his sleep. We were broken as a parents and people – physically and emotionally – with the sleep deprivation. Our boy Teddy wasn’t as happy as he should have been because of the poor sleep. He definitely wasn’t taking as much milk as he needed to because he didn’t have the energy to feed efficiently. And clearly he wasn’t developing as well as he could have been. But within a couple of weeks, and with the help of a sleep consultant, our lives had gone 180 degrees. Our little boy was feeding and eating better, he was so happy and we were happier and better parents. We were also more patient partners with one another.
We understand sleep training is difficult; we understand it’s not something every parents wants to do and that’s why we practice gentle sleep training. We also understand there are different methods, a whole host of sleep consultants out there and many conflicting literature – it can be a minefield for parents, especially ones who are sleep deprived. However, our view is that hiring the right sleep consultant can change your life in a way that you will never forget.
How We Can Help You With Our Sleep Training Approach
So who is the right sleep consultant for you? Here are our top things to consider when choosing a sleep consultant:
- The relationship – have you met them in person or virtually? Did you have a good connection? It’s important to hire a sleep consultant you feel you can trust. You are going to place your trust and faith in them to do the right thing for your precious little baby or toddler.
- The price – can you afford it? Do they charge one price initially but then have follow-up costs? What does the cost actually include?
- The support – how much support do they offer? Is it time limited? How will that support work? is it same-day support or will you be getting feedback within 24-48 hours for example?
- The reviews – how many good reviews does the sleep consultant have? Do any of the reviews from clients relate to your situation?
At The Daddy Sleep Consultant we offer an initial 15mins phone or video call to allow us to find out if we can definitely help you. But more importantly, it gives you a chance to see if you want to work with us. Our reviews are excellent – we have over 100 5* rated reviews across Google and Social Media, and we have worked with every family and child scenario you can probably imagine. Would you like to find out more? Get in touch or book that free 15mins call now to discuss our 1:1 sleep package.
© The Mummy & Daddy Sleep Consultant® 2022
Images by Estelle Thompson Photography
Company Name: The Daddy Sleep Consultant Ltd
Company Number: 13226982
2 Lakeview Stables/St. Clere, Sevenoaks TN15 6NL