Exploring the World of Sleep Training: 15 Takeaways To Get You Started
The concept of ‘sleep training’ has been around for a very long time. New methods to get your young one to fall asleep and stay asleep are constantly being developed and studied. There is now extensive information available online, in print, and via professionals such as myself.
If you are looking into the world of sleep training for the first time, it can feel extremely overwhelming. When I first started researching sleep training years ago, I began to learn about the resources that were trustworthy. I wanted to test and verify my own knowledge and experience, and stay up to date on information and research that may help my network of families with sleep issues.
There was one question that I wanted to be sure I had answered first – is sleep training safe and effective?
The reason it was important for me to get a definitive answer on this was because I learned through research that one of the traditional approaches to sleep training involves the ‘cry it out’ method. I have come to believe this is not the ideal way of training your child to sleep. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is a source I have come to know deeply and trust, sleep training comes in many forms, and is absolutely safe, especially when guided by a professional. Hence began my deep dive into the vast ocean of information of infant and toddler sleep.
Once I was confident that sleep training was safe, my first goal was to help the families I currently worked with on a daily basis, and also to generally educate as many families as possible. Having been a professional nanny for over a decade, I am not just in awe of how many families are living different lifestyles, with different parenting philosophies, raising unique children with varying temperaments and unique personalities. The complex experiences of these families could not possibly be summed up throughout a generic sleep-training book.
To give you an idea of the basics of sleep training, here are some takeaways based upon my experience and research into this expanding specialty:
- Most infants and toddlers respond well to sleep training, however it is not for all families.
- Sleep associations (defined as anything that helps your child sleep) can be both helpful and harmful, depending on how they are used.
- Awake time matters and it changes with age and development.
- Sleep regressions are common and incredibly disruptive if you don’t know how to get through them.
- Infants and toddlers do not like change and will resist even if it is in their best interest.
- Routines are important and can be somewhat flexible once independent sleep is established and parents are properly educated to understand how to balance that flexibility.
- Sometimes the smallest adjustment in a parent’s blind spot can make all the difference. For example: the order in which you complete nap and bedtime routines can be critical.
- Crying is communication and your child is allowed to be frustrated. Sleep training is giving your child opportunities to learn how to do something they’ve never done.
- Sleep is emotional regulation and with insufficient sleep both adults and children have a harder time regulating emotions.
- Total number of hours of sleep children should be getting within a 24 hour period changes as children age.
- Over the age of 3 months, naps over 2 hours will take away from your child’s night sleep.
- Sound machines are incredibly helpful when you know which ones are safe for your child’s ears. Above 85 decibels when left on for a lengthy time can harm your child’s hearing. Aim for around 65 decibels.
- Darkness is your friend – the room should be pitch black to help your child produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Children pick up on parental nervous energy – do your best to keep calm and know it won’t be like this forever.
- Reach out for help if you feel it may benefit your new family – tailored support, direction and education can make all the difference and be crucial to your success.
If you are reading this and in the early stages of exploring sleep training, I believe that you will feel more and more empowered as you educate yourself on the practice of sleep training, and may benefit from implementing a personalized process to help your new family.
New Family Sleep Solutions empowers new families by helping to introduce healthier sleep habits. We provide a holistic and evidence based approach to settling your child and improving sleep. New Family Sleep Solutions prides itself on using gentle methods to change any ‘habit’ gradually, with love and when you and your baby are ready!
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