Answer These Questions Before Diving Deep into Sleep Training
There are two things I can pretty much guarantee you when it comes to teaching your baby to sleep through the night.
It’s going to be a challenge
It’s going to be eminently worth it.
I’ve never worked with a family whose baby went right down on the first night and just magically slept through from then on. Some have slept through the night on night two, most of them start seeing results on night three or four. But I won’t kid you, night one can be a trial.
I’ve also never worked with a family who didn’t feel like they had made a tremendous accomplishment once their baby had learned to sleep through the night. The benefits to the whole family are almost indescribable.
Like many big decisions though, there are times that are ideal and times that are less so. Today, I’d like to offer some tips for deciding whether or not it’s the right time to take this challenging yet rewarding journey.
Is This The Right Time for Sleep Training?
1. Are you going to be around?
Interestingly enough, as we emerge from this ongoing Covid-19 situation, many parents are currently either working from home or not working at all. And What I've found is this presents us with the perfect opportunity to be at home teething your little one how to sleep independently. I usually recommend that at least one parent is able to keep a consistent schedule that works around their baby's nap times for the initial two weeks of sleep training.
If there are any travel plans underway, I don’t advise parents to start sleep training within two weeks of travelling.
2. Is your baby healthy and ready?
The best chance for a quick and effective solution to your baby’s sleep issues is to implement the changes when they’re healthy and thriving. If baby’s dealing with reflux or colic, you’ll want to get that remedied before you start sleep training. Because the first few nights of sleep training will have some fussing and protest, we want to make sure it’s only due to the change in their routine, not because of actual discomfort. So by making sure baby is healthy, it’s much easier to pinpoint the reasons for their fussing.
3. Is your partner on board?
If you’re raising your baby with a partner, it’s important that both of you are committed to the process. This can be a trying ordeal for the first couple of nights and if your partner isn't on the same page, there’s likely going to be conflict where they will try to convince you to give in and resort to whatever “sleep prop” you usually use to get your baby to sleep. So before you get started, make sure you and your partner have both signed on and can rely on one another for support.
4. Can make it through a few nights of lost sleep?
I won’t sugar-coat it. Changing up someone’s sleep habits is almost never met with a lot of enthusiasm for the first night or two. This means nobody’s likely to feel rested until after the first 48 hours when things begin to settle. If you have an important meeting or a major event coming up in the next few days that you need to be in peak condition for, you might want to wait until next weekend to get things underway.
5. Are the symptoms of sleep deprivation starting to show?
Are you starting to feel depressed, moody, forgetful, unmotivated, clumsy, or unfocused? Is your sex drive starting to wane? Have you noticed an increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings?
These are all symptoms of sleep deprivation and they’re no laughing matter. Society tends to make light of the whole, “exhausted new parent” persona, but the more we learn about the health effects of sleep deprivation, the less of a joke it becomes. If you’re sleep-deprived or feel like you’re on the verge, now’s the time to take some action.
6. Is baby's sleep environment ready?
I really do find that putting baby into their ideal sleep environment is the best way to help them learn to sleep independently. Their room should be as dark as you can possibly get it. Put up some blackout blinds or cardboard paper over the windows. It’s not pretty but 100% darkness will really help with daytime naps and reduce early morning wakings. Get rid of any mobiles or light-emitting devices that claim to help baby sleep. I can assure you those gadgets will only work against your every effort of helping baby achieve better sleep. An ideal nursery is flat-out boring. Baby should recognize it as a place to do nothing but sleep, so keep their toys and stuffies in another room.
7. Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment
Although there may never be a perfect time to take the initiative to help your baby sleep through the night, you still have to start somewhere. There’s always going to be something that isn’t exactly ideal. Teething, crawling, rolling over, and other developmental milestones, shouldn’t impede baby’s ability to sleep through the night, and they’re not going to stop popping up until your little one’s about ready to graduate from elementary school.
If you feel like the time is right and you’re ready to get started, let’s get going! Get in touch and we can start putting together a plan for your baby right away. I know it’s a big decision, (it certainly was for me when I first made it with my little one) but the outcome is almost indescribably wonderful for the whole family. I’m ready when you are. Sign up here for your free 15-minute sleep assessment call.