Any time you ‘google’ sleep training on the internet, there are many different methods, examples, and opinions…OH, THE OPINIONS. Trying to find a simple answer to “how do I sleep train my child?” suddenly becomes overwhelming and confusing. So, here it is, the Rested Mama, Happy Baby approach to sleep success.
Did you notice I didn’t say ‘sleep training?’
Let’s start there!
Would it be a surprise to you if I told you that sleep training was not synonymous with having a child sleep through the night? When we talk about sleep success, at least here at Rested Mama, Happy Baby, we define it as so:
- The child is taking predictable naps
- The child is taking longer naps when developmentally appropriate!
- The child can fall asleep on their own, from awake at naps and bedtime
- The child can sleep longer stretches, consistently, and when developmentally appropriate, through the night!
- The child is not crying at the onset of bedtime and is truly HAPPY…
When we envision success with our families, the end goal is to be able to have a bedtime routine the family enjoys, being able to put their child in their crib, cot, or bed, and say good night with the confidence that their child is going to fall asleep, within 10-15 minutes, happily in their crib, sometime around 7 pm and sleep for a LONG stretch, if not till 6-7 am!
With this vision, it seems crazy to think that only sleep training can do that, and this is where there is sometimes a disconnect to sleep training success or sleep success. I can’t tell you how much it breaks my heart to hear families in mommy groups post they are day 10 of Ferber, or even day 20! If you have a holistic approach to understanding sleep, sleep training should be a comfortable 3-ish day. Sleep training only provides the opportunity for children to learn they CAN fall asleep on their own from awake, without any sleep props such as feeding, parental presence, pacifier, etc. It does not guarantee that you will have a child who will sleep through the night or magically have longer naps. Don’t get us wrong; it is a HUGE part of being able to sleep better because having the skill to be fully aware of your surroundings at the onset of bedtime and fall asleep on your own allows for a repeat of those skills at the end of the next sleep cycle.
Because guess what? WE ALL wake multiple times at night at our lightest phases of sleep cycles. So being aware and unsurprised about your surroundings when you are between sleep cycles means you can fall back asleep with less fight.
Now, if your child is overtired, under tired, has an imbalance of sleep pressure, independent sleep does not fix that. Only having a solid routine and understanding your child’s foundation of seep gets you to that goal!
So if you are looking for SLEEP success, rather than just sleep train, here are our top tips:
- Understand your sleep goals! This is a big one…what are your sleep goals? Are they just more predictable naps? Are you looking to be able to have your child fall asleep on their own? Are you looking for more sleep at night, or are you willing to have a couple of wakings? This will drive your sleep plan and HOW you sleep train.
- Make sure your child is developmentally ready! Formal sleep training does require some milestones, or efforts are loss. I you have a newborn, laying foundations like the ones we have in our newborn course can help avoid formal sleep training!
- Focus on your nap schedule FIRST. Building the proper sleep pressure for your child is essential to having the new routine and better sleep align naturally to their biological rhythms.
- Find the proper sleep training method that works for your baby and their temperament. Although there are many flavors online, pick one that feels right for what you think your child will respond to at the end of the day. For example, we use our Association fading method, which allows for a gradual fade of sleep associations across two weeks, modified based on the child.
- For consistency, nap train the day after sleep training nights! This allows for the least amount of tears (because the skill is fresh in their minds) and helps get your child on a good solid schedule.
We are here when you need us. Sleep training doesn’t have to be complicated. But, it can be a significant step forward to getting you the sleep you and your family need.
And if you need more help, our courses might just be what you need to crack the code of sleep.
Rested Mama, Happy Baby Founder
I'm your certified pediatric sleep coach and new parent educator, Mica Deshaw. I help families on their journey to establish healthy sleep habits and get the whole family sleeping again, working with children ages 0-4 years old.
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