Why Your Child’s Sleep Training Approach Has to Match Their AgeJul 18, 2022
A one-size-fits-all approach is not always the best answer…
There are many methods, approaches, and perspectives within the world of sleep training. Before we dive into our thoughts and discuss our sleep training approach, let’s actually iron out how we view “sleep training” and what it is.
The term “sleep training” when it was originally defined, was associated with methods such as Cry-It-Out (ie. CIO) and Ferber (gradual check-ins). Some even define sleep training as teaching your child to sleep using non-responsive methods. That is why frequently you will hear that you should wait until at least 4 months to sleep train your child, because those are the common methods that are associated with the term “sleep training.” Utilizing methods like CIO or Ferber are typically not recommended until that age because, developmentally, it would not be appropriate. Or, you may even hear some with the opinion that sleep training is harmful, which it isn’t. (We wrote about it on another blog: “IS SLEEP TRAINING HARMFUL”) No matter the age of your child, whether you have a newborn or a 3 year old, we use responsive methods to sleep train. We do not utilize CIO or Ferber.
But sleep training has greatly evolved! If you are looking to help your child fall asleep independently, within having to rock, bounce, feed, etc. to sleep, know there are more than just two ways to do so! And, with our type of approach, you do not necessarily need to wait until 4+ months-old. At the heart of our approach is the fact that sleep training is a routine that facilitates more sleep independence. Our children are able to innately fall asleep on their own. It is a biological need that we are all born with. When beginning the sleep training process, no matter the age, we want to find:
- Consistent routines
- Age appropriate responsive method that fits not only their developmental stage
- Approach that aligns with your child’s current sleep needs and aligns to their biological or natural rhythms.
By doing so, you, as the parent, are able to set your child up for success and reinforce that innate ability to fall asleep independently. Since we utilize a responsive method that is respectful of developmental age and needs, you can begin to sleep train (using our definition of the word) in the newborn stage!
Now, HOW you reinforce and guide your child to fall asleep independently should match their developmental stage and age.
We have a Trademarked approach that involves fading you out of the way in which your child is falling asleep. With our methods, you, as the caregiver or parent, stay in the room with your child. Over a series of days, NOT WEEKS, we work to be able to lay your child down, say good night, leave the room, and your child successfully to fall asleep. How we teach you how to fade yourself out of the routine of your child going to sleep is truly dependent on their age and development.
When we speak to a newborn family, one thing we always mention is that our recommendations of how to lay the foundation for independent sleep at this age is not the same way we do for say a 6 month-old baby. The main reason: Development.
Cognitively, newborn babies need us to be a bit more responsive, and the responses vary in different ways with older babies and children. They do not have the ability to understand patterns, events, increased motor skills, etc. Similarly, with older babies, such as 10 month-old babies, we need to balance guiding them to fall asleep on their own and being responsive, with their intense awareness of their surroundings and increased sensitivity to stimulation. As a result, the steps of how to fade you out of how a baby that age goes to sleep naturally, will look differently compared to a newborn baby.
Similarly, once a child is a toddler, they truly have developed into their own person, with the ability to make purposeful choices, have opinions, and can communicate with words! The exact method that we use with an infant, unfortunately, begins to be less successful compared to a toddler because there is now an added behavioral layer to teaching independent sleep. Thus, the method has to adapt to the changing developmental needs of the child.
If you are looking for an approach that isn’t one-size fits all, and takes into account your child’s specific needs, we are here to chat and dive deeper into what our approach looks like!
Visit our services, based on age, to learn more about our developmentally appropriate programs!
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