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What is Sleep Training?

I want to give a brief overview of what sleep training actually is as the more parents I speak to, the more I realise everyone has a different interpretation. I was always conscious of the word “training”. It felt, or perhaps to me sounded quite harsh, especially when using it in context with our really little littles! “Training” a newborn? What does that entail was my first thought. They are so tiny, they need cuddles and love not training, right!

Sleep training is the process of helping a baby or child learn to get to sleep by him or herself and stay asleep through the night.

Some babies and children do this quickly and easily however there is a large majority that have trouble settling down to sleep – or getting back to sleep when they have wakened and they need help along the way. One of the main reasons babies wont sleep is because they have developed sleep props over the first part of their lives. Sleep props refer to ways babies have learned to fall asleep using assistance instead of by developing their own internal skills. These may include:

  • Feeding to sleep
  • Being rocked to sleep
  • Co-sleeping
  • Pacifiers/Dummies

There are more but you get the picture. Your baby has learned to fall asleep using a certain external method. You may not even realise this is what was happening. It is not until these methods no longer work and your child (and probably you as well) are losing sleep that you start to look for easy fixes. If you are reading this, then you have probably read a few books yourself and tried a few different things. Most books and programs dealing with child sleep issues take philosophical stands based largely around the crying it out method. Your child's sleep is far more important than my personal views on the subject and I know sleep sense accommodates different childs temperaments and parenting styles and gives your little one the unique plan they deserve. Bottom line, you the parent need to be comfortable with the plan in order for it to work for your child.

Why Sleep Train your child?

I don’t need to tell you sleep is essential for your baby’s health and development. We all need sleep to function.  The sleep sense method was created out of a strong belief that healthy sleep habits make for healthy children. As there is junk food – there is also junk sleep!  A well-rested child is curious, energetic, happy, playful and eager to learn.

Baby sleep problems have been linked to emotional and behavioural problems, accidental injuries and general irritability in babies. Uninterrupted sleep is so important for both you and your baby.

It is necessary we realise and understand that babies do not have the ability to organise their own days and nights into predictable rhythms, BUT they do have biological needs to do so. That is why parents must take the lead and create structure and routine for their children and for themselves when it comes to sleep.

If you’re looking to do any of the below or all, I can help:

  • Move from co-sleeping to own cot/bed
  • Implementing an appropriate bedtime and accompanying routine
  • Teaching your baby to sleep without the need of rocking or feeding
  • Encouraging your baby to sleep through the night and to stop night feeding – at the right time
  • Putting in place appropriate day time naps, extending nap times and appropriate feeding/meal schedule
  • Deciding when it is time for dropping a nap - Smooth transition without disruption to night sleep or visa versa
  • Resolving problems in older children including night waking, poor routines and early waking

Just a few of the advantages are:

  • A happier, lighter mood in your baby
  • Less fussiness and irritability
  • Improvement in appetite
  • More quality time with your baby due to your own improved mood and energy levels

When your baby has sleep problems, it affects you as well – maternal depression, stress and marital discord are associated so it makes sense to take action now.

Nobody plans to have a sleep problem but habits can become easily ingrained and spiral quickly out of control and you can find yourself sleep deprived, desperate and not sure what to do.

How does the Training process work?

When parents hear about infant sleep training they often think of babies and children left alone in their rooms to cry themselves to sleep. I know I did. This is NOT my approach.

My approach to helping and improving your child’s sleep is simple.

  1. I will study your childs sleep patterns, daily routine and habits. From this information I create a plan that respects your familys sleep goals and your childs unique personality and temperament.
  2. I will give you honest information about why sleep is so important for your childs well being and support building the motivation you need to make the changes to your childs sleep habits
  3. I will support you to read your babies/childs need accurately
  4. I will lay out an easy to follow, step by step bespoke plan that lets you make some of the choices on what is right for YOUR child. They are all different and you know your child best – together we will customise a plan that suits.
  5. I will give you the confidence that the choices we make are right for your child and without trauma
  6. I will help you to measure success – Let’s be real. It is rare to learn a new skill right away so it is not realistic to expect them to sleep 12 hours straight the first night (although it has happened). It is however a very realistic and achievable goal and I will help you with what to expect along the way.
  7. I will be by your side to offer knowledge and support throughout the entire sleep training process.

Do I have to make my Child “Cry it out”?

Does my program involve crying it out – A valid question I get asked all the time and so I think it’s something that deserves to be addressed here.

A big fear and it was mine also – we do everything we can to protect our littles and their environment so we surely don’t want to hear them cry.

Let me just say crying is your little ones way of protesting change. It is how they communicate on the most part until words can be used and emotions understood. You can expect that making changes to their sleep habits will result in some protest. I think if we are really honest if we were used to having something one way for a period of time and that changes we also would do a little protesting ourselves, only as adults we can show these emotions in other ways than crying. This is why I always tell parents that my program will most liking involve at least some amount of protest on the childs part.

Please understand that I will never ask you to leave your child to cry alone nor will I ask you to ignore their cries. The reason that Sleep Sense™ program is so effective is that it allows me to develop a plan that you feel comfortable with based on what you know about your child.

If you do have any questions about the Sleep Sense™ methods please just ask,  I am a mother with a heart who cares and has been where you are. I am happy to answer them and happier to ensure you are comfortable with what we will be doing together.