by Eve Castelo Branco, Lullaby Sleep Consultant for Children
Whoever thought the simple act of sleeping would require any training? For infants, sleep training is an important part of their journey to be healthy and happy — and you’ll never regret it.
Sleep training utilizes specific methods with the end goal of removing the sleep crutches so the baby is able to self-soothe and fall asleep, unassisted. Examples of sleep crutches are: the baby requires nursing, rocking, or a walk to sleep, or requires a pacifier (not a sleep crutch in all cases), etc.
Parents who contact me usually ask the following questions (perhaps you can relate):
• When can I start sleep-training my baby?
• Is the timing right?
• Am I ready to focus and commit to the program?
• Is my baby healthy?
• What about our family dynamic?
(They might be going through major life changes, such as a move, a death, or a divorce).
Let’s review some of these questions and find out if you’re ready to sleep-coach your little one!
When Can I Start?
You can start gradually laying the groundwork for your child’s healthy sleep habits as early as 2 weeks old. We wouldn’t sleep coach a newborn as he or she needs to eat every 2-3 hours and sleep most of the time.
But we can definitely create a good base for them to develop good sleep hygiene, lasting for years to come.
The ideal age to sleep coach a child is 4 months and older. At that age, most babies have the ability to sleep longer at night and their sleep is more organized.
Is the Timing Right?
Is my family going through any major changes?
It might not be an ideal time to sleep train a child when the family is busy with work, going through a divorce, moving, job loss, about to go on vacation, or if the baby has a new caregiver or is about to go into day care. All these changes might affect the family dynamic, thwarting the positive impact of the sleep training program.
Is My Baby Healthy?
Development milestones and illnesses like an ear infection, or when the child is teething may make it difficult for your baby to sleep through the night. I strongly recommend holding off on sleep training until the child feels better. When in doubt, ask your pediatrician.
Am I Ready to Commit to Sleep Training?
Consider how much time you’re willing to devote to the process and what your expectations are about how long it will take. Some parents get frustrated early into the program because they aren’t seeing quick results. Changing sleeping habits is not something that will happen overnight. It requires consistency, patience and time. Sometimes, it can take as little as 3-4 days. In other cases, it might take 1-2 weeks. Keep in mind, the longer the child has had the sleeping habit, the longer it will take to change it.
I hope this has helped you decide whether you are ready to start sleep training. Trust your instincts on this journey – they will take you far!
Sleeping Babies = Happy Families
by Eve Castelo Branco
Lullaby Sleep Consultant for Children
Eve Castelo Branco is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach© and founding owner of Lullaby Sleep Consultant for Children. She is dedicated to helping parents to develop healthy sleeping habits with their children and babies.