According to Wikipedia, “infant sleep training refers to a number of different regimens parents employ to adjust their child’s sleep behaviors.”
Two words that conjure up such mixed emotions from one mom to the next. I often wonder why that is.
Is it because we think that if a certain strategy worked for our child, then it MUST work for everyone else’s child (if only they’d just do it right)? Or maybe it’s because there are so many different techniques with one being the total opposite strategy from the next. Or is it simply because we’re dealing with a lot of hormonal, sleep deprived, defensive moms? Nah, that can’t be it.
On the contrary, I assert that the vast majority of the fevered emotion surrounding “sleep training” arises from the misunderstood and often misused cry-it-out (CIO) method (commonly known as “Ferberizing” or the Baby Wise method).
Whether you call it “sleep training,” “sleep teaching,” sleep coaching” or “sleep guiding” – it’s a matter of semantics. As with anything else we parents do with our children, we’re simply trying to affect long-term behavior in a positive (or at least what we deem positive) way. We “train” our children to walk, to talk, to dance, to have good manners, to recite their ABCs.
What’s so wrong with training them to sleep well?
In my mind, sleep training isn’t as much about how quickly you can get your child to sleep through the night, but more importantly, it’s about developing long-term, healthy sleep habits. You know – like the tortoise and the hare. Despite our push to be like the hare, this is actually the time to strive to be more like the slow-moving, intentional tortoise.
So why the emphasis on long-term, healthy sleep habits?
A recent study came out confirming the many benefits of a consistent bedtime routine and a good night’s sleep in children. Not only is this of utmost importance when it comes to healthy brain development in children (we can all agree that we want that, can’t we?) but it also equates to a happier family over all. Not many people would argue against the fact that well-rested parents are better parents – more patient, more in touch with their children’s needs and certainly more confident in their parenting abilities.
So what works for our family?
With all three of our boys, we use(d) a hybrid approach of Gary Ezzo’s On Becoming Baby Wise and Suzy Giordano’s The Baby Sleep Solution.
Six pointers I can offer no matter which method (or non-method) you choose:
- a daily schedule that baby can rely on is crucial to a good night’s sleep.
- just as energy begets energy, sleep begets sleep, so skipping naps does NOT help baby sleep longer at night.
- in order to make it the whole night with no feeding, they must be able to take in enough sustenance during the day – according to Suzy, that’s at least 24 oz. of breast milk or formula.
- consistent bedtime routine at an early enough time to eventually allow baby to sleep 12 hours. Bedtime should start anywhere from 7-9pm. If anyone tries to tell you to “keep him up late so he’ll sleep longer,” just smile, politely nod and relish in the fact that you know much better than to do that!
- remember that their lightest sleep is from 4-6am (so if restlessness occurs during this time, resist the urge to run to your baby’s rescue right away)
- my personal favorite – being old enough (with enough mobility and head control) to sleep on their tummies was a game changer for one of our twins.
If you haven’t seen the memo, Dallas Moms Blog is devoting this week to all-things sleep.
Rather than seek out the content that you disagree with, my challenge to you is to read through these posts with an open mind with the intention of possibly taking away a sliver of good advice or even just a glimmer of hope that a full night’s sleep IS in your near future.
And if you’re re-reading the title of this post and wondering to yourself, “so what’s the ONE sleep solution that works for every child,” then here it is – patience, patience, oh and more patience.
Now that you’ve read what worked for us, are you willing to share those golden bits of advice that brought coveted sleep back into your home?
What works/worked best for you and your sleeping littles?
Does your child have a bedtime habits you’re not sure how to break? Are you ready to make a change in your child’s sleep routine?
Owner Visa Shanmugam of Sound Sleepers will give you a clear, easy-to-follow plan that will teach your child the skills necessary to happily sleep through the night (and take long, restful naps during the day).
Visa has been personally trained by Dana Obleman, the creator of The Sleep Sense™ Program, whose methods have been used worldwide by more than 30,000 families to solve their children’s sleep problems. She offers one-on-one sessions and group seminars for parents, and is available to lead workshops at drop-in groups or for public appearances.
Contact Visa Shanmugam today for a FREE 15-minute telephone consultation!
Call (214-785-1943) or send an e-mail to [email protected]
**Sound Sleepers has sponsored a portion of Dallas Moms Blog’s “Mamas, Rest Easy” Sleep Series; however, they have not sponsored the content. Michelle has not used the services of Sound Sleepers. All opinions and writing in this post are 100% original to the contributor.