Sleep training refers to a method used to assist and empower babies and small children in independently falling asleep and maintaining uninterrupted, consolidated sleep, without relying on external assistance such as feeding to sleep, rocking to sleep or perhaps co sleeping.
It involves looking into your baby's current sleep patterns, aligning them with your family's daily lifestyle, and considering your baby's natural biorhythms.
Sleep training is beneficial for families seeking to enhance their child's sleep and daily routines and establish a more organised and predictable daily schedule. It aims to promote healthy consolidated sleep for both your child and the parents or caregivers. It's important to note that sleep training should not be confused with the "Cry it Out" approach, which involves leaving a baby to cry until they fall asleep without any form of attending to their needs. I do not advise this nor do I practise it with the families I work with.
Points to Consider
When you prepare your baby for sleep, there are several factors that can contribute positively to their sleep. These factors include:
A dark room
Maintaining an appropriate room temperature
Sleep associations such as age-appropriate comforters, swaddles, sleep sacks, or pacifiers/a dummy
Paying attention to wake windows (the optimal amount of time your baby should be awake between naps)
Recognising tired cues from your baby
Establishing a wind-down routine before sleep
Considering your child's circadian rhythm (their internal body clock)
Taking into account the homeostatic sleep drive (the need for sleep based on previous wakefulness)
Monitoring food and milk intake
Scheduling regular naps consistently
When working with families, I analyse and address all these elements and more. The timing of these factors is crucial in achieving successful naps, milk feeds, and bedtime routines and in turn a great night’s sleep! Getting them right can lead to a smoother and stress free sleep experience, while overlooking them may result in difficulties falling asleep or interrupted sleep patterns leaving you feel weary, fed up and frustrated and broken from lack of sleep.
The duration to reach your sleep goals with this extremely gentle approach can vary typically ranging from 4-6 weeks or even longer, depending on how well your baby adapts to the changes and how consistent you are.
"No cry" methods involve parents and caregivers to be extremely consistent shush / patting with pick up/put down techniques until your baby falls asleep. Another aspect is gradually transitioning away from co-sleeping while using feeding as a means to soothe the baby at every point of wake up if unsettled.
Who would find this approach suitable?
This approach is often favoured by parents who have been co-sleeping and follow a strong attachment parenting style, wishing to continue co-sleeping or are willing to invest several weeks in making changes. It is particularly beneficial for parents who are highly sensitive and experience negative triggers when their baby cries. This method is most effective for babies aged 5 months and older who show signs of extreme attachment and are not over stimulated by a parent being near at sleep times.
How long does it take? Typically 2-3 weeks
Gradual retreat is an approach whereby you slowly move out of the room over the course of your sleep plan reducing your physical assistance and verbal presence.
A gradual approach can also be Silent returns, The kissing game, Camp out or The invisible string. There are many other aspects that can be weaved into your child sleep when using a gradual approach and depending on the temperament and age of your child would determine the approach most suitable.
Fast Paced/Out the Room Approach
What is it? Spaced times you are out of the bedroom while your baby has the space to fall asleep or Extinction. Extinction is where the baby/child is put to bed and the carer does not return until the end of nap /or the morning.
Who is this suited for?
As with any approach it is crucial you are consistent because if you are not then you are making the process longer and potentially confusing your child. These time frames are from my experience working with families over the last 6 years.
Ready to Reach Out For Support and Guidance?
I am highly experienced, dedicated and compassionate to your families sleep goals and parenting style. I take a holistic approach before I even make your sleep plan because I know it is important to look at the whole picture, not just the sleep training method. Looking at the whole picture will guide me in asking you the right questions and then we together will work out what is the right approach to take.
In my 1-2-1 daily support sleep coaching programs you can achieve the ability to eliminate those frequent night waking’s, need to rely on feeding to sleep, rocking or some form of assistance to get to sleep and inconsistent napping schedule. Instead you and your baby will experience solid, uninterrupted sleep for 11-12 hours a night (with appropriate feedings in required).
You will gain the knowledge and confidence that your baby can and will nap easily, happily and independently without relying on you to help get them to sleep. You don’t get the same attention from a book or google that’s for sure!
If you are looking to make consistent positive changes to your child’s sleep habits then make the first move today and book in your FREE sleep assessment call here and let’s have a chat about your sleep goals!
Listen HERE to past families I have worked with and why they chose to make changes to their child’s sleep challenges.
Peaceful nights to you all,
Your Paediatric Sleep consultant