This is a question I am always asked when a parent contacts me about getting some sleep help. Parents are worried to start getting into a routine and not be flexible anymore, worry that they have to be home for naps and to have their baby sleep in their cot. This is not the case. And even if it was, would you really swap that over your current sleep deprivation situation? Let’s weigh up the prospects and the why you are even considering to sleep train…
Why Sleep Train?
You are choosing to sleep train your baby because your current sleep situation perhaps is just not sustainable any more, perhaps you are all up every 2 hours in the night or you are bed sharing and being kicked and used as a dummy every hour and you cannot sleep yourself. Perhaps you know your baby needs more sleep, needs to nap more in the day and you are choosing to help her achieve this. Whatever the reason for sleep training know that your child and family is going to benefit from it. Once you have reached your sleep goals you will all be happier and healthier for it.
How Is Sleep Training Going To Affect Your Daily Life?
Of course this sleep deprivation your baby and family are experiencing is going to affect your daily life. Once you are all getting more sleep this is going to give your baby more energy and be noticeably happier during the day. You will also have more energy to conquer the day ahead, waking feeling refreshed after a full night’s sleep can only be a positive thing right!
Your baby’s immune system will also benefit greatly from getting better quality sleep. It will be stronger and able to fight of those nasties more easily than if the body is tired and run down. Brain and physical development will also benefit greatly.
The actual part of the sleep training, yes, that may affect your current daily life. You are going to be changing patterns and working on your child’s sleep. If your child is used to going to sleep in the pram round and round the park every day you may start to practice some naps in the house so you may not be outdoors so much.
Your baby will become accustomed to where they fall asleep during sleep training. Their circadian rhythm will get in sync with the new schedule, feeding pattern, routine you will adopt. Your baby’s circadian rhythm will benefit greatly from this and you will see sleep patterns becoming more regulated and predictable and of course easier!
You will be able to plan your days with more ease and know when nap time will be rather than second guessing if your baby will nap and thinking you need to get them to nap before an appointment for example.
If you are very much a “go with the flow” parent you may find sleep training and adopting new routines hard so really tap into what your sleep goals really are.
I have supported many families with sleep training and most will say “yes, they like to have structure but also flexibility to be able to go out and change daily life when needed”.
Having A Routine Does Not Mean You Are Stuck To It Forever
Once you have reached your sleep goals after sleep training, however long that may take, perhaps 2, 3, 4 weeks or more, your baby will have established a great circadian rhythm and is sleeping independent of needing you to help them, you can start to be more flexible. You can play about with the routine a little. Take a nap on the go perhaps or tweak the timing of those naps when you go off on a day trip!
What I will say is once a routine has been established for a good number of weeks your baby’s circadian rhythm will be synced to those times. Those times work perfectly and you may even have noticed cues from your baby, that yawn and rubbing of the eyes, check in the time and yup, its nap time! Perhaps they are getting a little grouchy, check the time and you notice the day has run away with you and it is dinner time already!
This is not to say you can’t switch things up a little, a longer nap in the morning may help if you have plans to go out to friends for lunch or offering a bigger snack because you know dinner time will be a little later tonight.
Equally your baby’s temperament and personality will drive a lot of this. They may thrive on a routine and it just works for them so well, switching things up they may struggle with that, equally more go with the flow parents find their baby is more flexible and find it easy to play about with routine on the odd days here and there!
Sleep training benefits all parties. Sleep training will not make your baby inflexible, you just need to know how to tweak the day here and there and prepare for exciting events in your diary! CLICK HERE to read how other families have benefited from sleep training and handling their new found fresh days!
Peaceful nights to you all,
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant