When parents hear the words “sleep training,” their first reaction is typically to cringe. They’ve all heard the stories: the days of enduring hours upon hours of screaming followed by perfect sleep, or the ones about the parents who still haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep after more than a year of sleep training, and even the tales of those seemingly mythical children who have no sleep troubles at all and just start sleeping through the night without fuss at only a few months old. “What will our fate be?” new parents often wonder. “And if we aren’t the lucky parents of a ‘unicorn’ and have to actively do something about sleep, how awful will it be? Should we even bother or can we just adjust to life without sleep?”
Parents all want their children to be healthy and happy. Sleep is critical to good health: it facilitates physical, cognitive, and social development, as well as the mood of children. It’s the parents’ job to teach their kids healthy sleep habits and hygiene. And children need healthy, well-rested parents to care for them, too! So yes, it is worth the struggle through some type of sleep training to ensure that your child develops a skill she will rely on for her entire life. And no matter what your parenting style, there is a way to teach your children the importance of sleep and how to sleep well.
Many parents do not really understand what sleep training is. At its core, regardless of which method you are considering, all sleep training techniques are fundamentally about helping your child develop the self-soothing skills he needs in order to transition between sleep cycles and eventually be able to sleep for long stretches or through the night.
Sleep training is NOT:
- A specific method or technique.
- Harmful to your child if done correctly.
- Appropriate for newborns or very young infants.
- Something you should do without the ok of your pediatrician.
- Neglecting your baby.
- Without crying.
Sleep training IS:
- Teaching your baby how to soothe himself back to sleep independently.
- Appropriate for babies typically 6 months or older.
- A process that takes varying amounts of time depending on method, parental consistency, and baby’s temperament.
- Consistently applying the best teaching technique for your family.
- Practiced during the day and at night.
- Built upon strong foundations for healthy sleep.
You have most likely heard of some of the many different sleep training techniques. Hundreds of books have been written and dozens of classes have been taught on the subject. Parents often ask which method is most recommended. The answer often surprises people: “Whichever method you can use consistently over a long period of time.”
About Our Guest Authors
Debbie Sasson is a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, the co-founder of Sleep Sisters, and has a doctorate in clinical psychology. She is experienced in a broad range of methods and techniques, and works with each individual family to find an approach that suits their unique style and needs. All of her sleep work is informed by her knowledge about brain development, emotional development and family relationships. Debbie sees clients in person throughout the Philadelphia area and by phone/video around the world. She also speaks to groups and teaches seminars. Learn more about Sleep Sisters and book a consultation at www.sleepsisters.com
Melissa Zdrodowski is a Certified Maternity and Child Sleep Consultant and the co-founder of Sleep Sisters. Melissa has been helping families improve their sleep for over three years. She is experienced in a broad range of methods and techniques, and works with each individual family to find an approach that suits their unique style and needs. Melissa understands how challenging everything feels when the family isn’t getting enough sleep, so she provides sisterly support to help caregivers make difficult changes. Melissa lives in Woodside, CA with her husband and two children. She sees clients in person throughout the Bay Area and by phone/video around the world. She also speaks to groups and teaches seminars. Learn more about Sleep Sisters and book a consultation at www.sleepsisters.com.