Parents often wonder “how do I know when my child is ready for sleep coaching?” The simple answer to this is most children are ready for formal sleep training at 6 months and older. Knowing this then, the real question parents should ask themselves is “are we ready for sleep coaching?” The overall successfulness of any sleep training process largely depends on the parent(s) being able to do the following:
Be consistent! Those of us with older children can probably relate to a time in the grocery store when you’ve caved to your child’s repeated demands for something sweet in checkout line, only to avoid public humiliation from your child’s meltdown. We all give in every now and then. However, as it is with many things in parenting, consistency is crucial when responding to our children’s behaviors. Doing so helps to create loving boundaries and secure limits for them. Children are always looking to see how far they can push those limits. They may not always like our response but if they can depend on our response to be consistent, every time, they feel a sense of security and can begin to understand what to expect and what is expected of them. The same holds true when sleep training your child. The response you choose to give to your child’s sleep disruptions must be consistent. If not, you are only making it harder for you and your child. The good news is you don’t have to resort to leaving your child to “cry-it-out” as your chosen response. There are gentle, loving methods to support and respond to your child during the sleep training process.
Be patient! Change doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process. Being able to put oneself to sleep is a learned skill. Therefore, it is going to take some time…and patience… for your little one to learn this skill. Knowing you will be able to comfort, support and reassure your child as he/she learns how to put themselves to sleep will help you to stay calm throughout the training process. That being said, there will be moments, especially at 3:00 am, when it would be so much easier to resort back to old habits, or sleep crutches, in order to get your baby back to sleep quickly. Having a support system, such as a spouse, a relative, a friend or someone who can be your supporter during the process will help give you the strength to stay consistent and be patient rather than caving in. With consistency and patience on your side, you will start to see improvement in your child’s sleep habits sooner that you think!
Be a united front! Before beginning the sleep training process, parents need to be on the same page in terms of what their desired goals are for the sleep plan. Know your parenting styles and identify how you can be a support system to each other during the training process. Being consistent in the way you respond to and support your baby during the training process, will create a more successful experience for everyone. For instance, if your desired goal is to have your child sleep in their crib at night, both of you must respond to any night wakenings the same way every time. However, if Dad follows the sleep plan but Mom goes in at 3:00am and gets the baby out of the crib and brings him to bed with her, this sends a confusing message to the child and will only make the sleep training process harder.
Be committed! Along with consistency, patience and being a united front, parents must make the training process a top priority in order to get the most success from their sleep plan. When determining a starting date, it is best to consider your upcoming schedule and choose a time when you have 2-3 weeks to totally commit to training without other commitments or demands. Usually this requires putting other things aside, such as social outings, traveling, and visitors during sleep coaching. However, you won’t have to sacrifice these other activities forever. Once you’re baby is consistently sleeping better after the coaching process is complete, variations in their routines may cause slight setbacks but getting them back on track will likely not take long.
Contact Erin Anderson, The Sleepytime Teacher, for a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to see if you and your baby are ready for sleep coaching.
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