Sleep Coach’s Corner: Why Sleep Training Doesn’t Always Work On Your Own

I haven’t done the math to give you a precise percentage, but I can – with confidence – tell you that the vast majority of parents who contact me for help have already tried some form of baby sleep training on their own. They’ve gathered advice from friends and family, scoured the internet, poured over books – and yet nothing they’ve tried has worked. With miscellaneous tips and tricks – and no solid, straightforward plan – it’s not surprising that sleep training efforts fail. Today I’m talking about why sleep training doesn’t always work when you try to do it independently. 

Inconsistent training

The first hurdle I often see is that many of my parents give up too soon when it comes to sleep training their little one. They may have excellent advice from a book or family member; they just don’t stick it out. I’m going to lay it out straight for you – it typically takes two to four weeks for a tiny human to adapt to change. Now, before you start thinking all hope is lost, let’s put things into perspective.

How long have you been dealing with sleepless nights? Be honest here. When exhausted parents reach out to me for help, they’ve been dealing with broken sleep or split nights for at least as long as it takes to form a habit. The good news is that many of the families I work with will see results within a week, and often within two weeks. Many babies just need some nudging – and a consistent routine and schedule – to learn healthy sleep habits.

Not going all-in

I get it – by the time parents consider baby sleep training, they’re exhausted and overwhelmed. And with so much ‘noise’ out there about sleep training a baby, it’s understandable when parents are tentative with their approach. You have got to be committed to sleep training, or the likelihood of failure is high.

Being fully committed to the process means setting a routine and sticking to it; it also means you go all-in. Many families want to dip their toes into sleep training by focusing on just their baby’s naps. I’ve got news for you – if your baby isn’t napping well – or napping at all – it’s because of their nighttime sleep. You have to work on all sleep, not just individual parts. However, the easy part is that once you figure out your routine, it will be the same (sans bath) for both naps and nighttime.

No support

In the words of John Donne, “No man is an island.” When it comes to sleep training, it’s difficult to commit yourself to a routine if your partner isn’t on board. And it’s tough for me to work with families where the partners disagree about sleep training or aren’t both willing to commit to a routine. I’ll put it this way – if there isn’t ‘buy-in’ with both partners, sleep training has a high likelihood of failing. 

The support area is also part of my role in this process. I believe in sleep training, and I’ve got almost ten years of experience working with babies and toddlers. While I’m a Philadelphia area sleep consultant, I work with many families across the globe when they don’t have a sleep consultant in their area. In fact, I’ve been conducting virtual appointments for years, so the pandemic didn’t derail my coaching when it forced people to go virtual.

If you’re struggling with sleep training, please give me a call. I’m happy to help your family – schedule your complimentary 15-minute phone consultation today!

Sleep Coach’s Corner: Sleep Training and Vomiting

If that title didn’t grab your attention, then I don’t know what will! Vomiting is one of those parenting experiences that nothing can really prepare you for. It’s scary and often distressing for everyone. And if you’re in the middle of sleep training, it can be stressful to know how to navigate it. Let’s take a look at how to handle things when your baby throws up during sleep training.

Why it happens

Intense crying and even coughing can trigger a baby’s gag reflex, causing them to vomit. When a baby is allowed to cry longer than usual, their increased mucus production can also contribute to triggering the gag reflex. I will note here that the Sleep Sense™ program that I use is not a “cry it out” sleep training program. The goal of sleep training is not to create additional stress for a tired family.

The simple way of explaining why some babies vomit during sleep training is that babies cry to communicate. Without language, their only method of communicating is through crying. When you change from rocking your baby to bed to calmly putting them into their crib, they’re confused, and they’ll let you know. As you remain firm in putting your baby to bed without rocking them to sleep (or feeding them to sleep), your baby will communicate their confusion through crying. This increased crying – whether in intensity or in the length of time – often triggers a baby’s gag reflex, resulting in them throwing up. 

Preparation is key

If you don’t do this already, now’s a great time to start; double or triple sheet your baby’s mattress with protective barriers in-between. This is great for nighttime diaper leaks as well, as it allows you to quickly and quietly strip the soiled sheet and get your baby back to bed. I also suggest having a change of clothing set out before bed or naptime, in addition to wipes for cleaning up, in the event a change is needed. 

Sleep training and vomiting: what to do

Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to discuss what to do when your baby vomits during sleep training. The first thing you need to do is to remain calm. Your baby is already feeling a bit of distress, so your goal is to exude calm as you go through the process of cleaning your little one up and getting them back down.

Now that you’re the epitome of calm, you need to change your baby. Move your little one to a clean area of the crib, clean them up, and change their clothing. In case you missed it, you are not removing your little one from the crib. Use a gentle tone and touch to soothe your baby and reassure them that they’re okay.

With baby cleaned up, you need to strip the crib. Beginning at the corner closest to the vomit, remove the top sheet and protective barrier and start rolling it on itself until you have enough space to move your baby onto the fresh sheet. Roll the remainder of the soiled sheet and remove it from the crib. 

With your baby and their crib cleaned up, give them a quick cuddle, some soothing words, and then retreat to your chair if you’re remaining in the room. 

I will reiterate that it can take up to two weeks for your baby to adapt to their new, consistent sleep routine. While it’s distressing to see your baby cry until they vomit, they’ll eventually settle into the routine once they understand the sleep cues you’re giving them. After a few days of consistent sleep training, your baby will understand the cues that let them know precisely what will happen, leading up to a nap or bedtime. 

Hang in there tired parents! As always, if you’re struggling to find a sleep routine that sticks, or you need help creating a healthy sleep routine, give me a call. I’ve helped hundreds of Philadelphia area families – and families across the globe – get the sleep they need.

How To Sleep Train A Baby: The Daycare Dilemma

Split Nights with Twins

So, you’ve decided to finally tackle your little one’s sleepless nights and inconsistent napping. Learning how to sleep train a baby is challenging in itself, even before you take daycare into account. If you’re suffering from the daycare dilemma, this one’s for you.

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My Baby Wakes At 3 am: Is It Time To Start Sleep Training?

baby wake 3am

“My baby wakes at 3 am—is it time to start sleep training?” If you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is likely yes. But you’re not going to start at 3 am. Here’s the thing. If your baby—and your family—is suffering from middle-of-the-night awakenings, no one is getting a healthy night of sleep. In this instance, I’d say it’s time to make changes to ensure that everyone in the family gets healthy nights of sleep. Let’s take a look (more…)

Help! My Baby Wakes At 3 am Every Night

infant sleep coach

Being a new parent is exhausting in and of itself, but when your baby wakes at 3 am every night, it runs you completely ragged. The effects of sleep deprivation are dangerous when it becomes chronic. So, let’s take a look at why your baby is waking so early each morning and what you can do.

The science of sleep

You’re likely already familiar with the circadian rhythm in relation to sleep cycles. To regulate those rhythms, the human body releases melatonin and cortisol. Melatonin relaxes the body to get it ready to sleep, and cortisol acts as a stimulant to wake the body. As perfectly constructed as the human body is, a predictable cycle is easily disrupted.
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What Is Sleep Sense?

cute baby sleeping - sleep sense - gift of sleep consulting

As a Philadelphia-area pediatric sleep consultant, I’ve been asked almost every question in the book. Today I’m going to answer one of the top questions I receive: “What methods do you use?” The short answer is Sleep Sense™.

The Sleep Sense™ program

Authored by Dana Obleman, after countless hours of trial, error, and research, Sleep Sense™ is a complete system designed with easy to follow steps. The Sleep Sense™ program helps your little one learn and build the skills needed to independently sleep through the night. (more…)

Safe Sleep Tips: The Sleep Sack

baby sleep sack - gift of sleep

If you’ve spent any time on my blog or my Facebook page, you’ll know that I’m a proponent of the sleep sack. And while you might find it strange to be talking about this as the summer heats up, but think about it—do you sleep without any covers? I didn’t think so. The sleep sack is a safe way to make your baby comfortable when they sleep.

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Staying Sane With Kids During Quarantine

baby girl sleep at home

If you are one of the many families finding themselves at home more than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve likely had your share of ups and downs over the months. While many families have enjoyed the additional family time, cabin fever is taking its toll. Here are some tips for staying sane with kids during the quarantine. (more…)

Sleep Regression: Disrupted Sleep During Quarantine

baby sleeping on a blanket

2020 was off to a great start. Your baby was a napping and sleeping rockstar, and all was well. And then a global pandemic forced people indoors, shuttered from the outside world, many furloughed or even fired from their jobs. If your baby’s suffered from a sleep regression, you’re not alone. While a milestone may not be to blame, a dramatic shift in your family’s routine or heightened stress and anxiety can be the culprit. (more…)