The idea of possibly sleep training your baby can elicit many emotions. Fear, confusion, overwhelm. While sleep training can be a very rewarding experience, it can also be fraught with confusion and misgiving. Sleep training is the process of helping support and guide your baby to be able to fall asleep on their own and, if age appropriate, sleep through the night. Healthy sleep skills are essential for a baby’s development and well-being. Parents worldwide want their little ones to get the best sleep they can so they can grow and thrive. Unfortunately, there is an overabundance of information on this very subject and, with it conflicting advice. Suffice to say, it’s entirely understandable for new parents to feel overwhelmed at where to begin. I am hopeful that this post will help parents separate fact from fiction and provide clarity and guidance to help you, the parent, make an informed decision on what is best for your baby and their sleep journey.
Myth 1: Sleep Training Means Letting Your Baby Cry It Out
Okay, let me set the record straight. Sleep training does not automatically equate to leaving your baby alone and upset in their crib for hours until they finally fall asleep. While Extinction (aka Cry It Out) is one possible method for sleep training, it’s not the only one. Quite a few options are open to sleep-deprived parents, and each offers different levels of supporting their baby on their journey to better sleep. There are methods where you can remain close by while your baby is beginning to learn their skill and slowly fade out of the scenario. And some approaches advocate for timed check-ins on babies as they are beginning their journey to independent sleep Both of these options offer varying levels of parent interaction and responsiveness during the sleep training process. As parents, you can choose the method that best matches your parenting style and your little one’s personality. Or choose to do nothing at all. As the Sleep Foundation states, “The ‘right’ way to sleep train is the right way for you and your baby.”
Myth 2: Sleep Training Is Harmful to Babies’ Emotional Development
There is a lot of misinformation on the internet regarding this point. So, I want to set your mind at ease. Recent studies have shown no long-term adverse effects on a child’s emotional well-being or development…or even parent-child attachment when sleep training is done appropriately. On the contrary, well-rested babies tend to be happier and more engaging overall and can handle challenges and new experiences better. Moreover, establishing healthy and consistent bedtime routines and practicing responsive parenting during waking hours helps foster secure attachment between parents and children. When everyone in the house is well-rested, families can thrive!.
Myth 3: Babies Will Naturally Learn to Sleep Through the Night Without Any Intervention
While this might be true for some babies, it certainly is not for all. There is nothing wrong with taking a “wait it out” approach where your baby’s sleep is concerned; there is no guarantee that things will improve. Did you know that no human “sleeps through the night?” It’s true! Humans, as a whole, wake (albeit briefly) multiple times per night. If you have solid independent sleep skills, you’ll most likely not remember the waking as you repositioned yourself and glided right into the next sleep cycle. On occasion, though, you’ll wake fully to glance at the clock, reposition the blankets, or make your 4th trip of the night to the bathroom if you are pregnant. So the wakings in the night are not the issue for your baby; it’s the fact that they cannot effectively self-soothe and require help from you to get back to sleep (which is where they want to be). So, for this point alone, you may consider sleep training your little one and supporting them in learning to fall back to sleep easily during the night.
In conclusion, it’s essential to recognize sleep’s importance for babies and debunk common myths surrounding sleep training. As I’ve discussed, sleep training does not have to mean letting your baby “Cry It Out” (a method that I do not use in any of my programs). It does not mean that the process will cause physical, mental, or emotional harm to your baby or attachment to your baby. I implore you as a parent to make an informed decision based on your parenting philosophy and the unique needs of your baby based upon your situation. If you are still overwhelmed and unsure about the best approach for your family or require further support, consider booking a call with a certified pediatric sleep coach from a reputable and long-standing training program. With the proper guidance and program, you can help guide your family from sleep deprived to sleep revived. Rest assured.
Hey there, amazing parents! I’m Jenn, a certified pediatric sleep coach and certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator with over 10 years of experience transforming the lives of thousands of families worldwide with my respectful sleep programs. I was once a sleep-deprived new mommy and know how hard it can be to function daily with little to no sleep. It stinks! That’s why I have made it my mission to help families very much like my own thrive, one sleep consultation at a time. A well-rested family is at the very heart of my business.