This is for all of the parents out there who are apprehensive about sleep training, or simply can’t imagine it being a smooth process. Like anything, the best things in life are earned, and if you’re having trouble helping your little one develop a rhythm of healthy sleep habits, common misconceptions about sleep training can only serve to hinder any progress. When I hear arguments against sleep training, it seems that three myths prevail:
YOUR BABY WON’T LOVE YOU IN THE MORNING
Who loves, cuddles, snuggles, feeds, plays, changes wet diapers and nurtures your little one? You do! When most of your baby’s day is spent being cared for, do you really believe that a week of sleep training is going to negate everything else you do for her?
Making changes to a sleep routine, no matter the age of the person, will likely be met with some resistance, and change can often be difficult. Will your baby be a little unhappy that you’re no longer rocking her for an hour to put her to sleep? Likely, yes, but once she falls into a healthy sleep routine and begins getting the sleep s/he needs, you’ll more than likely have an even happier baby than before!
SLEEP TRAINING MEANS LEAVING YOUR BABY TO CRY IT OUT
Perhaps the number one misconception, in terms of sleep training, is the idea that babies are left to cry, and cry…and cry, until they are so exhausted that they fall asleep. Folks, this couldn’t be further from the case. Let me be perfectly clear, the Sleep Sense Program is not a “cry it out” program; in fact, you can remain in the room with your little one if it makes you more comfortable.
Babies communicate through crying, and when you change their bedtime routine they’re communicating their confusion. Think about it, you’ve been rocking your little one to sleep each night, and gently placing her into her crib once she falls asleep, of course she is confused! The good news is that your tired arms will get a rest and your baby will likely only take a few days to get over her confusion. Children adapt to change quickly and your little one will be getting herself to sleep calmly in no time at all.
SLEEP TRAINING IS TOO STRESSFUL FOR BABIES
Let me allay your fears: there is no evidence that sleep training produces any long or short term psychological effects on children.
Will there be crying? As I previously mentioned, your baby will likely be confused by the changes you’re making to her sleep routine, which can be anywhere from five to forty minutes of crying. Again, if the thought of your baby crying makes you cringe, you are more than welcome to remain in the room with her. The big picture is that it will only take a few days, with a bit of crying, for your baby to learn to fall asleep calmly and independently; the “stress” felt by your baby is minuscule in the grand scheme of things.
You can choose to do nothing. You can continue to rock your baby to sleep, rushing into her room anywhere from one to ten times a night to rock, nurse, or bounce her back to sleep. In this scenario, neither parent nor baby gets healthy sleep, depriving one or both of them of the sleep s/he needs to feel rested and refreshed. This can go on for months, and even years, creating poor sleep habits that can affect your little one later in life; there is evidence linking poor sleep with difficulty focusing in class, and even obesity, in school age children. The slew of problems associated with unhealthy sleep, and the trickle down effect, seem more stressful to me than a few fussy nights!
If one or more of these sleep training myths has hindered you from contemplating making simple, yet effective, changes in your little one’s sleep routine, I hope I’ve put your mind a little more at ease.
Where do you start and how do you begin making changes towards ensuring your baby adopts healthy sleep practices? Call me for a Complimentary Sleep Assessment so we can get acquainted and to discuss your baby’s sleep habits!