What is Sleep Training?Aug 27, 2022
Sleep training is also known as sleep teaching, coaching, shaping, conditioning or learning. ALL essentially mean the same thing but often suggest different methods.
Simply put, sleep training is the process of teaching your baby how to fall asleep at bedtime in their crib without your constant physical assistance.
By doing this, you can help them to feel confident transitioning through sleep cycles overnight, leaving them to wake only when they truly need a feeding or something else, rather than every hour or so.
This can help with your baby’s sleep especially after their sleep cycles begin to mature around 3-5 months old. This is a time where you may find your previously great sleeper suddenly waking every 1-2 hours all night long.
You can learn more about this phenomenon (AKA the 4 month sleep regression) in my FREE Sleep Regression Mini Course below!
In a nutshell, if your baby is being put to sleep initially with rocking, nursing, bouncing etc. (which is very common and normal for newborns), they can struggle to transition through those sleep cycles without crying out and needing your assistance again to fall back to sleep.
I will say, this isn’t for every single baby, and you’ll definitely hear of little one’s who can be rocked/nursed to sleep and sleep 12 hours straight from the moment they are 3 months old… I’m happy for the parents, but empathetic towards the other parents that don’t have this experience, but wish they did… AKA, me.
But if this is not your baby (probably why you are here), then you are not alone. I was there too! But it’s not the end of the world, and great sleep is on the horizon, I promise!
You can teach your bebe how to initiate sleep at the beginning of night, so that they can connect those sleep cycles.
Reminder: Sleep teaching does not necessarily equal night weaning. That usually comes naturally.
Second Reminder: Sleep teaching is not one size fits all and is not just “crying-it-out.”
One method of sleep teaching is “extinction” often referred to as crying-it-out…
….BUT THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER WAYS TO DO IT!
From very hands-on methods that can take several months, to a gradual fading that takes about 2-4 weeks, and then check and comfort methods which can take 1-3 weeks where you give them a bit more space.
No method is really “wrong.”
It’s more about what works for you and your child. It’s my belief that it really is up to the family to decide what method is best for them.
It’s important to know that studies have shown sleep training to have no negative effects on babies. No matter the method you choose, or if you decide not to sleep teach, studies show no difference.
I personally know some incredibly gentle and loving parents who decided to go with extinction sleep training as it was best for them as a family. I also know some families or decided not to sleep train because that was best for them. Both are amazing parents and they have amazing children.
So basically, if you WANT to sleep teach, do it. If you don’t… Don’t, lol. Obviously if you’re here you are at least curious about it, so welcome. I hope this blog answers your questions!
If you would like to dive into the research of sleep teaching and training a little more, I have a whole page dedicated to sleep research here.
Want to get started? That’s where I come in! The first thing you want to do is make a clear plan! If you’re really struggling & need support along with a clear step by step plan… I have got you covered!
If your baby is under 3 months old
If your baby is 4-24 months old
If your little one is 2-4 years
Reference links + Additional Reading:
Ferber, R. (1985). Solve your child's sleep problems. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Hookway, Lindsay. Holistic Sleep Coaching - Gentle Alternatives to Sleep Training: For Health & Childcare ... Professionals. PRAECLARUS Press, 2018.
Weissbluth, Marc. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep. Ballantine Group, 2021.
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