When you decide to start teaching your child to develop better sleep skills there is no doubt that it will be both challenging and extremely rewarding.
I’ve rarely worked with a family whose baby went right down on the first night and just magically slept through from then on. Some have slept through the night on night two, most of them start seeing results on night three or four, but often the first few nights are the most taxing. I’ve also never worked with a family who didn’t benefit from making some changes in regards to their child’s sleep. More often, parents tell me that they regret waiting as long as they did to work on improving sleep.
Like so many things in life that are difficult, or scary, or aren’t guaranteed… we tend to make excuses, or find reasons why the timing isn’t right to get started. Today, I’d like to offer some tips for deciding whether or not it’s the right time to take on sleep training.
Are you going to be around? One of the only benefits of Covid-19 in my book is that many parents are currently either working from home or not working at all, which does present the opportunity to be at home while you work on improving sleep. Consistency is so important to success and I usually recommend that at least one parent is home for two weeks while you’re sleep training, so this might be a great opportunity to take the plunge. I don’t advise parents to start sleep training within two weeks of traveling, so while I know we are all mourning the loss of our vacations, maybe it’s an opportunity to make lemonade out of a crappy situation.
Is the time right for your child? The best chance for a quick and effective solution to your baby’s sleep issues is to implement the changes when they’re healthy and thriving. There’s going to be some fussing and protest in the first few nights, and we want to make sure it’s only due to the change in their routine, not because of actual discomfort, and if they’re healthy, it’s much easier to pinpoint the reasons for their fussing.
Is your child the right age? I believe that you can work on sleep at any age. To me there is no “too young” or “too old”. If you have a newborn, we can start building a foundation of healthy sleep and if you have a toddler or older child, I can help you get things back on track to restorative sleep moving forward.
Is your partner on board? If you’re raising your baby with a partner, it’s so helpful if both of you are committed to the process. The process is going to be easier, and less stressful if all caregivers are on board to pitch in.
Are you able to tolerate a few more days of interrupted sleep? While my goal is to get everyone sleeping as soon as possible, I don’t expect (but I can hope) for a perfect night one. If you have an important meeting or a major event coming up in the next few days that you need to be in peak condition for, you might want to wait until next weekend to get things underway.
And what are the signs that it is time to start as soon as possible? Well, are the symptoms of sleep deprivation starting to show? Are you starting to feel depressed, moody, forgetful, unmotivated, clumsy, or unfocused? Is your sex drive starting to wane? Have you noticed an increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings? These are all symptoms of sleep deprivation and they’re no laughing matter. Society tends to make light of the whole, “exhausted parent” persona, even suggesting at times that you should be willing to wear it like a badge of honor, but the more we learn about the health effects of sleep deprivation, the more we know that it is important for a healthy baby to have healthy parents. If you’re sleep-deprived or feel like you’re on the verge, now’s the time to take some action.
In reality, there may never be a perfect moment to get started... waiting until a baby is done teething may take 2 plus years, as well as waiting until the next big developmental milestone. So now that you know all that, if you feel like the time is right and you’re ready to get started, let’s get going! Get in touch and we can start putting together a plan for your child right away. I know it’s a big decision, but the outcome will be worth it. I’m ready when you are.