By Katie Kovaleski
Today’s Sleep Myth: True or False? Sleep training is just leaving your child to cry by itself.
The answer to this myth is in fact FALSE. Sleep Training is a multi-layered process of helping to teach your child how to sleep uninterrupted all night long as well as take consistently long daily naps. This process includes:
Providing and creating an appropriate sleep conducive environment for your child to sleep in for all naps and nighttime sleep. While things like vacations and the occasional fluke happen from time to time, it’s important for children with sleep issues to have a stable sleep environment.
An appropriate sleep environment can include: keeping the sleep space at a cool temperature, using black out curtains to create a dark, sleep friendly space, following safety guidelines for age appropriate bedding and toys, and using white noise to help your child tune out external noise. White noise is not addictive and your child will not become dependent on it, we do not recommend or endorse using music machines.
Having your child on an age appropriate schedule. Scheduling by the clock doesn’t come into play until babies are 4 months of age. We do not begin any formal sleep training methods until that time. Once they hit 4 months we can start to shape their schedule so they are sleeping at the most biologically beneficial times of day as well as through the night. Sleep training methods are what allow us to shape their schedule and have them sleeping well without the use of aids, props, or negative sleep associations. (Prior to 4 months of age you can begin sleep shaping, which takes small steps to preparing your child for sleep training)
Picking a sleep training method- Cry it out is probably the most well known method but is definitely not the only way. There are many effective sleep training methods, ranging from gradual methods like pick up put down, to semi-gradual methods like check and console and the chair method. They are all effective, while some may be more or less appropriate for different sleep issues and situations.
Researching or hiring a sleep consultant to help educate and train you on various sleep-method options. Sleep training is not about abandoning your child or just leaving them to cry. There are numerous effective sleep methods at your disposal and it’s important to choose one that you and your family are comfortable with. Never choose a method that leaves you feeling worried about your child. Comfort and consistency are key in order to be successful in sleep training.