Quite often I receive new client forms in which a parent informs me that they have previously tried sleep training and it didn’t “work” for their child. Clearly they are open to trying again or they wouldn’t have reached out to me, but let’s discuss why their past attempt failed? Was it:
A) Because they were not consistent
B) Because their child was not on a schedule conducive to their age
C) Because their child is chronically overtired
D) Because they just have a terrible sleeper
Hint, the correct answer is not D. Of course that is never the case as all children can be great sleepers if given the right tools. Option A, B, C or a combo of the three are always to blame when sleep training goes awry.
Consistency – In the world of sleep consulting you will hear this word a lot. This is because being consistent is the key to your child understanding your expectations. If one day you respond to his night waking by leaving him to go back to sleep on his own and the next you rock him to sleep, how will he know which you expect? So consistency, consistency, consistency!
Schedule – Why is a schedule so important? For a few reasons: First, it is important to have your child on a sleep schedule that is in sync with their inner biological clock or circadian rhythm, because this ensures that they will have the easiest time falling asleep and staying asleep. Sleeping at these correct times will also allow your child to get the best quality and most restorative sleep possible. Second, because having a schedule and a consistent routine allows your child to understand what to expect. Children truly thrive on routine and this is no different when it comes to their sleep. Lastly, sleeping on the correct schedule for your little one’s age will allow them to remain well rested and not to become dreadfully overtired. This includes a bedtime that can occur before overtiredness sets in.
Overtiredness – Rather than re-invent the wheel, I will let my friend and colleague Joleen Dilk Salyn of Baby Sleep 101 explain this one. Please read her thorough and eloquent explanation on just how much havoc overtiredness can reek on your child’s sleep. “Overtiredness – the Root of All Sleep Training Evil”.
If this all sounds all too familiar to you and teaching your child self soothing skills has failed in the past, take care to ensure these 3 things are in place and give it another go. With them included in your plan, I am willing to bet this time it will go much better.
Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2017
Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips.