Often times I will get clients who mention on the Intake Form that they have tried EVERYTHING! They have tried the chair method, timed checks, extinction. Nothing works! They start to convince themselves that their child is just different and doesn't require as much sleep or is too stubborn to change or can't handle it.
Every. Single. Time. This ends up NOT being the case. After reading through the rest of their intake form and digging a little deeper into their stories, I find that something was missing.
If a child is not able to fall asleep independently or transition on their own between sleep cycles? Then yes. Figuring out a sleep training method is necessary. However, how you go about that method matters!
Also, falling asleep independently is not the only key to optimal sleep. There are several other components that must be in place in order to truly see long term success. To help your child create a strong sleep foundation, here are the five components needed.
1 - SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
The sleep environment should be one that encourages sleep. The room should be as dark as possible, quiet and without distractions, and cold.
Cold meaning a temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit with 65 being optimal for sleep. Cold meaning an appropriate amount of clothing and blankets. Cold meaning with clothes that are breathable in case the body needs to regulate temperature.
2 - CONSISTENT ROUTINES
You can strengthen your child's drive to sleep by having a consistent wake routine and sleep routine. Having a consistent routine cues to your child's brain so that they know what to expect. Subconsciously, your child will start to get tired if every night before bed you spend time going through the same routine.
3 - DAILY SCHEDULE
The systems within our bodies are heavily regulated by our circadian rhythms. It is important that your child is sleeping at the appropriate time of day for their age. If they goes down for a nap when they are too awake or overtired, this will prevent the quality sleep that they get when the timing is correct. Typically the start of AM naps fall around 9AM, PM naps somewhere between 12PM and 1PM, and bedtimes between 6PM and 7:30PM. Each child is different and the age of your child will matter when it comes to certain times, however, most children do not fall far from this timeline. For more information regarding an appropriate schedule for your child's age, check out my post
Although bedtime is included with Daily Schedule, I find it important enough to be a component of its own. Without an appropriate bedtime, you can experience a snowball effect of frequent night wakings, early risings, and short naps. I also find this to be important enough on its own because this is one area that most of my clients end up needing to adjust.
Bedtime will be somewhere between 6PM and 7:30PM until at least your child is five years old. And on days when your child has not napped well, has been fussy, is not feeling well, has been super busy, etc? AN EARLIER BEDTIME IS NECESSARY! Pay attention to how your child's day goes and her temperament between the hours of 4PM and 5PM. If she is fussy? That is a sign for an earlier bedtime. And by earlier, I mean putting your child down between 5PM and 5:30PM!
4 - ABILITY TO FALL ASLEEP AND CONNECT SLEEP CYCLES INDEPENDENTLY
This is where the portion of sleep training where choosing a method comes into play. This component probably comes as no surprise to you. However, this is often the hardest problem for parents to solve. This is what makes my services so valuable.
Too many people are spreading false information to parents. Telling them that sleep training will damage their child when they have not truly looked at the evidence. Or that sleep training automatically means CIO.
So many parents feel guilty for wanting sleep or have a difficult time going through the process because ultimately it means a few nights of crying. If you think about it? Sleep training is often the first time that parents are setting limits for their baby!
A common mistake that I see happen with sleep training is breaking the pattern without giving the child time to pick up on it. This is required in order to see change.
What do I mean by this? I mean interfering with the process by picking up the child when not a time to do so regardless of which method is being used. You MUST give your child the space to let your child fall asleep in order to see success. They need you to be consistent for them to understand the pattern associated with the change that is happening.
5 - ANYTHING ELSE THAT MIGHT BE HINDERING SLEEP
I have found there to be several areas that are often not considered or not strategized when it comes to improving sleep. Here are the common areas I notice!
No matter which component your infant or toddler might be missing, keep in mind that almost every change worth going through takes time. It isn't a quick fix. Almost every change worth going through comes with a challenge.
This is where I come into the picture. I support you during the process of sleep training. I am a sleep expert that you can check in with to make sure you are on the right track, that you are doing the right thing, that you are helping your child get the sleep she needs. If you fear that you might damage your child by helping them to get the sleep they need, I can help you understand from where that false information is coming and provide resources that show you otherwise.
If you are trying to help your child get good, quality sleep? Don't give up! Instead, make sure you have all of the components necessary to help your child get there. You've got this!
If you are interested in my services and would like to know how I can help, check out my pdf document "What Does Working with a Child Sleep Consultant Entails?"