5 Tips for Sleep Training Success (without crying it out)

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5 Tips for Sleep Training Success (without crying it out)

Sleep training is a very nuanced topic and one that can have different meanings for each person depending on what your specific goals are for your sleep journey!

I define sleep training as conditioning your child to sleep in or with a specific way. When we think of it that way, we are ALL sleep training our children! We just aren’t all using the same methods.

Sleep training doesn’t have to be an all or nothing option though. I have 5 tips for you to improve sleep with or without sleep training.

      1. Log your child’s sleep

This is important because it helps you identify trends, patterns, and rhythms specifically for your child instead of just finding a schedule online and trying to fit your little one into a box. It may or may not work for your little one and if it doesn’t work, it leaves you feeling frustrated (and maybe a tiny bit like a failure).

When you log sleep, try to see if you can find their sweet spot for naps and bedtime. This is when they fall asleep easiest and stay asleep the longest. You may go by sleepy cues if your child shows those to you before it’s too late! 

You may find that your child has a specific bedtime where they fall asleep easily, stay asleep, and sleep until a normal wake up time; obviously, you’d want to stick with that time!

      2. Create a bedtime routine

Research shows that the simple implementation of a bedtime routine can improve sleep in as little as a few nights! Routines are super important to help your little one know and accept that sleep is coming. 

If you have an older toddler, using a chart can decrease bedtime battles as it really makes them feel like they’re a part of the process vs. just being told what to do constantly.

      3. Set up an optimal sleep environment

An ideal sleep environment would be as dark as a cave, with white noise, and a cool temperature. This is where I often get some push back from parents because they want to make sure their child is still “flexible” enough to sleep in other places.

Unfortunately, how they sleep in other places is related more to their personality and not whether they sleep in total darkness at home. Some kids sleep fine no matter where they are and others don’t, just like adults!

      4. Commitment and consistency!

These are sometimes the most important puzzle pieces to improving sleep – picking something and sticking with it.

If we are constantly changing how we approach sleep, our little ones may get confused and start to resist sleep even more than they might’ve before. That’s the opposite of what we want!

      5. Use sleep associations to your advantage

These are things that your child associates positively with sleep. It would include your bedtime routine, white noise, a song you sing at bedtime, their sleep sack, a lovey (or maybe a pacifier if they’re old enough to replace it), a bedtime book, etc.

We want to build in multiple sleep associations because sometimes we aren’t able to do ALL of them at the same time. Even having 1-2 things like when you travel can ensure sleep doesn’t go totally off the rails.

Finally, when you’re ready to sleep train, you have a ton of different sleep training methods available to you! The important thing is that you believe your child is capable, that you stick with the method, and that you choose something you can follow through with.

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Ashley Olson is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, owner of Heaven Sent Sleep, and passionate about helping new parents, experienced parents, desperate and sleep deprived parents form healthy sleep habits for their children.

She has over 4 years of experience in working with families and has completed over 150 hours of coursework plus continuing education related to infant and toddler sleep. The focus of her work is on fostering a routine that grows your bond with your child while improving their sleep habits. She specializes in custom sleep plans and one on one support in changing sleep practices!

 

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