How to Work Through Your Child's Sleep Problems
Once a sleep problem has developed, and sleep training becomes necessary, things can definitely get difficult. Trust me, I have been there and it was BRUTAL. Because of a medical problem, one of my babies didn’t sleep more than 2 hours for the first 9 months (or more) of his life. It was terrible.
My guess is that if you’re spending time on this post today, you are already struggling to help your baby sleep through the night. You know it is important, you need him or her to do it for everyone’s sanity, but you just don’t know how to get started. Does that sound like you?
You have come to the right place.
If you are a very new parent or if you are expecting, I have a great blog post about preventing sleep problem. You should start there. The best intervention is prevention and seriously, 90% of infant sleep problems can absolutely be prevented with some smart steps taken early in a child’s life.
Even if you are already entrenched in the battle for sleep, I recommend starting with those preventative measures. They will provide you with a firm foundation that will make your sleep training successful.
>> FIXING PROBLEMS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEGUN
I am a junkie for good sleep training information because of my convictions about the importance of infant sleep. The evidence of the awesome developmental, intellectual, and mood benefits of a well rested infant are irrefutable. So naturally, I think sleep is worth fighting for.
I read arguments against sleep training, saying that it is brutal. But to those articles (none of of which seem to be written by child development professionals), I can’t help but emphasize the mountain of research in favor of infant sleep. Relative to the years of inconsistency, mood difficulty, and developmental delays that poor sleep can cause, a short period (often 3-5 days) of sleep training is far less brutal.
If done well, sleep training is a gift that the parent must plan well for so that everyone in the family can benefit for years to come. To those who say that the crying involved in sleep training is detrimental to the infant's health, I must remind us that infants who are sleep trained actually cry less than infants who are not. Plus, there is no evidence for long term social or emotional damage from a short period of extended crying during a well planned, intentional period of sleep training.
>> HIRING SOMEONE
If you are feeling at the bottom of a dark, sleepless well, and are needing to find someway out - a good sleep training coach is one of the most incredible investments you can make. Like I have said several times thus far, a well planned period of sleep training is far better than the damage of poor sleep. A sleep coach will do a thorough assessment of your particular situation and assist you with the lowest impact, easiest transition into solid sleep.
Consulting with someone will ensure that you are being healthy and considerate. It will increase your confidence during the one or two nights of intense crying. Having their support and expertise will help you rest in the difficult but important work of sleep training.
I would be happy to consult with you about your child’s sleep problems for a fee. I also highly recommend you to Dream Team Baby. As far as I am concerned, they are the best in the business. They will ensure that your infant gets the sleep they need in a way that is not harmful to your infant in any way.
They even have 10 really great sleep tips that you can read. You can get a sense for their wisdom, consideration, and gentle approach by reading their tips article. Their book Dream Sleeper is also full of helpful wisdom.
Still not sold about sleep training or pretty sure that you can do it on your own? That is a-okay and I absolutely you can sleep train on your own. But first, I recommend you read several very important books in the field of sleep research and sleep training. I recommend these books because of the good science and gentle respect for the infant. Here is a list:
>> Dream Sleeper by Conner Herman and Kira Ryan
>> Solve your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber
>> Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth
A note about Dr. Richard Ferber: Dr. Ferber’s method has been sorely represented in the media and across the blogosphere. Thus, you might have been surprised to see that I have recommended it here. However, I trust that if you actually read Ferber’s method you will see that the method attributed to him (letting your baby cry for hours on end without checking on her) is categorically not what he supposes at all. His book is considerate and so respectful. There is a reason his name has made such an impact, even though he has recently become misunderstood and misrepresented.
**Although there are great books about infant sleep, there is no substitute for the insight, perspective, and guidance of a genuine infant sleep expert.
If you are struggling with sleep at home, there are some wonderful step-by-step programs that WILL get you and your baby the sleep that you need. You are not doomed, not do you need to believe that there is nothing that can be done. Infant sleep is critical to healthy development and is definitely worth fighting for.
That said, it is relatively easy to prevent sleep problems from occurring. In other words, the best intervention for sleep problems is prevention. Here is what I wish I had been told - if you do these things right, have good instincts, and ensure that you are supported by smart, watchful others, and then if your baby still doesn’t sleep, start making changes to your diet (or his) or see a medical professional.
Ok - So the name of this post is “sleep training.” I really believe in sleep training and would love to tell you all about how to do sleep training like a pro to successfully eliminate any problem that you have (Which is 100% possible, by the way). BUT, sleep training is typically something you begin after you have done all of the preventative work and laid the best foundation for successful sleep.
I have a problem with Sleep Training blog posts that dive right on in with remedial intervention, time intervals for crying, ways to soothe when doing intermittent checking, etc are all good and well. It just bothers me that so many don’t FIRST remind parents of the very easy habits that should be developed in order for sleep training to really take root.