As professionals in the Pediatric Sleep industry - we often hear and see false accusations surrounding sleep training and crying. The "cry it out" method is one we almost never recommend, but it seems to be what most parents think of when they hear the word "Sleep Training". I too am a parent who is very triggered when I hear a baby, especially my baby cry - so I can completely relate to these concerns. If we could go through life without having our babies cry or become upset it would be a parents dream - but we also know this wouldn't be normal. A child's natural response to change is crying, because that is their only form of communication. Naturally, when your child experiences change at any point in their life, they are going to protest, until they realize that this change is safe and beneficial for them. This same methodology will follow your child throughout their whole life, as they are developing, learning, and adapting to new life experiences.
Our sleep programs are designed to gently train your little one to connect their sleep cycles independently, and although we would love for them to learn this process without tears - we know that the normal response to change is protest. Instead of a tear free teaching experience, we provide them with comfort, and reassurance during the entire process. Allowing your little one to see that you are close by during the entire program will create a positive, and gentle approach to the new change, and we often see a wonderful improvement in just three nights. A common question we often hear during our consultation calls is:
Will crying during sleep training negatively effect my child emotionally?
The short answer is no! Crying is actually a very normal part of change and development.
There are many factors that predict crying, but there is an influential relationship between sleep, baby temperament and functioning. When improvements are made with a baby’s sleep this will directly improve their functioning and result in a more positive temperament overall. Tired babies are more emotionally reactive and less able to cope with emotions than well rested babies. After just three days of sleep training we often see big improvements in our clients overall mood and temperament throughout the day.
Temperament is a baby’s emotional intensity or excitability and is normally established within the first few weeks after birth. Your baby’s temperament determines how they naturally react to situations and stimuli, their mood, their ability to calm themselves and how active they are. You can get to know your baby’s temperament and more easily predict how they will react to certain things. Prior to creating a customized sleep plan for our clients we will evaluate your child's temperament.
There are three categories, and some children may show a combination depending on the situation:
1. Difficult: Irritable , fussy, and get upset easily. They may have unpredictable feeding schedules.
2. Easy: Friendly, happy, calm and relaxed. They may have more predictable feeding schedules but are flexible with their day.
3. Slow to warm up: They do not like new situations, are cautious and sometimes fussy but do warm up to new stimuli with repeated exposure.
Your baby’s temperament, personality, and your parenting philosophy directly influences which sleep training method we choose when creating their custom sleep plan. Babies who who are more relaxed, laid back, calm, have little crying and go with the flow often need a method with less crying. Babies who are more determined, strong willed and fussy often need a method with less parental involvement because they become highly stimulated.
We really encourage parents to trust the process. Research actually shows the opposite of this methodology. Well-rested children are joyful, attentive, and reach their developmental milestones with ease. Sleep is so important, and sleep training provides life-long benefits for your child and your whole family. As you can see we cannot promise a tear free experience, but we are able to implement compassionate techniques to help reach your sleep goals while remaining within your comfort level as a parent.
Crying is normal part of your child's development, and remember that if your baby is struggling with sleep it doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong. By evaluating your goals, and your baby's individual needs we will be able to select and provide the best sleep training method for their temperament, personality, and your comfort level as a parent. For more information, and to have a free evaluation of your baby's sleep visit www.theslumbernest.com to book your free consultation with one of our Sleep Specialists today!
- Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant