I’m not a fan of the term “sleep training” mainly because of all the negative connotations attached to it.
When anyone mentions sleep training, many immediately think of “Cry-It-Out”. This is such a HUGE misconception about sleep training.
In my opinion, leaving your baby to cry alone without providing comfort or reassurance is NOT sleep training. It sounds more like a nightmare. I am not a fan of this method and I prefer a much more responsive method – the Sleep Sense method.
With that being said, teaching a baby independent sleep skills still involves some crying. I say it to all my clients upfront and I’ll say it here – none of us like changes made to our sleep habits, even if they’re changes for better, healthier sleep. Babies are no different, they’re human after all! If anything, crying is their only form of communication to express objection and resistance to change.
So, how much crying?
There are 3 factors that affect how much a baby cries as they develop this skill:
1- Baby’s temperament – babies have different personalities and tend to respond to change differently.
2- How sleep deprived they are – an exhausted baby will have high levels of stress hormones which will prevent them from winding down, relaxing, and falling asleep with ease.
3- How consistent we are as we guide them to sleep on their own – consistency is the ONLY factor that we control. Consistency in bedtimes, bedtime routines, and bedtime boundaries are all comforting for a baby. Babies thrive on routine and that is applicable to sleep too. Once you make the commitment to give them the chance to learn to sleep on their own, I advise you to stick to it. Going back and forth will only create confusion and cause more crying.
I don’t believe that teaching a baby independent sleep skills is the right thing for every family. However, if the misconception that it is just a version of “Cry-It-Out” is what is stopping you, I just want you to know that it isn’t accurate at all.
If you’re struggling with your baby’s sleep and would like to explore options that are more aligned with your parenting values, click here to book a free 15-minute call and let’s talk more about it!