Working in the baby/parenting industry I know that there are many topics that can cause a big debate. These topics can get parents talking, engaging and sharing passionate opinions and in the sleep space, this is no different - even just the words 'sleep training' might send a shiver down most parents' spine.
Even I don't love the words 'sleep training'… not because I have strong opinions but rather because I know other parents do. I always find myself clarifying the words, explaining what I mean when I say them.
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What do I mean when I say sleep training?
For me, sleep training means the methods we use to create sustainable sleep associations. Yes, it doesn't sound very easy, but it should, in reality. I purposefully chose the wording.
I know the power that goes with it. I know how irresponsible people can be about sleep training. I know that not doing it correctly can do more harm than good.
I know that just doing sleep training will not work. I know doing sleep training wrong will not work.
YES, I said it – sleep training does not work.
I have often consulted with parents who have attempted a form of sleep training by themselves, and it did not go well. Even long hours of crying didn't help and resulted in a traumatised baby and parents.
This has nothing to do with the parent's consistency, determination, or even beliefs. They did it, and it did not work.
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Why doesn't sleep training work if attempted without professional help?
Even though sleep is natural, it is complex, and parents repeatedly underestimate this. Sleep training (or creating sustainable sleep associations) is only one part of sleeping well. This is the part that many parents have passionate opinions on because it is often one of the more difficult steps of teaching good sleep habits, but it does not make it more critical.
The fact is that too many parents attempt sleep training without understanding how to do it responsibly. Too many parents try sleep training without any other building blocks of sleep in place.
Too many parents irresponsibly attempt sleep training, which can cause a lot more unnecessary crying and ultimately more sleep issues.
Sleep training without a proper daily routine and schedule will not work. After giving your child a litre of coca-cola, sleep training will cause hours and hours of crying.
Sleep training with a bedtime routine that is too late will cause your baby to wake up soon after falling asleep. Sleep training with all the lights on will prolong the process and create multiple wake-ups.
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Sleep training does not work… in isolation. It should never be attempted without first considering the other building blocks of good quality sleep; that would be irresponsible.
You can only create sustainable sleep associations once all the other building blocks of rest are in place. The different building blocks are easier to achieve then, but does not make them less critical.
Getting all the building blocks in place can go a long way in bettering your baby's sleep, without even needing to do sleep training.
Republished with permission. See the original here.
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