Sleep Training FAQ

Got questions? Here are some answers!

What is sleep training?
The term “sleep training” covers a wide variety of ways I can help your family get more sleep. They all involve putting the child on a biologically appropriate sleep schedule, teaching self-soothing skills, and setting limits and boundaries to discourage negative behavior around sleep. 

Who can benefit from sleep training?
The whole family! When the little ones sleep, everyone does! Sleep deprivation can increase maternal depression, cause serious disruptions to your family life, and lead to behavioral problems down the road. It’s never too late to start, but it gets harder the longer you wait! We can start as early as 4 months old (from baby’s due date, if they were early). You can even start encouraging good sleep habits for babies as young as 8-10 weeks old.

What kinds of problems do you address?
I can help you with any combination of the following issues: 
-Setting biologically appropriate sleep schedules
-Encouraging good sleep hygiene
-Eliminating night wakings (except for necessary feedings in young babies)
-Ending bedsharing
-Night weaning
-Bedtime stalling and struggles
-Short or non-existent naps
-Major transitions such as dropping naps or moving from crib to bed
-Rebuilding structure after major life events
Don’t see your issue on this list? Call me anyway – we will figure it out together! 

My friend/family member/nosy neighbor said they read that sleep training hurts babies and will ruin our relationship. Is this true?
No scientific study has proven that sleep training has any negative effects; in fact, the opposite has been shown. Many of the studies that attempt to prove that sleep training is dangerous use extremely flawed methods. Rats respond differently to stress hormones than people do; we can’t draw conclusions on human biology based on those studies. Studies about prolonged crying often refer to weeks of crying, the kind that results from neglect; the minutes of angry crying caused by sleep training are but a blip on the radar. Increased and improved sleep will only strengthen your family’s bonds. It’s an hour or two of crappiness in your family’s beautiful life.

Doesn’t sleep training just mean hours of crying until baby gives up? That sounds terrible!
OK, first – changing a habit is never fun. I’m pretty sure adults would cry every time they went on a diet or quit smoking, if it were socially acceptable. You’re setting vitally important boundaries and limits, so of course they will be mad! Same as if you told them they can’t play with knives while running down the highway screaming profanities. There will always be angry tears coming from your child when you have to enforce the rules. but we know that they’re a necessary evil (the rules, not the kids).
So, as for the crying – there is NO sleep training method that does not involve some tears (see changing habits above). But some methods are slower and gentler than others, and many times I recommend we start with one of these. They take longer, and they are more intricate, but they are less abrupt and they work if applied consistently. For my “tried-everything-else” and my “OMG I am desperate for sleep NOW” peeps, we will go down the quicker path. It’s all about YOU and your family’s priorities and needs.

Why should I pay you for something I can do myself?
There are lots of books and websites that offer up sleep solutions. If you have the energy to find one that fits your parenting style, then read several hundred pages, then consistently apply the method, a big, admiring WOOHOO!!! gold star for you! But if you are a mess like I was, you might not have the wherewithal to do that. That’s where I come in!
I liken my job to that of a personal trainer. Some people are naturally thin and don’t need to work out; some people can get to the gym and exercise on their own volition. Then there are those of us who need to be helped along the way – let’s make it happen together!