Hi, I’m Becky! I specialize in sleep training in Fort Collins and I’m here to help you determine if now is the time to teach your child to sleep better.
There are two things I can pretty much guarantee you when it comes to teaching your baby to sleep independently and eventually through the night:
- It’s going to be a challenge
- It’s going to be totally worth it
I rarely see unicorn babies, meaning a baby that goes right to sleep with no fuss, sleeping through the night, on the very first night of sleep training. More commonly, baby will spend the first night working through the new changes and by nights 2-3, parents will see immense changes, sometimes baby sleep all night, when age-appropriate. For most of my clients, night one is the most challenging and requires the most response and work. Once parents and baby are familiar with the new plan, good sleep for the whole family becomes more and more in sight.
Although the first few nights of sleep training are uncomfortable, I’ve never had a family tell me “we regret doing this. We dislike our baby sleeping well.” The benefits to the whole family are almost indescribable.
Like many big decisions though, there are times that are ideal and times that are less so. As you navigate this decision for your child and family, I’d like to offer some tips for deciding whether or not it’s the right time to venture down this oh-so-rewarding journey.
Are you going to be home?
I still have yet to find a silver lining in the ongoing pandemic or 2020 as a whole, but many parents are currently either working from home or not working at all, which does present the opportunity to be at home while you show your little one how to sleep independently. I recommend that parents dedicate two weeks at home for all nighttime sleep and as many naps at home (besides daycare) while you are sleep training, so this might be a great opportunity to take the plunge. You may not find another time where you are able to be so present and involved in your child’s sleep.
I don’t advise parents to start sleep training within two weeks of traveling away from home. With the ongoing pandemic, that’s not a concern for many families at the moment since we’re all sticking pretty close to our home base.
Is the time right for baby?
The best chance for a quick and effective solution to your baby’s sleep challenges is to implement the changes when they are healthy and thriving. If your child is dealing with uncontrolled reflux or has been diagnosed with colic, you will want to get that remedied before you start sleep training. There’s going to be some crying and protest in the first few nights, and we want to make sure it’s only due to the change in their routine, not because of actual discomfort, and if they’re healthy, it’s much easier to pinpoint the reasons for their fussing. If your child is struggling with a cold or sickness above a minor sniffle, you will also want to wait until they are well to begin this process. Lastly, if your baby has been diagnosed, or is suspected to have any medical issues, I require parents to run this process by their pediatrician, for final approval on sleep training. I am always so impressed to see sleep improve other issues baby might be struggling with, it’s really the foundation for all growth and development. Let your pediatrician have the last say.
Is your partner on board?
If you are raising your baby with a partner, it’s important that both of you are committed to the process. This can be a trying ordeal for the first couple of nights and if your partner thinks it’s not a good idea, there’s likely going to be a point where they manage to convince you to give in and resort to whatever “sleep prop” you usually use to get your baby to sleep. So, before you get started, make sure you and your partner have both signed on and can rely on one another for support. If you do not have a partner or they are unavailable to support you, ask a friend or other family member to join you for the first few bedtimes. This may also be a time where you ask me, your baby sleep consultant, to join you for bedtime or the night.
For families that have family members caring for their baby full time or part time while they work, it is also paramount that you get all caregivers on board as well. There is nothing worse than a mother-in-law who derails all your hard work in a single day.
Can you stand a couple of nights without a lot of sleep?
In my years as a parent, I’ve learned that no change comes easily with parenting. I’m not one to sugar coat the sleep training process. Changing up a child’s sleep routine and habits is almost never met with a lot of enthusiasm for the first night or two, so nobody is likely to get a lot of rest for the first 24-48 hours. If you have an important meeting or a major event coming up in the next few days that you need to be in peak condition for, you might want to wait until next weekend to get things underway. Many families choose a weekend to get started, so they can focus on sleep and not work.
How are you handling your current situation and the sleep deprivation?
Are you starting to feel depressed, moody, forgetful, unmotivated, clumsy, or unfocused? Is your sex drive starting to wane? Have you noticed an increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings?
These are all symptoms of sleep deprivation and they are no laughing matter. Society tends to make light of the whole, “exhausted new parent” persona, but the more we learn about the health effects of sleep deprivation, the less of a joke it becomes. If you are sleep-deprived or feel like you’re hanging on by a thread, now is the time to take some action.
Are you feeling resentful of your partner and even your child, dreading the thought of bedtime or naps? No matter what your Facebook groups or the internet tells you, this is not normal. There is absolutely no badge of honor for living this way.
I often have parents come to me when they are at the point of desperation, willing to do anything to have a goodnights rest. My advice to new or expecting parents and even parents who seem to have a unicorn baby – work on sleep before you start falling apart. Parents who come to me with newborns, rarely must make any big sleep interventions later on.
Is baby’s sleeping space ready?
Exceptions can be made in certain situations, but I really do find that putting baby into their own room is the best way to help them learn to sleep independently, and there are a few decorating guidelines to help baby get the hang of this thing as quickly as possible. Their room should be as dark as you can possibly get it. Put up some blackout blinds or for a DIY approach, tape up some garbage bags over the windows. It’s not pretty but 100% darkness will really help with daytime naps and early morning waking.
Remove any mobiles, crib aquariums, or light-emitting devices that claim to help baby sleep. I’m certain that none of these extras will make a difference and may even be a distraction. An ideal nursery is flat-out boring. Baby should recognize it as a place to do nothing but sleep, so keep their toys and stuffed animals in another room.
When creating baby’s sleeping space, there is nothing more important than your baby’s safety. The crib should be bare and free from any bumpers, blankets, pillows, or toys. Your baby needs a firm mattress with a tight-fitting crib sheet. I know I’m crushing all of your Pinterest dreams but keeping baby safe is worth it.
Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment
Getting started on sleep training and then having to stop because of bad planning is likely going to cause some confusion and minimize your chances for success. Remember, there is always going to be something that isn’t exactly ideal. Teething, crawling, rolling over, and other developmental milestones. That’s just life, right? These milestones are all great, your baby is growing and developing normally. Don’t wait to improve sleep. As a sleep training in Fort Collins expert, I can tell you that there’s not always a perfect moment, but there are many that are good enough!
Ready, set, go!
If you’re feeling like now is the time to make some changes, let’s get started! As your sleep training in Fort Collins expert, I’m here to help your whole family sleep better. Get in touch and say goodbye to sleepless nights once and for all.
Click here to set up a free sleep training in Fort Collins consultation to get started.