Forever Freckled is so excited to welcome Melissa Perry to our expert blogging family. Melissa is the owner and lead sleep consultant at The Cradle Coach. She graduated with a Communications and Psychology degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University and is a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants. Like all good businesses, The Cradle Coach was created from out of necessity. After struggling to get her first child to sleep through the night, Melissa discovered that there wasn’t a great amount of resources to help with sleep training. That’s when The Cradle Coach was created. Melissa wanted to provide parents with a go-to place for sleep support. Since then, she has coached hundreds of parents who also thought they had no options left. Melissa provides one-on-one counseling for parents struggling with getting their child to sleep through the night, as well as seminars. She is going to give us some tips today on how to start the sleep training process.
Five Tips in Preparing for Sleep Training Success
Every parents’ dream is to have their baby sleeping throughout the night. But for some, it’s not a walk in the park. Habits have been formed and routines have been established. The good news is, change can happen! When you are ready to make those changes, finding a gentle method is important but so is the preparation. Here are some ways to making the approach a success:
- Get a Game Plan. Bath, books, bottle and bed are the famous four b’s to getting your child ready for the night. But what most parents don’t know is what to do from there? Preparation is essential for creating a good nights sleep. Start by marking it on your calendar when you are going to begin sleep training your child. Then write down your goals for your child’s sleep and find a gentle approach to get you there. Listing out exactly what you are going to do once you place them in their crib allows everyone to be on the same page and builds your confidence as you begin the training. Knowing how to handle a child’s wake-ups is what sleep training is all about, so be prepared to create a gentle action plan and stick with it.
- The Environment is Key. Setting up the stage for success starts with creating a perfect sleep environment. First of all, make sure your child’s room is nice and dark. I am talking DARK. Any stimulation can cause your child to wake, so the darker the room the better. Use room-darkening shades, heavy curtains, and/or mini blinds to block out the sunlight from windows. Not only is it important to have a dark room, but also a good fan or white noise machine. The steady hum of background noise, from a fan or a white noise machine, helps cover up household/neighborhood noises. It also serves as an audio cue of when it’s time to go to sleep. Make sure whatever you decide to use, you place it on all night long. Finally, having a crib mattress that is firm but comfortable with breathable bumpers is important. Make sure the crib is free of all items except a pacifier or a breathable lovey/blanket (once they are over six months).
- Keep Calm Before the Storm. It’s vital you stay confident and release all your worries before and during sleep training! Research shows that babies can pick up on your anxieties even when they are as little as 4 months old. The more nervous you feel about teaching your baby to sleep, the harder it will be for them. So take a deep breath and allow your child the opportunity to learn how to fall asleep without needing YOU!
- Have a Strong Teammate. As discussed above, having a solid game plan is essential, but what is most important – making sure you have someone backing you up and keeping you emotionally strong. This process of sleep training your child is not always easy. It takes patience and it takes perseverance. If your partner isn’t on the same page with you, most often the plan will fail and your child will continue on with their prior sleeping habits. But having a solid partner who is supporting you and even better, helping you with the plan, will allow for a successful training.
- Stay Consistent. Consistency is the one word I use most often when it comes to teaching children how to sleep. Our babies don’t know what we are saying to them but they do see our actions. Seeing the same response each time will teach them how to do what we want them to do. Worst thing you can do is change your plan a million times. You can tweak certain items, but make your approach the same so that your child can easily understand what you are trying to teach them. And once they are responding to the training, stick to it. Don’t steer away from what works and get back into your old habits. Follow through with your approach and your child will sleep better.
Owner and Lead Sleep Consultant, The Cradle Coach LLC.