Top 5 Sleep Training Mistakes
Sometimes I speak with Mamas who woefully confess “I tried sleep training my baby and it didn’t work. I guess it just doesn’t work for my baby.”
I always feel bad for these mamas. Not because they have such difficult babies, but because sleep training almost always works with healthy babies. However, it only works when its done right.
Here are the top 5 mistakes I see mamas make when they sleep train.
1. Giving up too soon. It only takes 3-5 nights of real solid consistency for a baby to start to learn new patterns and habits and create steady progress towards better sleep. However, those 3 or 4 nights can feel so challenging that parents are tempted to give up before they see immediate results. Don’t give up if you don’t see results right away. Sleep training works. It takes strength, stamina, and consistency. For best results, commit to following your plan as perfectly as possible for 2-3 weeks. This will result in huge improvements in your baby’s sleep.
2. Neglecting to create a proper sleep environment. There are elements in your baby’s room that contribute to a calmer and more conducive atmosphere for sleep. Making simple changes, like installing blackout curtains and plugging in a white noise machine can make a big difference in the length of your baby’s sleep. Check out this post to learn how to create a perfect sleep environment with just a few tweaks to your baby’s room.
3. Continuing to replace the pacifier! Sleep training when your baby still uses a pacifier may leave you just as frustrated as you were before your sleep trained. Instead of waking up to nurse or be rocked back to sleep, your baby will wake up crying for the pacifier – so what will you have achieved? If your baby needs you to replace the pacifier multiple times each night, he’s not sleeping independently. **Note- if your baby can replace the pacifier on his own, there’s no need to get rid of it.
4. Not having a clear plan. The most common scenario where sleep training doesn’t succeed is when parents neglect to clarify what their plan is before starting the process.
Before you begin, you need to be able to answer the following questions:
- what will I do at bedtime?
- what will I do for nighttime wakings?
- what will I do for early morning wakings?
- what will I do at naptime?
- exactly what procedures and steps will I take at each of those times?
5. Trying to sleep train at night, while enabling poor sleep habits for naps. Learning how to fall asleep is the same skill at night or during the day- it’s just easier to learn at night because the body pumps out more melatonin then. By rocking or nursing or soothing your baby to sleep during the day and only letting her put herself to sleep at night, you are hurting the process on two fronts.
a. You are confusing your baby. She doesn’t understand why she gets rocked to sleep at certain times and not others.
b. Each day that you help your baby fall asleep for naps, you are undoing any progress the previous night, setting you back even further.
Once you commit to sleep training your baby, do it all the way. Nights and naps together. I know, it seems hard. And it is! If sleep training was so easy, everyone’s baby would be sleeping easily. Even though it’s more strenuous to work on naps and nights simultaneously, it benefits your baby a lot more overall. The last thing you want on your hands is a baby who has more stamina from getting a full night’s sleep to use that new energy to fight naps!
So there you have it, Mama. Avoid these 5 common sleep training mistakes and you’re golden.