New Year's Resolutions (Like Sleep Training) Made Easier: Part Two. Make a Workable Plan Customized To Your Family.
In my previous blog post, I talked about how doing “thought work” has changed my life, and how it can make sleep training, or any big life change, a lot easier.
In this blog post, I’ll talk about figuring out how to actually execute the changes necessary to change your life. And your sleep.
First off, I recommend that you do daily thought downloads and thought models every single day. They help me stay motivated and I know they will help you, too. I would love to hear yours -- post in the comments below!
Secondly, you need to figure out how to execute the dramatic changes you wish to make in your life.
There is no one right answer to this. It really depends on you and your style.
Are you a rip-off-the-bandaid kind of person that would rather get the pain over and done with? Then you might consider doing an extinction-style method of sleep training. This method involves putting your baby to bed and not returning until morning.
Critics say that this method is cruel, but evidence-based research shows that short-term crying associated with sleep training is not dangerous and doesn’t hurt a child’s attachment to her parents.
Proponents say that extinction-style sleep training is the fastest method and involves the least amount of crying, overall, for children. And gets children (and their parents) the sleep they need in the least amount of time. Because it’s quick, it is more likely that parents can remain consistent long enough to get the training completed.
Others prefer a more gradual approach. For children older than four months, this typically involves sitting on a chair next to the crib every time the child is in the crib but not yet asleep. Every few days, the parent moves the chair further from the crib until eventually, they are in the hall and out of sight. At that point, the parent is free to leave the chair but can still call out to verbally reassure the child if needed.
Fans of this method like that the child can see the parent and doesn’t feel alone, especially if the child is accustomed to co-sleeping. Dissenters feel like this method takes too long and thus, is harder on both the child -- who is upset to see the parent and not be picked up -- and the parent, who has to be consistent for many nights in a row and can’t even read or look at a screen while sitting in the chair.
Some folks fall in the middle, choosing to leave the room but return briefly to check on the child at ever-increasing intervals of time. This is slower than extinction but faster than the chair method.
There is no one “correct” method. Every family is different. Only you know what is right for your family.
Regardless of the method chosen, families will want to make sure that bedtime, morning wake time, and naptimes are optimized to catch the child at just the right moment, tired but not overtired. Naptimes and bedtimes at inappropriate times can create overtiredness, which means cortisol, the “stress hormone,” makes it harder for the child to fall asleep and stay asleep.
But every child, and every parent, needs great sleep. Great sleep is a gift to the entire family.
Let’s make 2020 a well-rested year for your family. Schedule a free consult and see how we can get your family the sleep you deserve.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and former NICU nurse. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.