Frequently Asked Questions: Sleep Training Your Child
We've compiled some of the most frequent sleep training questions we receive from parents.
Q: Do I have to sleep train in order to make sure my child gets enough sleep? Will my child be a horrible sleeper if I don’t sleep train?
A: Not necessarily! How well a child sleeps depends on many factors. The way in which a child falls asleep at the beginning of the night is one of those factors. There are children who fall asleep with parental help at the beginning of the night and still manage to sleep well. However, in the vast majority of cases we see where night waking is listed as a sleep issue, we find that eliminating parental help at bedtime considerably improves night waking.
Q: Will sleep training damage my bond with my child?
A: Helping your child learn and maintain healthy sleep habits in a loving and mindful way is just one way to encourage a deep bond. No matter which sleep training method you choose, we always encourage parents to use the pre-bedtime routine to snuggle up and enjoy their baby, including feeding or rocking - just not all the way to sleep.
It’s normal for children to object when we change established routines; some fussing and/or crying is often (though not always) part of the process when sleep training. In our customized sleep plans we offer many ways to reduce tears so that parents aren’t asked to go outside their comfort zones in order to effect change.
Q: I feel pressure to sleep train by a certain age. Am I doomed if I wait to change our habits?
A: While some age groups present unique challenges (hello eight and nine month olds that just dropped their third nap, started pulling up in their cribs and are cutting multiple teeth!) it's never too late to change habits. We help children as old as five years old change their routines and improve sleep.
The one caveat to this is changing nap time habits for children two years old and up. At this age, many children will skip their nap entirely rather than learn a new way to fall asleep during the day - even if it creates havoc on their mood and ability to sleep well at night.
Q: I sleep trained at bedtime, but my child still wakes at night. Now what?
A: As we’ve mentioned before, a bedtime sleep association is just one factor (albeit an important one) we consider when determining the cause of disrupted sleep. When evaluating a child’s case, our experts look at a variety of possible sleep disruptors including the child’s schedule, the possibility of hunger and the consistency to which the skills are applied throughout the night.
Q: Isn’t it a myth that babies can self-soothe? I think I need to let all my Instagram followers know it’s a myth. All parents need to do is hold their babies more, right?!
A: Nope. It’s not a myth. And while we’re all about cuddling your babies as much as possible, holding your baby to sleep every night can contribute to some brutal sleep deprivation once you’re beyond the newborn stage. That’s not good for anyone, especially parents dealing with postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety.
Q: What are the most common sleep training methods?
A: 1. Fading aka the Gradual Method: slowly weaning away from helping your child fall asleep (usually over a couple of weeks or more) until they can fall asleep independently. 2. Ferber aka Controlled Crying or Check and Console Method: mistakenly referred to as “cry-it-out,” likely because the baby is left for periods of time and crying is expected. However, with the Ferber method and its variations, parents tend to the baby in set intervals and attempt to calm them before leaving to try again. 3. The Extinction Method aka Cry-it-out (“CIO”): This method involves leaving a child to fall asleep on their own without interventions to console the child. For a more in-depth explanation on the different methods of sleep training
We’ve helped countless babies (including our own!) learn to fall asleep without parental help when they were ready. Healthy sleep habits and adequate sleep can be life changing when you’ve been without it for any period of time.
However, if you and your baby are already getting sufficient sleep and you’re not interested in moving away from feeding or holding to sleep, we support you! Different routines work for different families and we’re not interested in pushing changes on families. We’re here to support families, no matter what direction their sleep journey takes them.
In most cases, the only thing simple about sleep is knowing that we need more of it! For parents looking for a full analysis and customized plan to improve sleep, choose Huckleberry's Premium membership. We provide a holistic approach that considers your individual family's goals as well as your parenting style.