I am asked this question all the time. From moms of newborns, toddlers, school-age children…no matter the age, so many moms are asking this question. They want to know: “When should I sleep train? Is there a right age? When is too late? Are we too early?
So today, I want to talk about when a professional Sleep Consultant recommends you begin sleep training.
Everyone has a different opinion on when you should begin sleep training. Some people say you can’t sleep train too early. Some people say that once your child is past a certain age, sleep training won’t work. So let’s dive into what sleep training actually is, and how you know it’s time to give it a try for your family.
First of all, sleep training is teaching the skills your child needs to develop independent, healthy sleep habits. Sleep is a skill set that can be taught. Sleep training teaches your child how to fall asleep on their own and stay asleep through the night. Although there a plenty of different sleep training methods, the goal of every method is to help your child establish these core sleep skills.
So, when can you start teaching your child healthy sleep habits? Here are the two biggest ways you’ll know when it’s time to start sleep training:
1. You Are Ready
This may seem like a no-brainer, but as a parent, you personally need to be ready for sleep training. A lot of parents reach out to me when they are at the end of their rope. They’ve tried every other solution they can think of and nothing is working. They’re willing to try anything to reclaim their sleep.
Parents also need to be ready to commit to doing the work that make sleep training so successful. Sleep training isn’t always easy at first, but the long-term results are worth it. Many parents shy away from sleep training or fail to follow through because they aren’t ready to commit to the consistency that sleep training requires. Sleep training can be emotional, so having the right mindset going into it and leaning on support (whether from your partner or a professional Sleep Coach) can help you be more successful when things get tough.
2. Your Pediatrician Says It’s Okay
Before beginning sleep training, you will want to get permission from your pediatrician. At Sleep at Last, what we do is not medical. We are not medical professionals, so we do not look for medical reasons why your child may not be sleeping well. Sometimes, there are medical conditions that may be disrupting your child’s sleep, and a pediatrician can diagnose and treat those issues. At Chasing Dreams, we focus on behavioral approaches, which will only go so far if there is an underlying medical condition that is going untreated. So, reach out to your pediatrician to make sure they can sign off on sleep training and rule out any medical reasons for why your family is losing sleep.
Once both of those things are in place, you’re probably ready to start sleep training. However, as a Sleep Consultant, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Here are a few situations that I see that could prevent you from beginning sleep training, even if you are personally ready and
3. All the Opinions
As a mom, I know that there are opinions about nearly every aspect of being a parent. Some people just don’t jive with the idea of sleep training. And those people might be your mom, your friend, your pediatrician…and they may have pretty loud opinions about it. But at the end of the day, you have to go with your gut and do what you know is right for you. Mom shaming is real, but I know we are all out here trying to do our best. No two families are the same, and no two children are the same, so what worked for your friend may not work for you. And that’s okay. So I encourage you to ignore the “haters” and do your research so you can make an informed decision for your family. And if sleep training makes sense for you, I’m here when you’re ready.
4. You Heard You Need to Wait Until 6 Months
If your baby is younger than 6 months, your pediatrician (and some other Sleep Consultants) may recommend that you wait until your baby is older to begin sleep training. At 6 months, most babies can go through the night without a night feeding. A lot of people believe that sleep training won’t be effective until your baby is capable of sleeping through the night, because sleeping through the night is the whole point of sleep training, right? Well, actually no. The goal of sleep training is to build healthy sleep habits, and you can actually begin sleep training and start establishing healthy sleep habits earlier than 6 months.
That being said, there is a lot that goes into newborn and infant sleep. There are a lot of feedings and a lot of naps. At Chasing Dreams, I create an individual sleep schedule tailored to your child, that is appropriate for their age and stage of development because every child is different. I don’t want you to go without sleep any longer than you have to, so even if your child is not 6 months old, we can work together to find a solution and create a solid foundation for sleep success throughout their life.
5. You’re Worried It’s Too Late
It is never too late to help your child learn healthy sleep habits. If your child is a toddler (older than 18 months) or even school-age, there are approaches we can use to target your specific sleep struggle and find an age-appropriate solution. Often, at this age you’re dealing with little ones who are pushing their boundaries and dealing with discipline. I can help you work through those issues when it comes to sleep, so you can stop struggling with bedtime, early morning wakings, waking through the night, and the other sleep struggles I see so often in older kids. Helping your child develop sleep skills is only going to benefit your family, no matter what age your munchkins are.
So, to answer the question “When is the right time to start sleep training?” it really depends on you and your family. But if you’re ready, your doctor has signed off, and you don’t have any other concerns…chances are it is time to take the leap. If you’re ready to get started, sign up for a FREE Sleep Evaluation with me, where we can talk about your family’s sleep struggles and discuss how sleep training would work for your family. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, and we can discuss whether it is the right time for your family to say yes to sleep training and finally get a good night’s sleep!