Getting enough sleep is such an important component to living with your new family member. However, your new little one doesn’t always know how to do this right away. Sleep training may be great way to help ensure everyone is getting the sleep they need – even parents!
Before you start sleep training your child you want to have a few things in place. Make sure you’ve checked with your child’s pediatrician. Verify there isn’t a medical issue preventing your child from sleeping or one that is waking them up. Also, how long they can go at night without a feed. The other important components to consider before sleep training are your, upcoming travel, evening and guest plans. Sleep training depends on a time period of consistency at home when you are available every evening. The length of time it takes to sleep train varies from child to child and household to household, but you can set yourself up for success by focusing on a series of regular evenings. Once you have eliminated any potential medial restrictions and have a committed time frame available, you are ready to make a plan.
A typical sleep plan will have similar components to it; a developmentally appropriate schedule, a relaxing bedtime routine, and most importantly, a plan for responding to those middle of the night wakings. Depending on temperament and family values, you can choose a method that works for both you and your child. I enjoy getting to know my families as I help them all get their much needed sleep.
Working with a sleep coach to assess your child’s temperament and family values and to create a plan that best fits can be very helpful for exhausted parents. As you work with your new plan, prepare to be consistent and avoid intermittent reinforcement. Consistency helps your baby or toddler to quickly learn the skill you are teaching them. As a part of my sleep coaching I offer follow up support to review sleep logs and answer questions that may arise during the training. I often find myself reassuring parents that things are going as expected. Occasionally, we will need to tweak or change the plan due to sickness or parental concerns.
My focus is to guide parents every step of the way during sleep training their child(ren). As a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach I will NOT encourage parents to leave your child alone in the dark to cry themselves to sleep. I prefer more “gentler” methods of encouraging self-soothing. Going to sleep is a learned skill. Our kiddos learn to sit up, crawl, and walk, and we are there alongside them to encourage and offer opportunities to learn these skills. Likewise, as you stay with your child and support them, I will coach you in finding the best way to support your child while they learn how to put themselves to sleep for nights, naps, and middle of the night wakings.
As a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach it is my job to be up to date with the current research, read the MANY sleep training books, and be able to accurately assess your child and families needs when it comes to sleep training. If you are feeling, confused, overwhelmed, and just plain tired, my Sleep Consulting services may just be the plan you need!
By Julie Kennedy,
Pediatric Sleep Consultant
Serving the Seattle Area, 509-939-8356