Updated: Apr 22
The term “sleep training” is a broad and often sensationalized term.
When we talk about sleep training, what we’re really talking about is making adjustments to how our little ones fall asleep and/or making adjustments to their timings for sleep.
Some parents may hear the term sleep training and instantly recoil thinking “no way am I sleep training my child, I don't want to leave them crying for hours on end!” but I can assure you, that is not the true definition, or intent behind sleep training!
When most parents reach the point that they consider sleep training their child they are, first and foremost, exhausted. In addition to that, they’ve likely reached their wits end dealing with erratic and non-existent naps, bedtime meltdowns or multiple nighttime wakings leaving them traipsing the internet looking for solutions. Change in itself can be daunting and as parents, we become very attached to our way of doing things; making changes can leave us feeling apprehensive that the process might be stressful but, that needn't be the case!
As Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultants, we generally don’t use the term "sleep training" but it is a term that is pretty heavily thrown around within parenting blogs. When a family approaches me seeking support to make changes to their child’s sleep, we’re first going to spend a lot of time getting to know each other and mapping out exactly what their family’s individual sleep challenges are; be it with their infant or their preschooler, and from there we can decide, as a team, what approach we are most comfortable with in an effort to make positive changes to the way their family sleeps.
When assessing your family’s sleep challenges, we’ll be looking closely at what we call “sleep hygiene” which means habits and practices that are safe and conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.
From there, we can decide on an approach that best suits your parenting style and what you feel your child will be most receptive to in an effort to improve their overall sleep quality and habits. For some parents, that might mean a high involvement approach such as regularly timed checks or sitting in their child's room; or, for some, they might feel this will be too stimulating for their little one and a more hands off approach might be more appropriate.
Whichever method we chose as a team, there is no right or wrong approach! Any change that is successful, supportive and filled with love needn't be scary at all; we will always work at your pace and within your comfort levels. As long as we are meeting your family where you are and supporting your child’s need for healthy sleep through proven, effective and empathetic approaches, the outcome will remain the same; a Jolly Good Night’s Sleep for the whole family!