Sleep training is no easy feat. It is difficult for many parents to even decide to sleep train in the first place, regardless of which method they go with. Sometimes, gaining a third opinion from someone who has truly seen it all can bring clarity and confidence to parents questioning their decision. Knowing what questions about sleep training you should ask your pediatrician can be tricky though. They're not sleep experts, per se, but they've undoubtedly seen and studied enough in their practice — and perhaps their real life as well — to know a thing or two about getting children to sleep well.
Of course, the role of a pediatrician isn't to tell you how to raise your child, so don't take their advice as set-in-stone rules you have to follow. Simply take it as an objective third party offering their seasoned advice.
More often than not, parents are exhausted and want to help their babies (and themselves) sleep better at night. The trick is determining the best methods and learning when and how to apply them. Talking with a pediatrician may help de-bunk common sleep training myths (like believing that "cry it out" equates to letting your child scream themselves to sleep) and can bring some much needed clarity — and hopefully some extra Zs — to your family's sleep.
1. "How Old Should My Baby Be When I Sleep Train?"
Although the ages that parents decide to sleep train their babies will vary from family to family, there is definitely a point when a child is too young. Asking your pediatrician if they think the timing is right can give you an extra confidence boost moving forward.
2. "Which Method(s) Should We Try First?"
There are as many sleep training methods out there are there are babies. Well, almost. And to a researching parent, the options can seem endless. Asking your pediatrician their opinion and experience with the various methods may help in narrowing your options.
3. "Can I Night Nurse After Sleep Training?"
If you want to continue to nurse or bottle feed your child at night, you may be wondering how sleep training will impact that. Asking your pediatrician can help you figure out a schedule and a plan for keeping up your milk supply.
4. "What About Nap Time?"
Contrary to popular belief, sleep training for nap time doesn't usually look the same as it does for nighttime sleep training. For some parents it's simpler, for others it's more complicated. Running your baby's habits and preferences when it comes to sleep by your pediatrician can help bring some clarity about what you should do for both.
6. "Will Crying It Out Be Harmful?"
Although your doctor obviously can't make the decision for you, depending on their personal opinions about various CIO methods, they may be able to give you direction about which CIO or gentle CIO approach would work best for you.
7. "Do I Have To Sleep Train?"
Naturally, sleep training isn't for everyone. But many parents feel it's their only option to help their baby sleep for longer stretches. Talking with your pediatrician might bring more options to light that you didn't know existed before.