Before you became a parent, you probably had a very specific idea of how life was going to look once your baby arrived. But the funny thing about expectation versus reality is that they rarely ever match. So why should things be any different when it comes to what you pictured your baby's sleep schedule would be like? That's why there are quite a few things sleep experts wish people knew about sleep training, as there is a fair amount of misinformation out there. Whether you're a proponent of sleep training or a parent-to-be who is weighing out their future options, you might be surprised at what these experts have to say.
If you're not familiar with the term, sleep training is "the process of helping a baby learn to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night," according to Baby Center. Of course there are a million different variations when it comes to what type of method you want to use to get your baby on a regular bedtime routine. From sticking with the Cry It Out (CIO) method to setting a simple sleep schedule for your baby, there certainly are plenty of options. Regardless of what you end up landing on, check out what these experts want you to know about sleep training.
1. It Doesn't Happen Overnight
Like most good things in life, apparently a good night's sleep comes to those who wait, too. "I wish people knew that sleep training is a process and if there isn't a right plan in place, old habits will resurface," sleep expert A.C. Brown tells Romper. It might be tempting to throw in the towel when things get rough, but consistency just might be your best bet.
2. There's More Than One Way
I was surprised that most of my friends assumed the CIO method was synonymous with sleep training. As pediatric sleep expert Krista Guenther tells Romper, the two are not the same. "There are a whole host of strategies that make going to sleep and staying asleep easier," she says. "Things like great nap timing, an ideal sleep environment, or calming sleep routines — those little things are the big things in terms of sleep training." As always, you know what works best for you and your baby.
3. Consider Colored Light
Some children need a little light to fall asleep, but Dr. Robert Oexman, the director of the Sleep To Live Institute, suggests you opt for a patticular hue. "If you feel the need for a night light in the bedroom purchase a 'low blue light' night light," he tells Romper. "The blue wave spectrum of light is what decreases the production of melatonin — which is necessary for sleep." Your little one will benefit from a more sleep-friendly glow.
4. Know When To Change
There's a difference between being a consistent parent and making yourself unnecessarily miserable in the process. "If you're happy with your current sleep situation, that's OK," certified sleep consultant Christine Stevens tells Romper. "But if you're exhausted, frustrated, and dread nighttime, then it's probably time to make a change, After all, no one benefits from a family that is too sleep deprived to properly function.
5. Take Age Into Account
As pediatrician in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center Dr. Lauren Kupersmith tells Romper, age plays a role in when a baby sleeps and how often they do it. "It really isn’t necessary to set a strict schedule until they are closer to 4 or 6 months of age," she says. "It is [also] important for an infant to nap approximately every two hours, but that schedule may change day to day depending on when [they] first wake up in the morning." Of course, if you feel like something might be off with your child's sleep, check with a medical professional to rule out anything irregular.
6. Alter Your Vocabulary
One of the main things this sleep expert wants you to know about your baby's bedtime involves getting rid of a certain mindset. "'My baby should sleep through the night,' is the most confusing term in the entire sleep training world," sleep consultant Alanna McGinn tells Romper. "You don’t sleep straight through the night and neither does your baby." It's totally normal for your little one to stir throughout the night, and sleep training simply helps them learn how to soothe themselves back to bed.
7. Sleep Is Not Selfish
Once you become a parent, you can't really tap out when things get rough — but it's OK to feel that way. "I wish people understood that it is not shameful, lazy, or neglectful to desire consolidated nighttime sleep for everyone in the family," pediatric sleep consultant Lauren Stauffer tells Romper. Again, find what works for you and your little one and ignore any haters.
8. You Matter Too
"Parents really don't value their own sleep," Yale sleep physician Dr. Craig Canapari tells Romper. "There's this perception that, if your child is sleeping poorly, you don't have the right to do anything about it." He further explains that, "if you're exhausted, it's a problem." Remember, you're a better parent when you take care of yourself.