Redefining Sleep Training

Redefining Sleep Training

When Hadley reached out to me, I knew I liked her. Not only is she an American living in France (très chic!), she’s also a badass “mompreneur” who started her own business while abroad: Bonne Nuit Baby.

 

So here’s the deal: Bonne Nuit Baby is gifting a FREE SLEEP TRAINING CONSULT to one lucky Unpacified family!

 

After surviving the great sleep battle with her own son, Hadley decided she wanted to offer support and guidance to other parents struggling with baby and toddler sleep issues. Most importantly, she wanted to remain sensitive to the fact that how we choose to teach our children to sleep is a very personal decision. Today, Hadley is a certified sleep expert (through the Family Sleep Institute), a health coach and trained in lactation management.

 

The consult includes a one-hour sleep evaluation (via phone or video call) where Hadley will review your child’s sleep struggle, discuss goals and troubleshoot any possible issues. After this, Hadley will devise a plan that best works for your family that will help get the entire family some well deserved zzz’s.

 

To enter, comment on this post either here or on Instagram (or tag a friend who may be in need!) and subscribe to the Unpacified newsletter (the “Stay in the Know” subscription form is along the left-hand side of this article)!

 

Read on to hear more from Hadley about her approach and “sleep training” beliefs:

 

“Let’s talk about sleep training.

 

Roughly 75% of my consultations include a variation of the following conversation:

 

Parent: “…and I really can’t take it anymore. I mean, she’s not napping, she wakes up at least five times every night. All she does is scream at naptime. She won’t let her dad come anywhere near her, so the burden is all on me. We can’t leave her with a sitter. I really can’t deal anymore and I’m wondering if maybe it’s time to sleep train, but…”  [long pause]

 

Me: “…But you’re afraid that you’ll turn your baby into an emotionally-detached axe murderer?”

 

Parent: “Yes! I just clicked on this article that a friend posted on Facebook and it linked to another article and then I started googling ‘sleep training and Charles Manson’ and… ”

 

“Sleep Training” has become a dirty term!

 

Have you ever noticed that people tend to use the term in hushed tones?  (“Nancy has started sleep training her toddler… can you believe it!?”).

 

It seems to me that there’s a lot of judgment coming from both sides of the debate. Half the people I meet think it’s the best thing since sliced bread and they feel sad for the weak-willed, misinformed parents who aren’t on board with it. The other half believe it’s akin to child abuse and will talk about elevated cortisol levels for hours on end.

 

Which camp is right? Well, neither.

 

Let’s strip away the emotional baggage from the term and explore what it really means. Sleep training = teaching your child to sleep independently. It’s just like potty training; you’re imparting a new skill to your child. There’s no moral imperative here:  if you want your child to sleep independently, super!  If you don’t think she’s ready, that’s ok! Sleep is an intensely personal subject, not a public debate.

 

Ok, let’s say I’m open to the idea. Now what?

 

Obviously, the actual process of sleep training is more complicated than that. (If it were so simple, I wouldn’t have a job).  Children are complex beings and each family situation is different.  Getting a good night’s sleep is both an art and a science.

 

The first step to solving any sleep problem is ensuring that your child is on an age-appropriate sleep schedule. Daytime and nighttime sleep are equally important. Think of them as building blocks—take away one and the other will eventually tumble. It’s important to implement a solid sleep schedule in parallel with sleep training; otherwise, there’s a good chance it won’t work.

 

Now comes the tricky part: How do you want to teach your child this new skill?

 

No matter which method you choose, consistency is the key to success. This doesn’t mean you can’t troubleshoot along the way (that’s what I spend most of my day helping clients to do), but the most important thing is that you have to remain steady. If you don’t, it can a create a confusing and unfair situation for your child, which will almost always derail the progress. For example, if you decide you’re no longer going to nurse your child to sleep and stick to that for three days, but on the fourth day give in, then afterwards your child will be flummoxed (rightly so) if you once again withhold your liquid gold at bedtime.

 

Still with me? Here are the sleep training methods that, in my experience, will establish healthy sleep habits for the long-term and solve most common sleep problems:

 

Extinction (aka “Cry. It. Out!”): This method advocates letting the baby settle himself with no intervention from the parents. Almost always the fastest solution, but not all parents are ready to let their children cry for prolonged periods of time.

 

Best for:  Older babies and toddlers or children with very stubborn personalities; parents who need a solution ASAP.

 

Partial extinction (aka timed checks or Ferber method): This method advocates leaving the child’s bedroom for increasingly longer intervals of time while he settles himself to sleep.

 

Best for:  Timed checks can work for most babies and parents, provided the intervals are age-appropriate (shorter for babies, longer for toddlers). This is the method most of my clients choose.

 

Chair method: This method advocates the parent remaining in the room, sitting in a chair, while the child settles himself to sleep. Every few days, the parent moves the chair a few feet further away from the crib towards the door. This is a gradual method so progress is usually measured in weeks, not days.

 

Best for: Babies or toddlers moving from a family bed to their own crib; parents who don’t believe in leaving their child alone to cry for any length of time.

 

When making the decision about which method you want to use, you need to take not only your parenting style into account, but also your child’s personality. Is she super stubborn and becomes upset or agitated when you go in to check on her?  Then she may be better off settling herself with less intervention. Is she transitioning from happily co-sleeping to the cold, hard reality of her own crib? Then she may require your presence while she learns how to sleep on her own. Be honest with yourself about what will work best for your child—it may not be the scenario you initially imagined, but it’s oftentimes the most effective method.

 

Or, maybe after reading all this, you’ve decided sleep training isn’t for you. That’s okay too!

 

Go with your gut. Follow your mama instincts. Does sleep training work on almost all babies? Yes. Does that mean it’s always the right choice? Absolutely not. So, whatever you decide, it’s cool. I won’t judge, and no one else should either.”

 

Hadley Seward is a certified sleep consultant who works with exhausted moms and dads. Based in France, she helps parents across Europe and North America to get their children’s sleep back on track. Meet her + learn more at bonnenuitbaby.com.

 

To register for Bonne Nuit Baby’s Free Sleep Consult please comment on this post either here or on Instagram (or tag a friend who may be in need!) and subscribe to the Unpacified newsletter! (The “Stay in the Know” subscription form is along the left-hand side of this article.

 

Happy Slumbers!

 

 

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8 comments
  • VL

    September 8th, 2016 21:20

    Please! My baby is going through a sleep regression, and nothing is helping!

    Reply
  • Ashley Kraus

    September 8th, 2016 21:25

    Would love a consultation for my 4-month-old!

    Reply
  • Danielle

    September 8th, 2016 21:52

    I would be so interested to know what a sleep professional has to say about our little ones slee issues! I love your blog so much. I've learned so much and can't wait to keep reading!!

    Reply
  • Carly

    September 9th, 2016 7:44

    Ahhh I would love love love a sleep consultation for our five month old! I've read a million books and blogs and sites and am so #overit. It's exhausting! Looking forward to reading and learning more about Hadley and her biz!

    Reply
  • Lesley

    September 10th, 2016 3:23

    Any tips for an older (5 years) child who is struggling some with staying asleep at night?

    Reply
  • SaraH Piecznski

    September 12th, 2016 15:54

    My youngest is 5 months old and does not get enough zzzs during the day because of his 2 older sisters ages 3 &5. Always so loud and fighting over everything!! Now that the oldest started kindergarten a few weeks ago, things have been better. But once the weeken rolls around.. It's starts all over again. Baby boy is so fussy because he doesn't get his sleep. I would love to be chosen for the consultation with Hadley. Thank you! Good luck everyone! 💗

    Reply
  • Ricky S

    February 7th, 2017 21:08

    I think that the majority of people totally underestimate just how crucial sleep actually is. Our bodies need solid sleep in order to repair damaged tissue, rejuvenate our cells, and grow muscle – along with so many other processes. On top of that, anyone who has at any point had to deal with a night of restless sleep knows just how agonizing it can be to get up bright and early, get your day started, and be able to concentrate on the work you need to concentrate on. While I was doing research for a recent article, I discovered that the CDC has presented data proving that 33 of adults do not sleep nearly as well as they need to. It is punishing how bad we're harming ourselves when we do not get enough peaceful shut-eye.

    Reply

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