Sleep Training Q&A with Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens•
Posted on March 31 2022
What is sleep training?
Sleep training is the act of teaching a baby or toddler to fall asleep independently. There is a lot of heated debate around this topic because many associate sleep training with letting a baby “cry it out.” It is true that babies and toddlers often cry while learning to fall asleep independently, but they most certainly don’t need to be left alone during this process. If a baby is used to falling asleep while nursing, it may be a good idea to try and rock the baby to sleep instead. This may produce crying as the baby would prefer to nurse to sleep, but the baby is being fully supported as they practice falling asleep in a new way. Any tears are likely due to frustration and this is usually short lived. Then once that baby has become comfortable with being rocked to sleep, the parent can just sit with the baby and shush in their ear without the movement. This is just one example of “sleep training” but hopefully it illustrates that sleep training is not always what parents imagine.
When is the best time to start sleep training?
There is no perfect time to start the sleep training process. The best time to teach your baby or toddler to fall asleep independently is when you feel ready to make a change. This could be because you want to establish healthy and independent sleep hygiene from an early age, or perhaps the way your child is currently sleeping no longer feels sustainable. Most pediatricians recommend that you work on this between 4-6 months of age. It’s also important to note that sleep training and night weaning are not the same thing. Many babies learn how to fall asleep and back to sleep independently but are still in need of a feed or two overnight.
What is an optimal sleep environment?
All babies under one year old should sleep alone in a crib, bassinet or pack n play. There shouldn’t be any toys, blankets, bumpers or pillows inside the sleep space. If they are not yet rolling, it is safe for the baby to remain swaddled, and pacifiers are always considered safe for sleep. After a year, babies are allowed to have a small blanket but it’s still safest for them to sleep without one. A sleep sack is a great safe alternative to a blanket for both infants and toddlers. The room should be dark, and the optimal temperature for sleep is 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Toddlers should remain in their cribs as long as it remains a safe space for them. If a toddler is climbing out of their crib it is best to transition them to a bed in a baby-proofed room.
What is Overtiredness?
Overtiredness is a term that we hear a lot when discussing infant and toddler sleep. When babies and toddlers are over-tired, it actually makes it even more difficult for them to fall asleep independently. In an ideal scenario, a baby is put down for sleep before they are crying hysterically from exhaustion. Watch for those sleepy cues (yawns, tugging at the ears, red eyebrows, glassy eyes) and see if you can get your baby into the crib at or before that very first cue! We want our babies going down for sleep when they are calm, relaxed, but still very much awake.
Best tips and tricks for sleep training:
The key to being successful while sleep training is to pick a sleep training method that aligns with your parenting style. Parents who attempt to sleep train using a technique that isn’t comfortable for them typically fail as they struggle to remain consistent. It’s also incredibly important to do your research before getting started. Make sure you have a full understanding of the method rather than just “winging it.” If you don’t understand how to implement the sleep training technique, that will make it harder to be successful. Lastly, make sure you have support. This support could be a best friend or a spouse, or a Certified Sleep Consultant.
Why would a family want or need to hire a Sleep Consultant?
Sleep Consultants support parents through the process of establishing healthy and independent sleep habits for their children. There is SO much information in books, on blogs, and circulated amongst friends that it can feel very overwhelming to know how to handle infant and toddler sleep struggles. Parents may be struggling to get their infant to sleep in the crib, or perhaps their toddler is crying lots at bedtime and waking for the day at 5:00am. Sleep consultants also help parents with preschool-aged children that are scared to sleep alone. Just as some seek support from an athletic trainer when trying to get fit, or from a lactation consultant when attempting to breastfeed, it’s absolutely understandable that a parent would want to seek support from a Sleep Consultant if they are having trouble with their little one’s sleep.
This blog post was written by Jayne Havens, owner and founder of both Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens and Center for Pediatric Sleep Management.
As a new parent, overwhelmed by exhaustion, Jayne found herself reading everything she could find in order to get her own son to sleep through the night. She applied what she learned to both of her children, implementing good sleep habits very early on. Friends quickly took notice of the fact that Jayne’s children were both fabulous sleepers, and they began coming to her for help with their own kids’ sleep challenges.
Jayne has quickly established herself as a leader in the industry, building a strong reputation for taking good care of her clients and always providing top notch service along with her expertise. She describes her approach as being very "client led,” meaning she works with families using methods that feel comfortable for them. There is no one size fits all approach to teaching a child to fall asleep and back to sleep independently. In addition to supporting families through the sleep training process, Jayne also founded the Center for Pediatric Sleep Management. Through CPSM, Jayne trains, mentors and certifies others to do this incredibly rewarding work. If you are interested in learning more about this field, you can join the Facebook group Becoming a Sleep Consultant.