What Is “Sleep Training” and Do I Have To Do It?

A question we get asked often is do I have to sleep train my baby? To answer that, we begin by clarifying what sleep training is. Essentially sleep training involves using strategies to “train” baby to fall asleep independently at bedtime and fall back to sleep independently when they wake up at night. Sleep training has a bad reputation as it’s history stems from cry it out methods. However not every method to sleep train involves leaving baby to cry. Some methods are very gentle and flexible that allows baby to cry while being supported by Mom and/or Dad. Is crying necessary? No of course not. But babies don’t like change just like some of us adults don’t. So when making changes, even with the most gentle approaches babies might cry as it’s not what they are used to. But improving sleep while comforting baby is possible.

At Little Dandelion, that is exactly our approach. We work with baby, at baby’s own pace, to improve sleep for the whole family. We don’t leave baby to cry. And we don’t compromise values.

That brings us to the second part of the question, “do I have to sleep train?” The answer to that is no, of course not. Babies will eventually learn to fall asleep independently. When that happens depends on the specific baby. Some will learn that skill within a year, others will learn it when they are 3 years old after some toddler bedtime battles. What’s important to consider when deciding if sleep training is right for you and baby is are you happy with your bedtime routine with baby? Are you happy with how night wakings go? Do you want a change? In other words, it’s only a problem if it’s not working for you anymore. And if you do decide to sleep train, what method is best for you and baby? We don’t recommend any CIO strategy, or timed checks. We prefer a more gentle approach that has you and baby working together to make a change.

In fact, you can even say we don’t sleep train, rather we sleep coach. We don’t believe babies need to be trained to sleep independently. We believe they need support in learning how to fall asleep independently. Falling asleep independently is a skill which can be taught through coaching, not training. At Little Dandelion we make that distinction as we want to be clear we don’t use any form of sleep training that uses cry it out or tells parents to go against their parental instincts. We sleep coach babies to sleep independently when they are developmentally able to do so. We also coach parents on how to coach their babies in a way that aligns with their values and instincts.

Change is possible, and it can be done without traditional sleep training. If you want to learn more about how we can support positive change in your baby’s sleep, contact us today!