Myth Busting - Sleep Training Edition
Ciarra Morgan | May 25, 2022
Sleep training is a bad word in some circles. Many people have myths/misconceptions that I want to help break down.
Misconception #1: Sleep training means your child crying it out.
FALSE. "Cry it out" is only one method of sleep training, and parents that are comfortable with this method don't hire sleep consultants. This is not a method I suggest in any of my personalized sleep plans.
Misconception #2: Parents neglect their children and tune them out when sleep training.
FALSE: When I am your sleep consultant, I coach you and encourage you to tune IN to your child. You listen to the baby monitor. You learn their cries and hear how their fussiness changes. You access their level of need. You respond to your child and intervals you feel comfortable with. You never TUNE OUT. You TUNE IN.
Misconception #3: You're letting your child cry when sleep training.
FALSE: You're not LETTING your child cry. Your child is crying, but you're not letting them cry. You're giving your child space (whatever that looks like depending on the sleep training method we choose together) to learn to self soothe. Sometimes that means they have spurts of crying, but it's not level 10 crying for hours on end like people think. Just like you're not letting your child cry when you put them in the car seat and drive. Many children do cry when put in the car seat, but you're not letting them cry. It's important to differentiate the two. This is not neglectful or mean. It's setting boundaries around sleep just like you set boundaries around car safety, limiting screen time, healthy choices for meals rather than candy for dinner, etc.
Misconception #4: You have to night wean to sleep train.
FALSE: Babies who developmentally need to eat through the night can absolutely do so! I help families teach their children to fall asleep independently. I do not encourage parents to skip necessary feeds or ignore their child's hunger signs. Many of the small babies I've helped families sleep train still eat once or twice at night (the number of feedings depends on the child's development). These babies also fall back asleep on their own and only wake when they're hungry, not just to be soothed back to sleep.
Misconception #5: Sleep training is only successful if you put your child to sleep at night and they don't wake until morning.
FALSE: Do you sleep through the night every night? It's normal for people to wake randomly throughout the night. Maybe you need to use the restroom, but maybe you just had a light moment between sleep cycles and woke. Many of us wake in the night but don't even remember it. Children might still wake up and even make noise for a couple of minutes during the night. Waking at night is not abnormal or something we need to work to stop. The goal of many parents is to have the child be able to sleep independently. Babies that fall asleep independently can get themselves back to sleep at these little middle of the night wake ups without parent involvement. This is because those children have the skills to do so and feel safe and confident in their beds.
And this last part might surprise you coming from a sleep consultant. ANYONE can sleep train their own child. "Umm..Ciarra...why are you telling people they don't need to hire you?" I'm not. Think of it this way: Some people go to the gym and never get a personal trainer. They research exercises, best ways to train certain muscle groups, and they're self-motivated. Other people find they don't connect with it and need the motivation and support a personal trainer can provide. This is the same with sleep training. Anyone can sleep train their child, but some people don't have the time/energy/attention span to research the exact way to do it and implement it. These people need the accountability and guidance of a sleep consultant. These are the families I support.
There are many more myths/misconceptions surrounding sleep training, but we'll leave it here. I might come back and add to these over time. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about these topics. My goal is to help families feel confident in their sleep training journeys. Parents are better parents, partners, and employees when they are well rested. They are also healthier physically and mentally. Children need sleep to reach their developmental milestones and be happy, healthy children. For some families, sleep training is a matter of mental health and is not something that should be shamed or judged.
I'm here to help if you find yourself identifying with any of the descriptions above, or if you just want more information about sleep training to decide if it's a good fit for you.
Ciarra Morgan, TLCD, HBCE, CSC
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