Ever thought about sleep training your baby but didn’t know where to start? I was there, I was you, and I was really, really tired.
When Kennedy turned 5 months old I finally bit the bullet and purchased a sleep training course and taught Kennedy how to sleep independently. It was glorious and you can read all about it right here: How I got my baby from sleeping out of my armpit and into her crib.
But before you make the decision to sleep train, I wanted to provide you with a resource of frequently asked questions parents have about sleep training. I was able to interview sleep expert, Jamie Spears from Nest and Nod who gives us all the answers to your baby sleep questions.
1. What exactly is “sleep training” there is a lot of contradictory information out there…
I think sleep training gets a bad rap sometimes because people only think of the Ferber method or “cry it out.” Truth is, there is a lot of science behind pediatric sleep and several other methods that can be helpful in gently teaching your child to be able to sleep independently. I also think that some parents get pressured into sleep training when they aren’t ready. I want to stress that rocking your baby to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night to soothe your crying baby and feeding/nursing them to sleep are not bad things! But, if they are no longer working for you there are other options and I can support you along the way. I would describe sleep training as teaching your baby or child to sleep independently and to be able to put themselves back to sleep if they wake. This means uninterrupted and quality sleep for naps and bedtime. The result is a happy healthy child and a well rested parent.
2. What got you started with sleep training babies?
My first baby was a breeze. She basically sleep trained herself. Loved sleeping and would actually ask to take a nap or go to bed. So, I figured my second would be that same way. I could not have been more wrong. She was born two weeks before Covid came to the US and everything was shut down. I was isolated at home with a toddler and a newborn who did not sleep. We were both so sleep deprived and I didn’t know how to help her or me. Then, the 4 month regression hit and I became desperate for some sleep. I contacted a sleep coach and she gave us a plan to follow and walked me through the whole process. I am not exaggerating when I say it was life changing. Consistent schedules. Great naps. Sleeping through the night. Time to myself after the kids went to bed or when they were napping. The list goes on. My mental health improved and my baby was no longer an overtired, fussy, and miserable baby. Her personality started shining and I felt like our bond got stronger. Before I was a stay at home mom, my previous profession was a nurse, helping people is in my DNA. I also love teaching and as a nurse I got to do a lot of that with my patients. My husband actually nudged me to get certified and I’m so grateful for his vote of confidence. I wanted to help other parents and teach them what I had learned and know to really work. It is really a perfect fit for me. I love what I do.
3. Can you explain what the benefits of sleep training are?
The benefits are many for both baby and parents. Schedules and consistency help babies and children feel more secure and know what to expect next. Children thrive on consistency so you will find that you will have a more content baby or toddler if they are on a great schedule. You as a parent will also appreciate the schedule as you will be able to be out and about when your child is rested and happy. Sleep training also allows for your baby or toddler to be able to fall asleep in their own bed independently. Learning to self soothe will help your baby into toddlerhood and childhood. Toddlers who are able to self soothe have less explosive tantrums than toddlers who have not learned this skill. Everyone gets more sleep! Yes, it is important for your child to get the sleep they need but it’s also important for the parents to get rest too. You cannot pour from an empty glass. You are the best version of yourself when you are well rested. Sure, parenthood does mean less sleep in general. But it doesn’t have to mean sleep deprived. For your child or yourself.
4. When can you start sleep training or teaching babies to sleep well? Is there an ideal age?
You can start teaching great sleep habits as soon as your baby is born. The newborn sleep guide I offer helps you do this. But, if you find yourself struggling a little later, I typically recommend that your baby be at least 3 months or 12lbs. At this age, they are developmentally mature enough to go through the night with no feedings.
5. Can you share the sleep needs for different ages with us? How much should they be getting?
From newborn to 3 months offer as many naps as baby wants. They sleep a lot at this age and this is normal. It is also normal for them to wake 1-3 times during the night until age 3 months. From 4-6 months babies need 3 naps totaling 3-4 hours. 7-9 months babies start transitioning from 3 naps to 2 naps totaling 2-3 hours. 9-14 months 2 naps totaling 2-3 hours. 15-18+ months 1 nap 2-3 hours. Up until this point 11-12 hours of nightly sleep is recommended. 2-3 years 1 nap 1-2 hours. 3-4 years typically drop the nap at this point. Parents or caregivers should still offer an hour of “quiet time”. From 2-4 years it’s typical for nighttime sleep hours to decrease. Only about 10 hours is needed at this point.
6. Can you describe your process for us when you work with a family?
When a parent reaches out to me via my website or through social media, I try to set up a consult call as soon as possible. This consult call is where I find out if my services are a good fit for you and your child. I will ask you a ton of questions and really try to get to know you and your child. I love connecting with parents at this point because I’ve been there too. I try to let them know that I’ve walked through this season and I’m here to help them as much as they need me. We discuss their child’s sleep difficulties, their personality, the parenting style, how much support they think they will need and what my packages include. They will then decide what package fits them best. I then send them an intake form to gather even more information I will need to determine which sleep training method is best. I also require a three day log for children under 2. This helps me pinpoint wake windows and patterns to sleep, eat, and wake that the parents may not have caught onto. This helps me develop a detailed daily schedule centered around your family’s daily activities and the child’s sleep needs. Once I have the log I create a detailed sleep plan tailored to you child. We then pick a date to implement the plan. Supporting the parents along the way.
7. There are so many methods of sleep training out there, and many sleep coaches too… how do parents know which sleep training method and consultant is right for them and their family?
Most sleep consultants offer a free consult call to discuss your child’s sleep difficulties, your goals, and their methods. Contact as many as you think you need to. Most sleep consultants are well educated on several different sleep training methods and will determine which method is the most efficient and best-suited for your child’s age and temperament as well as your parenting style.
8. What should parents consider or ask themselves before starting sleep training?
Are you ok with SOME crying. Crying is so normal for babies and toddlers. Babies come out crying because their environment has changed. They cry when they are uncomfortable or hungry. That’s how they communicate. If you are a mom of a toddler you also know they cry. A lot. They can’t wear the blue shirt or they got the wrong sippy cup. There’s no way we can tell a 4 month old or a 2 year old it’s time to go to bed and lay them down without them putting up a protest. Don’t worry. There are many methods that allow you to still be there for your child and reassure them. You must also be willing to be completely consistent with the plan for at least two weeks. Training requires consistency to see fast results. The parents must also be ready. If they are on the fence about it they probably not ready to implement the plan and be consistent.
9. For the parents who think sleep training is right for their baby, how/where should they start.
You can start working on the foundations of healthy sleep as soon as baby is born. Laying the right groundwork ensures that you don’t HAVE to sleep train later. If you do find yourself a few months or years down the road and need help from a sleep consultant with your child’s sleep, do your research and make sure you are comfortable with that person. Also, ask yourself how much 1:1 support you think you may need. There are many options such as online courses or webinars where you are given the info and you implement it. Then, there are sleep consultants/coaches who are there to support you and walk you through the whole process until you get it right. I am certified through The Cradle Coach who is renowned for helping babies get sleep. You can check their website to find a list of certified pediatric sleep consultants to choose from.
If you’re looking to get started with sleep training visit https://www.nestandnodsleep.com/ or schedule a free consultation with Jamie, today! You won’t regret getting the rest you need to be the badass mom you were born to be.
Want to know what lead me to sleep training and all of the sleep products I used to get Kennedy sleeping through the night? Click here to read about my sleep training experience.