What is a sleep prop?
Any external tool or strategy that a child uses in order to fall asleep. When a sleep prop is not within the control of the child, they rely on the parent to provide this tool or strategy each time they wake up, and herein lies the reason they cry out for you in the night when they are still tired and want to sleep but are not capable of getting there on their own.
How old does my baby need to be to sleep train?
The answer depends on your definition of sleep training. I would define this as teaching your baby to develop healthy strategies and skills for falling asleep independently, which most often involves eliminating any and all sleep props that the child has become dependent on and prevents them from falling asleep without assistance from a parent (e.g. feeding to sleep, rocking, patting, using a pacifier, etc).
For many babies, 6-months is the age that we can safely assume that they are capable of sleeping all night without feeding. So, if you plan to sleep train your child yourself (with your pediatrician's approval), this is an appropriate age to do so (as you have probably heard from numerous sources).
Alternatively, a sleep coach can give you expert guidance for very gently teaching your baby these skills while keeping as many night-feeds as the child needs until they naturally stop waking to eat and sleep through the night on their own! Some self-soothing babies start sleeping 6-7 hour stretches by 8-weeks of age! And, most healthy babies who are gaining weight well can get 10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep by 3 to 4 months of age!
I strongly encourage you to contact me to discuss the best timing for your little one! In general, the sooner they develop these skills, the better your baby will sleep throughout their infancy and for the rest of their lives!
Do you use a "cry-it-out" approach?
This is a very common question and the short answer would be 'no'. However, if you really want to know if your child will cry at all, then my answer is 'probably'. Why are the answers to these two questions different? Well, for infants, crying is used to communicate almost all negative feelings. In this case, your child is likely to cry because it's their way of protesting change. Any one of us would protest a big change to our sleeping arrangements - for example, if you had to sleep without pillows or with the window closed or something else out of the ordinary for you. One of the greatest benefits of having a sleep coach, is that I can ensure that any and all other factors that could cause discomfort, distraction, confusion or anxiety are taken care of, so that the only thing your child needs to think about figuring out and mastering a completely new way of falling asleep - its not easy, but most children are capable of learning this very quickly with the right guidance! I assure you that I would never ask a parent to leave a child alone in a room to cry until they fall asleep. My approach allows the parent to be present and to offer their child comfort and reassurance while they are learning these new skills.
How long will it take for my baby to start sleeping through the night?
Honestly, this will depend on a number of factors - your child's age, temperament, and sleep history as well as the parents' commitment to the plan. I often have babies over 5 months of age start sleeping through the night in 2 to 5 nights. It could take longer. But, I can assure you that all of my clients see a dramatic improvement within two weeks.
Will my child cry if I do the program?
The short answer is yes. But before you shy away from the idea, consider the fact that infants cry to express many different kinds of displeasure and just because they don't like something doesn't mean it's not worth doing (for them and for you). For instance, a child may not like their car seat, but they must while traveling for their own safety - it's non-negotiable. Most children don't like tummy time, but it is important for growth development so we, as parents, encourage them to do it. Likewise, most children will opt to resist change. When you sleep train with me, we will be making sure that we have taken care of every possible factor that could cause them to be uncomfortable, worried, or unsafe in any way, such the only reason they have to cry is that they are protesting having to work out an entirely new strategy for falling asleep because it's difficult and they would much rather go back to all the ways you've helped them fall asleep in the past. The great news is that when you work with me and you are consistent in implementing the plan I creat for you, we will be setting your child up for success and they will learn this new skills very quickly and as they master them, the crying will become minimal and eventually dissappear. In fact, your child will probably start to look forward to going to their crib to sleep.
Are all of your programs the same? Do they all use the SleepSense Method?
While all of my programs are based on the same core principles and the SleepSense Method, I use a combination of different strategies, depending on the child, the parents, our goals (any special requests from parents), and our starting point. I monitor the child's progress using a sleep log and in our follow-up conversations throughout the program, we will be constantly reassessing our progress and I will provide suggestions for adjustments in order to achieve our goals as quickly and as gently as possible.
Can I breastfeed while implementing this sleep program?
Absolutely! A suitable feeding schedule can and will be defined in your sleep plan (especially for younger babies). You can also continue to feed at night for as long as your baby needs it.
If I don't live in the BC Lower Mainland, can you still help me?
Absolutely! Whether we meet face-to-face or over video-calls, you will get the same level of guidance, support, and success!
How do I decide whether I should hire a sleep coach or sleep train my baby myself?
Excellent question. Sleep coaching is still a relatively new field and few people have any familiarity with the role and benefits of having a sleep coach.
Here is a break-down of the factors that will best inform your decision:
- How unique if your child's situation? If your child has any relevant medical history or diagnosed condition, I highly recommend working with a sleep coach that has been fully informed of your pediatricians recommendations and has communicated their knowledge and comfort level with this.
- How concerned are you about sleep training causing undue stress and strain on your relationship? If you want to ensure that this process is as gentle on your child as possible, then I highly recommend working with a sleep coach because they ensure that you are able to offer comfort in the best way and at a level that it will not interfere with the learning process for your child (which will drag out the number of nights of crying or potentially even stop any and all progress in its tracks).
- If you have any unique sleep goals? If you want to try to get your child on an 8 am to 8 pm schedule, if you or other children room-share with an older baby or toddler, etc, a sleep coach can give you pointers to make the best of any situation (or tell you what the consequence will be so you can make a choice).
- What is your tolerance of failure? Or having to repeat sleep training?
- What age are you hoping to start teaching your child to fall asleep independently? If it's earlier than 6-months, I would only advise attempting this with the help of a "cookie-cutter" sleep program or a sleep coach.