Sleep training for babies: Is it too early to start
Right after birth, your new baby is immediately dependent on you for all his needs, including the need to rest when he is tired. Very often, mothers of very young children look forward to the day when their babies are developmentally advanced enough to soothe themselves to sleep, because how well-rested your baby is, affects his wellbeing and that of your family’s as well.
As sleep is so important, sleep training is getting very popular these days.
Would you consider sleep training your baby?
What is sleep training?
Sleep training is the process of helping your child learn to fall asleep independently in the first instance and to soothe himself back to sleep during the arousal portion of his sleep cycle.
Generally, sleep training experts recommend sleep training anytime from 3 months old to 6 months old. Sleep training newborns are generally not encouraged as they have tiny stomachs and it is natural for them to wake frequently to feed.
To sleep train or not to sleep train?
There are two camps to the idea of sleep training.
Generally, parents who are against sleep training believe in allowing nature to take its course. In contrast, parents who are for sleep training believe in equipping their babies with the ability to thrive through ample rest by their intervention.
If you’re in the process of making that decision for your family, you may want to understand the various reasons for and against sleep training.
Reasons against sleep training
- My baby is smart! He has the ability to develop naturally and learn how to soothe himself to sleep when he is developmentally ready. I feel like what works best for my family is following my baby’s lead. (Read: Tips and tricks on Getting Babies to Sleep.)
- My baby has the need to be comforted at bedtime. At this stage in his life, I want to choose to provide it to him. Sleep training feels like I’m trying to compromise my baby’s needs for the sake of my modern lifestyle.
- I’m not a fan of some sleep training methods, like the Cry It Out method. I don’t want my baby to give up hope that I will respond to his needs.
Reasons for sleep training
- I want to stop feeling helpless when my baby is frustrated at being over tired.
- With intervention, my baby can learn when and how to sleep independently. This enables critical brain developments that are dependent on adequate rest.
- Sleep training can improve the sleep for all members of the household. It is the best decision for my family.
- As long as I select sleep-training methods that are suitable for the personalities and circumstances of my family, I believe that my baby will not be emotionally affected by sleep training.
Some parents feel that it is too early to start sleep training their babies, and wait till their kids are one-year-old, or toddlers.
Pros and Cons of Sleep Training
Whichever camp you are on, here are the pros and cons of sleep training to help you further with your considerations:
Successful sleep-training can end the days of sleep deprivation for good.
Advantages of sleep training your child
- If successful, sleep training allows everyone in the family to get sufficient rest on a daily basis. This supports the family’s wellbeing.
- Your baby gets to benefit from developmental growth that is dependent on adequate sleep.
- Parents are less likely to experience stress in the marriage that comes with having to cope with a cranky baby and flared tempers from sleep deprivation.
Disadvantages of sleep training your child
- The process of sleep training may cause some levels of stress to your baby.
- Skeptics of sleep training believe that some sleep training methods, like the Cry It Out method, could have long-lasting negative effects on emotional development.
Whether parents decide to sleep train their child ultimately lies in the parents’ beliefs and your family’s needs. There are gentle sleep training methods too, so you may wish to consult a sleep training expert that you are comfortable with.
Have you embarked on sleep training for your child? Do share your thoughts in the comments below!