Why Sleep Training is NOT Synonymous with Cry It Out
How to get your baby to sleep better without using a settling technique
Hearing your baby cry is really hard – and I don’t think I’ve met a single mum who’s ever really felt perfectly fine hearing it.
We’re programmed to have a stress response to our baby’s cry, so that we can protect them if they’re in danger.
There’s lots of scaremongering out there on the internet around crying and the way it affects the brain – however studies show that cry based settling techniques are actually really safe to use(1) and as much as we’d like to avoid it, sometimes our babies will cry, for any number of reasons –
- wet through,
- and importantly, when TIRED.
However, it’s really important that we differentiate between what sleep training is and what a cry based settling technique is – because they’re two different things.
Sleep training certainly never just means putting your baby into a cot and leaving them to cry – in fact if you’ve done anything in an attempt to improve sleep, including giving your baby a cuddly or a dummy, looking to help them soothe with patting, or making their room dark, you’ve done some form of sleep training!
I know right?!
You little baby trainer you......
When we work with you, you’ll find that our approach to sleep training is really holistic!
We’re not only looking at the way baby goes to sleep at the moment, we’re considering
- their personality,
- their sleep environment,
- sleep associations,
- their feeds and
- their natural nap windows and
- sleep biorhythms,
- and importantly – your parenting style.
There is absolutely no one right way to raise a baby or child and we pride ourselves on accepting our parents as they are and tailoring a solution that works for them!
The reason we want to look at all these other aspects to do with your baby’s day is because really, we hate hearing crying too!
Most of us are mums, and we know the stress that you can feel hearing your baby cry.
By taking a completely holistic approach to baby and child sleep we can help avoid unnecessary tears and ensure that any tears quickly decrease so that the process is a lot faster, and importantly, easier, for you and your baby.
Things you can do to improve your baby’s sleep without even thinking about a settling technique:
Unfortunately, even with the gentlest of approaches, when you’re adjusting a sleep association sometimes babies will cry.
This isn’t because they feel unloved or abandoned.....
It’s because they’re tired and they’re not yet sure how to go to settle to sleep without their usual method yet!
You can be right alongside them supporting them through this, but if you’re not ready to do so, here are some tips to help naturally set you up for better sleep without that.
Take a look around your baby’s room – is it dark enough? Are there distractions like mobiles above the cot that could be moved somewhere else, like the change table?
Do you have some white noise playing for the entire duration of their nap or overnight sleep?
Is the temperature between 18-20 degrees?
Often this is the difference between good naps, or not so good, and a baby being overtired or not!
As a rough guide, aim for about 2 hours awake at 4 months, 2hr15mins at 5months, 2.5hours at 6 months, and 2.5-4 hours after 7-8 months when they’ve dropped that last nap. (get our detailed nap routines and sleep programs here)
Often if a baby’s awake time is too short, their naps will be short because not enough sleep debt has built; and if their awake time is much too long, they’ll be overtired and nap poorly as a result too.
Both of these things lead to evening waking – so if you’re seeing waking in the first 3 hours after bed for the night, your naps might need addressing.
Of course, we want to ensure baby is growing well to be confident in their ability to sleep for decent stretches.
After 6 months of age, natural iron and protein stores get depleted, and often ensuring some meat protein is given at lunch and encouraging consumption of good low GI carbs really helps assist with sleep naturally.
If your baby is growing well but is under 6 months, a couple of night feeds might still be necessary.
Generally, after we introduce solids we can start to drop back on those night feeds. Another thing to consider is if your baby is feeding lots overnight – this can impact on their daytime feeding – we call this reverse cycling.
To get out of this cycle, try to settle your baby in other ways for extending periods of time overnight so those feeds get stretched further apart.
Often, looking at the above things will help you to get improvement in your baby’s sleep without even having to consider using a settling technique.
Another way to improve your situation is to look at the way your baby falls asleep now and see if you can slowly back away from that approach – for example, if you’re feeding to sleep, can you start feeding them until just calm and then soothing them to sleep in your arms?
This can be a slow process but it’s a really good one to take if you’re feeling like you’re not ready to make big changes right now.
You can simply spend more time soothing them in your arms before offering the breast to calm them, and then when you’re ready, work on solely soothing them in your arms before transferring to the cot.
If you’d like some guidance or support in implementing all of these changes, get in touch with us any time!
We can’t guarantee there’ll be no tears, but we do guarantee that we’ll support you and your baby to ensure these diminish really quickly, and you’ll see improvement in sleep within two weeks with any of our one on one packages, or your money back!