3 Things You Should Know About Sleep Training & Your Baby’s Health

3 Things You Should Know About Sleep Training & Your Baby’s Health

 

Tips for Maximizing Sleep Training & Health

Sleep training is a hot topic in the parenting world and comes with many strong opinions. Along with these opinions comes a lot of misinformation that can confuse and frighten many parents who are trying to do what is best for their baby. 

Whatever your thoughts are on the subject, here are 3 facts you should know about sleep training and how it relates to baby’s health and well being:

1. “Cry It Out” is not the only method

In fact, “Cry It Out” is not a method that I would ever suggest to a client. For every sleep difficulty, there are countless ways to solve that are gentle, responsive, and healthy for your baby. At Peaceful Peanut Infant Sleep Consulting, we believe in sleep teaching rather than sleep training. 

What is the difference? Sleep is a skill-- A skill that needs to be learned and taught just like any other skill. Never would you say, "We start rolling over training today!" Instead, we do a little bit of tummy time every day and encourage our children to practice these skills gradually until they get it. The same goes for sleeping. There is no need to put a hard start date on "formal sleep training". Instead, we can set up healthy habits that we practice each day until our children develop the skill when they are ready. 

Sleep teaching focuses on teaching your baby self-regulation skills that help them sleep better, but also are vital skills for later in life. These skills such as self assurance, coping strategies, and emotional control will help them as they navigate through childhood and into adulthood. I do not believe there is a need for “formal sleep training” in the traditional sense. Instead, I take a holistic approach, looking first at the many aspects that affect baby sleep. After making tweaks to these foundations, we then work together using gentle sleep teaching methods to resolve the issues that are left. 

2. Sleep training can be healthier for your baby than short naps and night wake ups

Perhaps one of the most controversial parts of sleep training is the idea that it may be damaging to your baby and cause unnecessary stress. However, the reality of the situation may be the opposite of what you thought.

Numerous studies have been conducted to test the effects of sleep training on a child’s body. An Australian study found that babies who had been sleep trained using a method similar to Ferber had less stress in their body than babies who had no sleep training. This study came with its own flurry of skeptics, though its findings are consistent with many other findings. Kas Roussy of CBC reports, “A similar 2012 study of 326 children with sleep problems at seven months found no evidence that techniques based on allowing babies to cry themselves to sleep had any long-term negative impact on either sleep or behavior five years later.” 

Cleveland Clinic states in a 2021 article, “There has been ample long-term research studying sleep training, and there is no evidence that sleep training is physically or psychologically damaging to babies and children. In fact, it’s been known to improve parental mood, improves an infant’s sleep quality and increases the secure attachment between babies and their caregivers. As long as your baby is old enough and is in a safe environment, sleep training (no matter which method you choose) is perfectly safe and healthy.”

Night wakings, short naps, and early rising may have negative effects on a child’s health. The difference in stress caused by sleep training and stress caused by sleep deprivation is that sleep training is short term– only present for a week or two while parents are teaching their children. However, sleep deprivation effects may be long term and can continue to follow children into adolescence and even adulthood. A 2017 Harvard study found that children who did not receive enough sleep exhibited reduced neurobehavioral function by the time they were 7 years old. Elsie Taveras, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School and the chief of general pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital notes, “Levels during infancy often predict levels at later ages, supporting the importance of promoting a good quantity and quality of sleep from the youngest ages.” Children’s Hospital Colorado explains that insufficient sleep may cause decreased brain development, learning problems, more frequent negative emotions, weight management problems, growth issues and more frequent illnesses. 

3. You can still be a responsive parents and support your baby’s and your own sleep

The first step of sleep teaching is setting up healthy, sleep conducive foundations for your baby. Often, just by making these small tweaks many problems may be solved. Anticipating your baby’s needs and setting them up for success from the start…it doesn't get more responsive than that! Additionally, through the sleep teaching process, you are listening to and learning from your baby every step of the way. You are listening to their sounds to find out what they need. You are watching the monitor to ensure their safety and to see them practice self-regulation skills. You are making decisions based on your intuition and your knowledge of your baby. Every step of the way, you are responsive to your child’s needs. And remember mama, when you’re well rested, you can be a much more active and engaged parent for your little one. And your baby will be happier too!

Please visit peacefulpeanutsleep.com for more information about how to gently teach your child to sleep and to get support in your journey. Because your family deserves sleep! 

Certified sleep consultant and owner of Peaceful Peanut Infant and Toddler Sleep Consulting, Kelsey Flores is committed to helping families get the restful sleep they need to enjoy parenthood to the fullest. She works with families to prevent, identify, and correct the root cause for sleep disturbances and support you in teaching your little one to sleep using gentle, responsive, and effective methods. Because your family deserves sleep!

Written By: Kelsey Flores

Owner of Peaceful Peanut Infant and Toddler Sleep Consulting

peacefulpeanutsleep.com

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Dreamland Baby.

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