5 Things To Do BEFORE You Start Sleep Coaching
by Nicole Johnson, President and Lead Consultant at The Baby Sleep Site®
Does this sound like you?
You know your baby is waking more frequently than is necessary, but you just don’t know how to make the night waking stop. However, you also know that if something doesn’t change soon, “death by sleep deprivation” is going to become a real possibility!
The solution I always present to parents in this situation is sleep training. My team and I have written a ton this subject — from free guides to blog articles — and I’ve created a consultation system and a Members Area to help clients through the sleep training process. So I’m not going to go into the ins-and-outs of how to sleep train in this article.
Instead, I’m sharing 5 must-do tasks you should complete BEFORE you start sleep training. I believe strongly that having a plan can take you far on the road to success, and these 5 steps are a great way to start planning!
5 Things To Do Before You Sleep Train
- Catch up on sleep (this means everyone!)
When you start sleep training, expect for everyone to lose some sleep before things start to improve. Remember, your baby is learning a new skill here — sleep probably won’t come easily right from the beginning! For this reason, it’s critical that mom, dad, and baby be well-rested before starting this process.
- Develop sleep routines (both bedtime and nap time)
Consistency is one of the most important parts of any sleep training plan — the faster your baby learns that the same things will keep happening at the same times, the faster he’ll learn how to sleep more independently and start sleeping through the night. And routines go a long way towards building consistency. Start developing small, simple patterns before naps and bed — this could include reading a few books, rocking and singing a song, having a bath, etc. Start on these bedtime routines and nap time routines before you begin sleep training; that way, your baby will already be familiar with them before you actually start the sleep training process.
- Make a trip to see a doctor or healthcare provider
You should rule out any underlying medical issues that might be causing your baby’s sleeplessness. Sleeplessness can be caused by simple things, like illness or teething; however, it can also be caused by more serious medical conditions, like food allergies, reflux or sleep apnea. If you have any concern that your baby’s lack of sleep might be related to a medical issue, see a healthcare provider. Once you’ve ruled out a medical issue, you can continue with sleep training.
- Make a plan
Just as you may have made a birth plan or a plan to start your baby on solids, you’re definitely going to want to make a plan for how you’re going to actually sleep train. There are a variety of sleep training methods you can try; determine which one seems best for your family and your situation, and then set about implementing it at home. But, take a step further than that and outline exactly what you plan to do every step of the way. We find families are more apt to follow through and be successful.
We usually recommend that parents try a sleep training method for at least a week before deciding whether it’s successful or not (again — consistency!) However, if you put in a solid 7 days trying one method, and it’s proving to be disastrous, don’t be afraid to try something else. Your plan isn’t carved in stone, after all. Do what works best for your baby and your family.
- Clear your calendar
When you start sleep training, you’ll want things to be as normal as possible around your house for at least a few weeks. This is why we don’t recommend that people start sleep training right before a move, or before a vacation. Sleep training shouldn’t happen right before the birth of a new baby, or before a major surgery. All those things cause disruptions to the normal flow of life in your home, and those disruptions are going to disrupt any sleep training you’re trying to do, too. What’s more, if you’re an “on the go” parent, you may need to cancel some of your plans. You’ll probably need to spend your days and nights at home for a few weeks — no all-day errands, no late-night excursions. You want baby to have plenty of time to practice sleeping in bed, crib or bassinet, and plenty of opportunities to adjust to the new schedule and routine.
No matter how you decide you’re going to prepare for sleep coaching, my team at The Baby Sleep Site is here for you, ready to help you on your journey to better sleep! A great place to start when getting ready for sleep coaching is my free guide, 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night. It’s 100% free and is available immediately, which means you can put it to work as early as your child’s next bedtime!