Why Sleep Training Didn’t Work

Why Sleep Training Didn't Work

After weeks, nay MONTHS of struggle, you have finally mastered the challenge of putting baby down awake. Victory is yours! The gates of Valhalla are now open to you as you join your fellow Sleep Warriors! You have successfully gotten your baby to fall asleep without you! The battle cry of the Valkyrie pours forth from your lips! You pour a drink and begin the dance of victory!

VICTORY!!!!

But what’s this? Your baby is still waking up a lot. Maybe not like she was before, but it’s certainly not the fantastic transformative sleep experience that the “Sleep Training” brochures promised you. Maybe you’ve gone from nursing baby every hour to only nursing 4 times a night. But at 10 months you were hoping for better. Because it’s been 10 months since you slept for more than 3 consecutive hours and you’re starting to hallucinate and your partner, who had a lush head of hair a year ago, is now entirely bald. Is this the success you worked so hard to achieve? You did what you were supposed to do, so why are you still struggling with sleep?

Things are better but not great. And like a Baskins-Robins from hell “not great” comes in many different flavors but typically it looks something like this:

  • Bedtime is a relatively smooth affair where baby is falling asleep on their own.
  • There is a longer stretch of sleep in the beginning of the night but things get progressively worse as the night goes on.
  • There may be brief periods (10-20 minutes) of crying here and there.
  • While you may try to coax baby back to sleep with various techniques, generally there is only one thing that will work reliably.
  • It takes increasingly more involved intervention to get baby to fall back to sleep until you simply can’t, which often results in a “awake too early” issue.

Here’s a chart that depicts a common night sleep pattern. And while I’ve used “feeding” as the root issue in the example here, it’s certainly not the only issue that can trip you up.
sleep patterns before and after teaching baby to fall asleep

So what happened?

I have the answer. And I will tell you. For one MILLION dollars, MMWWWWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Or you could like my Facebook page. Although I would vastly prefer the million dollars.

In a nutshell, you managed to teach your baby to fall asleep but you still have a niggling sleep association that is tripping you up. There are a number of sleep associations that can result in this pattern but here are the most common ones:

  • You’re [insert: rocking, cuddling, nursing, feeding, etc.] baby until they’re MOSTLY asleep. People often ask me, “how awake is awake enough?” The answer is, if you’re still seeing the pattern in the chart above, it’s not awake enough.
  • You’re nursing/feeding AT bedtime. If the last step in your bedtime routine is a nice nursing session or a bottle you’re inadvertently reinforcing the eat=sleep association. Don’t feel bad, MANY smart & talented people get tripped up by this. Switch up your routine so that there is a ~20 minute gap between the last bottle/nursing session and bedtime.
  • You put baby down awake in their crib with a pacifier. I hate to be a buzzkill but if your baby is falling asleep with a pacifier they haven’t entirely learned how to fall asleep yet. Even if the pacifier falls out before they actually fall asleep it can result in the pattern of night waking outlined above.
  • You’re hanging around until baby falls alseep. Some folks have figured out that they can get their baby to fall asleep sans tears by standing quietly and putting a hand on baby’s belly, or singing softly from a nearby chair, or even hiding behind the chair so they can spy on baby while they fall asleep (I guess this is a nice alternative to $$$ night vision baby monitors?). Regardless your child has now developed a “you’re there”= sleep association and now is waking up throughout the night and is unable to fall back to sleep because you’re no longer there.
  • Sometimes a timed device (mobile, music, sleepy sheep, stars projected on the ceiling) that is on at bedtime and then auto-shuts off can cause problems. As a general rule, if it works on a timer you don’t want it. Unless it’s a coffee maker that automatically makes a fresh pot at 6:00 AM because those are awesome.

Hopefully the solution to this dilemma is pretty clear but as most of you are running on a scant 3 hours of sleep I’ll spell it out using small words and hand gestures.

You need to change what is happening AT bedtime. Because the activities (nursing, feeding, lurking, pacifier, etc.) AT bedtime are what is creating the waking, crying, feeding, nursing, early morning wake up issues. You should totally be proud of all the work you’ve done to help teach your baby to fall asleep. Your victory dance was well deserved! And you’re REALLY close, but there’s one more small thing you need to change up. Don’t be scared to change up bedtime. You’ve done the hard part, this last step is almost always far smoother and drama-free than people imagine it will be. And the results are often pretty dramatic and instantaneous.

Change what is happening at bedtime for 5 days. Then come back and tell me what happened. Unless it doesn’t work and you want to tell me I’m an idiot. Feel free to keep that to yourself.

Anybody else have any thoughts or experiences with sleep associations and putting baby down awake they care to share?

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I Dare You Not to Smile

I Dare You Not to Smile

Do you need something to make you smile today? Of COURSE you do. Well here you go. You’re welcome.

I’m working on giving my site a face-lift and I asked readers on Facebook if they might have any photos that were gorgeous and/or funny. I figured I would get 2. Maybe 3. Instead I got over 60 and they are FABULOUS. They had me smiling all day long.

So I’m sharing these smiles with you too. Seriously, aren’t they the best thing ever? Bookmark this page for when you’re “in a mood.” Because it’s impossible to look at these and stay grumpy. They’re just so great.

Thank you everybody for your generosity and willingness to share. It has totally filled my bucket. And a big shoutout to all of the generous professional photographers who were kind enough to share their work with me.

Seriously guys, you’re all the best.

Austin Photo Studio
Kristy Dooley Photography
Lindsay Muciy Photography
Lala Loveyou Studio
Shelby Resler Photography
Chassing Giggles
Sarah Costa Photography
Loving Lotus Photography
Photography by SSV
Erin Tole Photography
Dave Brosha
Brian Kilgore Photography
Beauhinze

Sleep Books by Sleep Training Method

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So you’re dirt tired, you can hardly see straight and you haven’t had time to brush your teeth for…who knows how long. You’re afraid if the neighbor sees you she’s going to think zombies have invaded your house, BUT you decide to go ahead and read that huge sleep book sitting on your shelf because you CANNOT go on living like this. But guess what. That book you just spent every last free second reading turns out to be exactly what you weren’t looking for! Not only was it a waste of money, but it was a huge waste of time (especially because many authors take hundreds of pages to get to their point!). I mean, you can hardly find time to make it to the bathroom, you don’t have several extra hours to read a book that turns out to be about CIO when you aren’t interested in CIO–or vice versa. 


Time and energy is not something you have much of right now. So I hope the below list will be a super duper quick version of the top sleep training methods for you. I’ll link to the book review if I’ve done one, and I’ll eventually get to adding all the reviews. My guess is that you can get most of these from the library, but I’ve also listed where you can buy them too (I found them all on amazon, which is where I generally find the best prices).


Keep in mind that although I’m listing these books under a sleep training approach, this is just the method suggested IF your child continues to have sleep issues after following their other recommendations (which often include suggestion like the ones on my setting the stage for good sleep post). 


Some additional posts that may be helpful while choosing a sleep training method:



Gentle and No-Cry

  • Baby Sleep Book (Sears). Sears is an advocate of attachment parenting and co-sleeping. They believe in gentle approaches to sleep training and they encourage more parent involvement with sleep (“night parenting”), particularly with babies. You can buy the Baby Sleep Book here
  • Helping Baby Sleep (Gethin, Macgregor). This book focuses on helping your child sleep while following the attachment parenting approach. It is very much against CIO alternatives. You can buy it here.
  • No Cry Sleep Solution (Pantley). Pantley also believes in attachment parenting and co-sleeping, although she understands that all parents may not want to co-sleep for various reasons. She offers lots of very gentle solutions to help your child sleep better, even if you are co-sleeping. You can read my review of The No Cry Sleep Solution here and buy it here.



Intermediate or Middle Ground (may be crying, but you are in baby’s presence)

  • Baby Whisperer (Hogg). The Baby Whisperer is all about teaching your child to sleep well from the get go. She starts with a routine from early on and gives suggestions to help with sleep (along with lots of problem solving) for varying ages. You can read my review of The Baby Whisperer here, see lots of her methods here, and buy the book here.
  • Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight (West). West believes that sleep training often isn’t easy and that crying can’t always be prevent, but that you can coach your child through the process with your presence and encouragement  She offers sleep tips for different ages and suggests starting her “sleep shuffle” around 6 months of age. You can buy her book here.
  • Touchpoints (Brazelton). Touchpoints offers different sleep tips for each age and developmental stage of baby’s life (as well as many other tips). He teaches you about sleep patterns and the effect your response has on them. He offers tips on sleep training that focus around not rushing in, comforting your child while he tries to self-soothe, and CIO with checks. You can buy his book here.



Cry It Out

  • CIO with checks and comforting until baby is calm
    • Baby Sleep Solution aka 12 hours by 12 weeks (Giordano). Generally with this method, you will be checking in on baby every 3-5 minutes and staying with her until she is calm. You will continue your checks at this interval until she falls asleep or stops crying. Her sleep training methods start around 6-8 weeks (although you can start anytime up to 18 months). You can read my review of The Baby Sleep Solution here and buy it here.
  • CIO with checks
    • Babywise (Ezzo). Babywise isn’t extremely specific about how to do sleep training. You can read my post about sleep training according to babywise for more. The emphasis of this book is more on feeds and routines. You can read my review of Babywise here and buy it here.
    • Complete Sleep Guide for Contented Babies and Toddlers (Gina Ford). Gina ford suggests different amounts of crying depending on your baby’s age. She is a hard core scheduler which is a little too much for some people, but a relief for some people that just want to be told exactly what to do. She tells you exactly what to do for whatever sleep issue you are having. You can read my review of The Complete Sleep Guide here and buy it here.
    • Sleepeasy Solution (Waldburger, Spivak). This method can be started around 4 months of age and is what the authors call a “least cry” method. They believe their method helps teach a baby to sleep the quickest possible with the least amount of crying. Results are often dramatic in just a few days. You can buy it here.
    • Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight (West). Generally, West encourages you to be in your child’s presence during sleep training (see above). But once your child is falling asleep well or if your child is more stimulated by your presence, she suggests possibly doing checks with your child.
    • Sleeping Through The Night (Mindell). Mindell has a method somewhat smilar to Ferber, although she doesn’t give you a specific interval to do the checks at. Her methods can be started after a few months of age. She also has many suggestions for newborns to encourage good sleep patterns. She is an easy read and gives you a good understanding of how sleep works. You can read my review of Sleeping Through the Night here and buy it here.
    • Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems (Ferber). Ferber suggests letting your child cry at increasingly long intervals, which he specifies. He offers lots of information on sleep basics as well as ways to encourage your child to sleep outside of letting him CIO. You can read my review of Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems here and buy the book here.
    • Touchpoints (Brazelton). Touchpoints offers different sleep tips for each age and developmental stage of baby’s life (as well as many other tips). He teaches you about sleep patterns and the effect your response has on them. He offers tips on sleep training that focus around not rushing in, comforting your child while he tries to self-soothe, and CIO with checks. You can buy his book here.
  • Extinction CIO (no checks)
    • Babywise (Ezzo). Babywise isn’t extremely specific about how to do sleep training. You can read my post about sleep training according to babywise for more. The emphasis of this book is more on feeds and routines. You can read my review of Babywise here and buy it here.
    • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (Weissbluth). If you want a good understanding of sleep, you’ll find it in this book. You’ll also get lots of suggestions on how to help your child sleep better without crying. If needed, extinction cio is suggested. You can read my review on Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child here and buy it here.
    • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins (Weissbluth). Same as above, but for twins. It is different enough from the original that if you have twins and have read his original book, you may want to pick this up (Don’t worry, it’s much shorter than the original!). You can buy it here.




Other books I’ve reviewed that include a little bit about sleep but it isn’t the main topic:
  • Wonder Weeks (Vanderijt and Plooij) – No Cry. Sleep is full of lots of ups and downs–and many of them you can predict, almost to the day! You can read my review of The Wonder Weeks here and buy it here.
  • Bedtiming (Lewis and Granic) – Not for any particular approach. Find out when the best time is to sleep train your child and why. You can read my review of Bedtiming here and buy it here.
  • Happiest Baby on the Block (Karp) – No Cry. For the fussy infant, The Happiest Baby on the Block can be a lifesaver (for her and her parents!). You can read my review here and buy it here.

8 Strategies to Improve Infant Sleep Naturally

infant sleepBabies are naturally terrible sleepers. As parents we often feel it is best to do what nature intended, but when it comes to sleep this can be challenging. It’s completely normal for babies to wake during the night when they need to be fed, comforted, or calmed. If you have an infant, night wakings are something that you need to accept, however some babies do wake up more than others, and some take longer to get back to sleep.

There are several gentle and natural strategies that can nurture good sleep habits in your baby. Using these simple strategies may improve the length and quality of your baby’s sleep, as well as reduce the amount of time it takes to settle your baby, resulting in better sleep for both you and your baby.

Keep Your Baby Close

Having your baby sleep in close proximity to you has several advantages. Not only will it give you peace of mind, keeping your baby close increases emotional bonds and reduces stress levels in both you and your baby.
Keeping your baby close while he sleeps enables you to respond quickly, which means that your baby can be calmed before he gets too upset, making it easier to calm him down. If your baby is stirring, a comforting touch may be all the reassurance he needs.
Research has shown that babies who sleep near their parents have improved sleep. Babies who slept in close proximity to mom were shown to cry less and sleep more. When those babies kept close to mom wake up, they may fall asleep faster and as a bonus, you can get more rest as it is easier to meet your baby’s needs without having to get out of bed. Keeping your baby close also provides peace of mind that your baby is well.

Responding to and comforting your baby will give him a solid foundation for good sleep habits later on. When your child is secure in his relationship with you, it also helps him to be more independent when he is older. Nursing, feeding, or comforting your infant to sleep (or back to sleep) is both normal and natural. So during these early months, there is no need to worry about spoiling or creating “bad habits.”

Be Aware of Your Infant’s Light Exposure

Our circadian rhythm (a fancy name for our body clocks) responds primarily to light and dark. Your baby’s circadian rhythm is still developing over these first few months, and exposure to natural light will help get things sorted out. To do this, make sure your curtains are open as you move about your regular activities during the day. Naps don’t always need to be in your baby’s crib. A bassinette in the living room will help him sense the daytime rhythm of your house, although as your baby gets older and has a good day and night rhythm you’ll find that he will nap best in a dark, quiet place.

Keep your baby’s room dark and quiet at night to help promote sleep. Use dim (or ambient) lighting when tending to your baby’s needs at night. Use only the minimum amount you need to see what you’re doing. A small flash light, night light, or the light from your phone would work great.

Get Outside

Fresh air is highly underrated. Exposure to fresh air during the day will not only improve your baby’s sleep, but it helps clean our lungs and increases oxygen intake. After your baby is a few weeks old, make outdoor walks a priority during your daily routine. Open the windows, relax on the patio, and enjoy the great outdoors. Of course, be mindful of the temperature and remember to dress your baby appropriately.

Most babies love to be held or carried, and there are many options that make this task easier. Babywearning can promote a calm and peacefulness in your baby and you that will often transfer to better nighttime sleep. Skin to skin contact can further increase this effect.
According to researchers Hunzike & Barr, “Carrying infants from 3-4 hours per day reduces the duration of infant crying/fussing behavior generally as much as 43% at six weeks of age.”

Make Daytime Infant Sleep a Priority

Sleep during the day will improve your baby’s night sleep. Many parents with sleep concerns will try to restrict naps in hopes that it will improve night sleep. This usually backfires, since when babies get overtired, it makes it harder to fall asleep and reduces the quality of sleep when your baby does fall asleep. Restricting daytime sleep can result in more sleep disturbances and your baby waking up very early in the morning.

For some, this can become a vicious cycle. For now, help your baby get daytime sleep anyway you can. Stationary sleep (quietly lying still in their crib) is the best option, but motion sleep (swings, carriers, rocking, holding, driving) is definitely better than no sleep.
Studies have shown that your baby is more likely to sleep well at night if he gets plenty of sleep during the day. Most babies can only be awake for a maximum of 1 to 2 hours before becoming overtired; in the early weeks of your baby’s life this wakefulness window will be even shorter. Try to watch for your baby’s sleepy signs and get him down to sleep before he is overtired.

Achieving adequate daytime sleep can be more difficult for some children. If you are having difficulty getting your baby to nap, try holding him, using a carrier, or motion sleep. Naps will get more organized as your baby gets closer to 6 months old. Before this age, you may need to take extra measures to help get your baby to sleep. If you find something that works, use it.

Try Infant Massage

Studies have shown that infant massage can improve sleep at night. Infant massage works best in a calm, warm, quiet room. There are a variety of techniques, so if you’re not sure how to get started, an on-line tutorial or instruction book can give you some ideas of where to begin. Make sure you calm yourself first, and pay attention to how your baby is responding to the massage. It may take a little patience and practice before it becomes a relaxing time to bond and wind down from the day.

Breastfeed in the Evening

Babies will often cluster feed in the evening, seemingly wanting to eat nonstop for a few hours. This is completely normal infant behaviour. Allow your baby to nurse for as long and as often as he wants. He may be hungry, or he may also just need this time to settle and have one-on-one time with you. Evening breast milk contains melatonin (a natural hormone your body produces to help you fall asleep), which can be passed to your baby and help him fall asleep. Not surprisingly, cluster feeding is often followed by a longer stretch of sleep.

Find the Ideal Temperature to Promote Infant Sleep

Interestingly, a lower body temperature promotes sleep, so cooler temperatures in the evening and through the night may aid in a good night’s sleep for both you and your baby. The current recommendation is to keep your baby’s room on the cooler side, about 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and avoid over-dressing your baby. As an adult, you may have noticed that it’s easier to sleep in a cool room with a blanket than a warm room without one. Not surprisingly, it’s the same for your baby.

These gentle strategies are natural ways to help improve sleep for your baby during these early months, however they can also improve sleep for older children as well as for you. Sleep research has come a long way in the last 10 years and it’s refreshing that many of the things that parents find intuitive to do, have also been proven to be healthy and beneficial for their children.

Andrea StrangAndrea Strang is an exceptional addition to the team. She’s been working with babies for over 13 years, and has compiled a nearly unmatched record of over 10,000 hours of hands-on experience working with babies right in the home. On top of that, Andrea’s a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach and a Birth and Postpartum Doula.

Was this article helpful to you? Please tell us by commenting below! For more baby, toddler, and family sleep tips and tricks, please subscribe to The Sleep Lady’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube channel! If you are looking for more sleep content, please check out Get Sleep Now-an exclusive members-only area designed to provide in-depth help and support during your sleep coaching experience.

photo credit: dontcallmeikke via photopin cc

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FUZZIBUNZ & ROCKinGREEN RECEIVE BABY PLANNER SEAL OF APPROVAL!

Are you thinking about clothing diapering your child? If you haven’t then you should! I, like many of you, rejected the idea of cloth diapering because I was under the impression that I just didn’t have time for it. Well, this experiance has changed my mind! Recently, I was introduced to the FuzziBunz One Size Pocket Diaper and the Rockin Green laundry detergent…the perfect combination. Though they are two products from different companies the combination makes for the perfect cloth diapering experience.

Want to find out more? Well, check out my video reviews!

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To find out more about FuzziBunz, please visit their website, www.fuzzibunz.com.

To find out more about RockinGreen, please visit their website, www.rockingreensoap.com

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Baby Barbells Receives the Baby Planner Seal of Approval

Baby Barbells

Finally, a book written by a dad to truly help other dads become better dads and husbands! Thanks to Joshua Levitt, a naturopathic physician in Connecticut and father of three, dads everywhere will learn: how to get back in shape after baby’s arrival; become involved fathers; and “Man Up” (love that phrase!). Joshua authored Baby Barbells, The Dad’s Guide to Fitness and Fathering, an incredibly fun filled guide that talks dads through creative, all over, body exercises they can perform with their babies. The wonderful illustrations make you want to read this Guide from cover to cover and try out every exercise he suggests. I especially like the Sit Ups Not Spit Ups exercise!

I love how he also includes tips to become a better father through “Embrace the Pace”, and how to be a better husband through “Channel Your Inner Janitor.”  Additionally, he incorporates educational tidbits about the importance of bonding with your child, as well as baby wearing, schedules, baby gear and nutrition.

My husband and brother-in-law thought it was a great “man’s” baby book. Both were quite impressed by the creativity of the exercises. They also appreciated the helpful how to be a better daddy/husband tips Joshua includes.  Great tips to score points with mama!

I have to tell you, I was pretty jealous that it was written for dads and not for moms.  But, honestly, this book can be a great gift for a mom or a dad. Help spread the word so that we can get this book on everyone’s registry list! This book can be purchased at all of your favorite book stores and on the Baby Barbells website, www.babybarbells.com, for approximately $10.

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Blissful Baby Sleep Coaching | Blog

Those early sleepy, dark nights of winter are already turning into the dusky purple of a fast-approaching Spring. This is the perfect time to get your “ducks” in a row to prepare for Daylight Saving Time. Not everyone in the world observes Daylight Saving Time, so these Daylight Saving tips may not be applicable to some.

Daylight Saving Time Starts this weekend. At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10th, we will turn our clocks ahead one hour. If you are in Europe, Daylight Saving Time will begin on March 31st.

The time change can wreak havoc at bedtimes as children adjust to the new mood lighting caused by the loss of an hour (imagine being used to a 7pm bedtime and now it’s been moved to what your body feels is 6pm!). This change often will make your next few days feel a bit “off”, because our natural rhythms are being challenged. Don’t be surprised if you find that your days feel a bit disjointed until you adjust to the time change, I know I always have a few “off” days. To make the transition easier, I’ve detailed out a few simple things that you can do to help your baby or toddler make the change gently.

Guess what? March 10th (the very day we turn our clocks back) is my birthday! How serendipitous that my birthday coincides with a time change, and a need for some Sleep Lady tips!

Daylight Savings Sleep Tips

1. Ensure that your child is getting adequate naps in these few days before the time change so that they aren’t overtired.

2. Be prepared for your baby’s bedtime to feel earlier, since it actually is earlier. Remember, we’re jumping ahead a full hour, so what used to be 6:00 p.m. is now 7:00 p.m. (but it will still feel like 6:00 p.m. to your baby).

3. Take your baby outside first thing in the morning, or if it’s too cold, open the windows and let in some natural light. This will help your baby’s internal clock adjust to the time change. Try to get at least thirty minutes of sunlight first thing in the morning for that initial week to help your body tune into the time change.

With those suggestions in mind, you’ll need to decide how to help your baby transition to Daylight Savings Time. I recommend that you choose between two transition methods.

Transition Method 1: Pretend that Nothing Has Changed.

That’s right. Just act like it’s a normal day. In fact, if you have an early riser, the time change may resolve the issue for you. This first method is probably the easiest for most families, as you will follow your daily routine according to the clock, but everything will be pushed ahead one hour.

If you choose this method, simply move your clock ahead an hour after your little one is in bed on Saturday, and proceed with your normal day Sunday. Remember that doing this will cause your child to lose an hour, which has the potential to create a struggle at bedtime, which will in fact be a full hour earlier than it was last night.

Because your baby or toddler is not aware that the time has changed, they will wake up at their normal time (hopefully), but instead of 6:00 a.m., it will be 7:00 a.m. (see what I mean about solving that pesky early rising issue?). Proceed with your normal day, and be sure that your meals and naps, and bedtime are at the appropriate time (you may have to watch the clock).

Remember that your baby will be going to bed at their “regular time”. For example, if your baby is used to a 7:00 p.m. bedtime, put them to bed at the new 7:00 p.m. (which was previously 6:00 p.m.). It is very possible that meals and naps will fall into place naturally with this method, but be prepared that your child may not actually be tired at bedtime yet. Remember, they don’t understand why they’ve lost an hour, and it’s suddenly still light out at bedtime, so you may have to be a bit flexible, or utilize The Shuffle to help your baby fall asleep.

The good news about this transition method? This method of adjustment seldom takes more than a week!

Transition Method 2: Stick to Your Regularly Scheduled Program…Sort Of.

If you think the one-hour adjustment is too much for your child (maybe they have an earlier bedtime, or they haven’t been napping well), you can split the difference and put her to bed at the NEW 7:30 p.m. for a few days, then shift back to 7:00 p.m.

Here’s how it works: if you’re child’s bedtime is 7:00 p.m. now, and it feels like a huge leap to get to her “new” bedtime, which will feel like 6:00 p.m. to your child, consider making bedtime 7:30 p.m. (which was previously 6:30 p.m.) to bridge the gap, and help to minimize a struggle with bedtime.

This will help to ease your child into his new schedule and minimize the potential of your baby fighting bedtime. If you go this route, try to be as consistent as possible with your baby’s food and sleep schedule, meaning that you will need to shift their naps and meals later by half an hour as well (so if your baby normally naps at 1:00 p.m., then put them down for their nap at 1:30 p.m. after the time change while baby is transitioning).

Keep in mind that the goal is to be back to your baby’s normal bedtime (and routine) in just a few days (some children may take a bit longer, so don’t fret if your child takes a week or so).

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to remember that your baby’s internal clock is used to Standard Time. You may need to revert to The Shuffle for a few days to help ease her into the time change using these methods. “Springing forward” also means that nights are shorter, which may be an issue for some children who are used to dark winter nights. If this becomes a problem, consider investing in some room darkening shades to help your little one go to sleep easily. Remember, every baby is different, and your little one will adjust, but don’t fret if it’s not overnight (some toddlers can take a few weeks to adjust!). Prepare for the transition to take a few days, and watch for those sleep cues that will tell you she’s tired and ready to sleep!

Ease Your Baby Into Daylight Saving Time

1. Decide which Daylight Savings sleep transition method you want to use to help your child adjust.

2. Take your baby’s internal clock into account and watch for sleepy cues.

3. Check to see if light is an issue, and consider purchasing room-darkening shades.

4. Most importantly, be flexible. A time change always makes the days feel a little strange (even to an adult who can understand what’s going on), and your baby can’t quite grasp what’s going on.

5. If needed, use The Shuffle to help encourage sleep and help your baby get the rest he needs.

After all that, Daylight Saving time may be something you can actually

Who Else Wants to Know the Best Time for CIO?

Who Else Wants to Know the Best Time for CIO?

Nobody is driving down the baby sleep road, looking at their finely detailed baby sleep map, saying, “Well, it looks like we’ve missed the turn off into Putdownawake-port so in the next 4-6 weeks we’re going to have to exit into Cryitoutsville.” Instead you wake up one morning feeling nauseous with the realization that sleep has totally gone off the rails, things have gone from bad to horrendous, and the only way out of this dark pit of exhaustion is CIO. The decision THAT CIO is the answer is immediately followed by the question of WHEN it should happen. Because CIO is a scary prospect for most people, they want to find the optimal time for CIO.

I think the mental dialogue goes something like this, “If we can triangulate the best time for CIO we can minimize the crying, get things sorted out prior to starting daycare, and maybe get a night or two of sleep before the MIL shows up and starts critiquing the non-housecleaning.”

Based on the number of people asking me about when to do CIO it’s clear that there is a widely-held belief that:

  • There is indeed an “optimal” time for CIO.
  • That I hold the secret to it.
  • And I can possibly be convinced to relinquish the secret CIO scheduling decoder ring if asked nicely enough and/or with enough capitalization/exclamation points. (Ex. HELP we’re DESPERATE!!!!)

Which is totally understandable. CIO is HARD and SCARY. If you’ve taken my advice then you know that commitment is key. So you don’t want to dive in and then realize, “Woops! We picked the wrong day.” Because once you start, you are committed regardless of which day (right or wrong) it is.

Additionally there are a number of books that talk about wonder weeks and sleep training that suggest there is indeed an optimal time for CIO. Which is where emails like this one come from:

I always knew we needed to make some changes, but I just don’t know where the time went. Month 6, 7, and 8 went by and although not ideal for most, my catnapper, frequent waker still was rocked and nursed to sleep usually quickly and easily. I just began staying in the same room as our son while he napped, and if he woke up I was right there to shoosh or nurse him back to sleep instead of catching up on things, having time to myself, or with my husband. My son took two 1-2.5 hour naps instead of 40 min ones, we were in a rhythm that worked for us, and I was oblivious to the monster that I created.

All was fine and good until I emerged from my little bubble and realized what I had done. I have a child who cannot even begin to self soothe. He is to a T how you would describe a child with a sleep problem on your website. He frequently wakes and has never once in his life fallen asleep unassisted.

I found this book that discusses certain windows that are better to train your child to sleep. I explored this a bit more and discovered that months 9-12 are not only not optimum, but that they are really bad windows to try to train your child to sleep.

Seriously. Does that mean I have to deal with this until his first birthday? What happens if I forgo this advice? Is it really okay for my child to sleep train at almost ten months? What will happen during this cognitive leap if we barrel through? I know failure is not an option, so I don’t want to try and give up. Do I need this book? Or is this me finding one more reason to hold off on doing what my child really needs?

This is my response to her email:

You are going down the rabbit hole of doubt. Don’t do this. It’s dark in there. Probably lots of spiders too.

People love the idea that you can triangulate the “optimum” time to sleep train your baby. But it’s a myth. THERE IS NO OPTIMUM TIME. There is always, ALWAYS a wonder week, growth spurt, separation anxiety, travel, developmental milestone, starting daycare, teething, ear infection, cold, shots, etc.

There IS a kernel of truth in these books in that yes – growth spurts, developmental milestones, separation anxiety, etc. will all happen and that trying to sleep train or night wean while your child is in the throws of a vicious growth spurt and thus eating constantly is not ideal. And yes many of these things happen on somewhat predictable schedules so that in an ideal scenario you would avoid them. But there are two key words here that are easy to overlook, but you shouldn’t because they’re really critical.

Somewhat and ideal.

Babies are somewhat predictable. For example I talk a lot about the 4 month sleep regression/wonder week/growth spurt. Because for most people, it’s a doozie. But truthfully, do you want to know when the 4 month growth spurt will occur? Sometime between 3 and 5 months. Or not at all. The idea of an optimal time for sleep training assumes that these developmental milestones are known quantities. But they aren’t.

And most of the time there is no ideal scenario. Much like the search for the perfect haircut or a winter coat that is both warm and slimming, the search for the ideal time is futile.

Maybe it’s today. Nope! Raging ear infection. How about next week? Uh oh – baby has figured out how to stand up at the crib but can’t sit down and is getting stuck. That’s going to put us back another week or two while we practice sitting. How about now? Ugh…now we’ve got that wedding in the Hamptons. Then your Mom is visiting. Then you’re going back to work and can barely muster the fortitude to face dropping off at daycare much less sleep training.

Sometimes you just need to work with what you’ve got. Waiting just prolongs the anxiety and chronic sleep deprivation. There is no guarantee that waiting till next week or next month is going make things any easier than they would be today.

And sometimes now really feels like it’s not the right time. And who knows, maybe it’s not. But if you give yourself a little mental breathing room, I think you’ll find that most of the reasons you’re using to convince yourself that it’s NOT the best time for sleep training all boil down to one simple fact: you’re not ready.

And that’s OK. But let’s acknowledge what’s really going on. If you’re not ready, don’t do it. Figure out why you’re not ready. Maybe there are other alternatives you want to pursue first? Maybe you need some time to get comfortable with the idea? Maybe you need a little emotional support?

But in general, unless your child is a) seriously ill or b) you’re about to launch on some massive international travel, the ideal time is now.

Bedtiming is a book that tries to help you figure out the ideal window to sleep train based on the rough time frames of various developmental milestones. If you disagree with my assertion that there is no ideal time then I’ve shared their suggestions here, followed by my own 2 cents on the subject.

 Age  Bedtiming says…  I say…
 0-2 1/2 Months  BAD time  Agreed, they’re NEWBORNS. Please don’t try to sleep train your newborn baby.
 2 1/2-4 Months  GOOD time Nope. For a number of reasons: they’re still really young, you still have lots of tools at your disposal, and the dreaded 4 month sleep regression is likely to fall sometime within this window which I would argue is possibly the LEAST ideal time imaginable.
 4-5 1/2 Months  BAD time I would argue that they’re still on the young side. Also babies younger than 6 months generally haven’t developed object permanence which is cause of almost all of your “baby up all night” problems that result in sleep training in the first place. Also, unlike “older babies” you still have some soothing options at your disposal.
 5 1/2-7 1/2 Months  IDEAL time They say ideal, I say it’s the first age at which I would seriously consider sleep training. Most babies don’t generally have a highly developed sense of separation anxiety at this age (note: separation anxiety is not your friend when sleep training). Alternately many babies have a big growth spurt/sleep regression at 6 months which is best to be avoided. But as noted, trying to plan around these things is a fools errand.
 8-11 Months  WORST time  Really? It’s true that separation anxiety peaks at this time. However often separation anxiety causes sleep issues so severe that sleep training is the only practical solution. Also separation anxiety/object permanence are the developmental milestones that lead to the most severe sleep issues. So they’re effectively telling parents that sleep training is not possible at the exact time when it’s generally most needed.
 12-16 Months GOOD time and the last chance for an efficient and satisfactory sleep training experience  That’s right folks, if you don’t manage to get your kid sleeping by 16 months you are doomed DOOMED I tell you.
 17-21 Months  BAD time  At this point I’m starting to feel badly for people. If neither you nor your child has had any real sleep in almost 2 years, I don’t think you need some book telling you that you need to wait another 6 months. I think you need a drink and a warm hug.
22-27 Months GOOD time Yay! It’s been 3 years but the book says we can finally do something about this hot mess!
28 Months-3 Years Last window of opportunity to initiate or repair sleeping habits with ease. Wow. Better get on that because this is the last chance we’ll ever have to establish healthy sleep habits before our child becomes a chronically overtired person forever and turns into Ted Bundy.
3 1/2-4 Years BAD time I guess this means you have to wait until they’re 5. But why stop there? After 5 it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump until they’re in college.

Listen, I don’t mean to be glib. I know this is hard stuff. But if you’ve come to a place where CIO feels like the right answer for your family, then go with that. Don’t wait for ideal. Ideal never comes. There is only today.

And if I haven’t convinced you, maybe the final words from the Mom who sent me the email above will.

“If someone were to ask me what my number one priority in life is at the moment I would say my child’s sleep, If they were to ask what most of my time is spent doing, I would say putting my child to sleep. The reason I bite my husband’s head off with a mere glance of the wrong kind is because I have poured any and all patience, understanding, and love into putting my child to sleep. Sleep…

I have this beautiful, smart, healthy boy and all I can do is think about sleep instead of enjoying this small window of babyhood I have with him.”

Does anybody have any experience with this? Maybe you jumped in and wished you waited? Or you sleep trained and found yourself wondering, “Why didn’t we do this ages ago?”

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