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3 Myths About Sleep Training Every Parent Should Know

baby sleeping peacefully after parents didn’t believe myths about sleep training

Quality sleep is one of the cornerstones of healthy living. It improves your productivity, focus, and patience. So, when I hear objections based on myths about sleep training, I am driven to correct them.

As a parent, I am sure you’ve heard, “They’re only little once, enjoy this time,” or “You’re not sleeping… what did you expect when you decided to have children?”

Yes, cherish this precious time as your little one won’t stay little forever, but it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice sleep. Your child can learn the skills to sleep all night long.

Sleep training works. So, let’s address three common myths about sleep training.

Sleep Training Myth #1 – Your Baby Will Be Mad at You in the Morning

One of the biggest fears parents have is that sleep training will make their baby mad at them. They worry that it will strain their bond. However, this fear is based on a misunderstanding of how babies react to changes.

Babies naturally resist all changes to their cozy routines, and that includes sleep training. When you start this process, your baby will likely show some resistance. This is a natural response to any change in routine. 

Initial crying and fussiness are normal as your baby adjusts. You’re making changes to your baby’s sleep habits by teaching them the skills to sleep on their own. It’s safe to assume that your baby isn’t going to be happy about not being rocked or nursed to sleep anymore. And the way babies usually express their displeasure is with crying.

However, this crying doesn’t mean your baby is mad at you or doesn’t love you.

Parenting is much more than bedtime. It’s the cuddles, feeding, playing, laughing, kissing, and so on. Your baby will continue to feel your love through all these daily activities. There will be resistance when you start sleep training, just like when you alter anything else in your child’s routine. 

Once your little one learns the necessary skills, they’ll be happier and healthier than before. As long as you’re a loving, attentive parent, they’ll know your love and care through everything you do, not just at bedtime.

Sleep Training Myth #2: Sleep Training Requires You to Let Your Baby Cry-It-Out!

Many parents worry that sleep training means leaving their baby to cry-it-out (CIO). This is a common misconception.

Different Methods of Sleep Training

There are several methods of sleep training beyond CIO. One of the biggest advantages of hiring a sleep coach, rather than taking an online course or reading a book, is the ability to customize the plan to suit your family and child. A sleep coach can customize a plan that fits your needs and comfort level. Gentle techniques, such as the chair method and the pick-up/put-down method, are effective alternatives.

At Tender Transitions, your sleep coach will never ask you to leave your child alone or ignore their cries. Our coaching is not a cry-it-out program. For example, if it will make you feel better, you can stay in your child’s room during the sleep training process. We’ll provide you with options for offering your child comfort and support as they figure out a strategy for how to make sleep happen for themselves.

Realistic Expectations

It’s important to be realistic: some crying is inevitable. Babies naturally resist changes, and adjusting to a new way of sleeping will involve some discomfort. However, crying doesn’t mean your baby is being harmed. It’s a normal reaction to change.

You can be there to reassure and comfort your baby. At the beginning, your baby will be confused about why they aren’t being rocked or nursed to sleep anymore. This confusion and frustration will result in crying, but you can stay with them and provide calm reassurance. And remember, this period of change is only temporary.

Gradual Adjustment

Consistency is key. With a consistent routine, your baby will start to adjust to the new sleep habits. Over time, as your baby gets more comfortable with the new routine, the crying will decrease. Repeated exposure to the new way of sleeping helps your baby feel secure and understand what to expect.

The long-term benefits of sleep training are worth the short-term challenges. Better sleep for your baby means better sleep for the entire family. Your baby will be happier and more well-rested during the day, which makes for a happier home overall.

Myth #3 – Sleep Training Is Too Stressful for Babies

Many parents worry that sleep training is too stressful for their babies, fearing it might cause long-term harm. This fear leads many parents to choose not to try sleep training. But the good news is, it’s not something you need to worry about. Let me explain why.

Understanding Cortisol and Stress Levels

Maybe you’ve heard that sleep training can cause a temporary increase in cortisol levels. This cortisol spike is a natural response as your baby adjusts to a new sleep routine. Cortisol is often misunderstood, but it is a natural hormone that helps regulate many functions in the body. Short-term increases in cortisol are normal and not harmful. Cortisol only becomes a concern in long-term neglectful situations, not during the temporary process of sleep training. The brief rise in cortisol during sleep training is not harmful.

Managing Temporary Stress During Sleep Training

The best way to decrease stress and lower the cortisol spike is by being present and supportive during sleep training. Your baby needs to know you are there for them. 

Provide calm reassurance to help your baby through the transition. Your presence and soothing voice can significantly reduce their stress. Remember, any stress or crying during sleep training is temporary. Babies adapt quickly, and the initial discomfort will soon pass.

By understanding the nature of cortisol and providing consistent support, you can help your baby through the sleep training process without undue stress.

Sleep Training Benefits

The ongoing benefits of restful sleep for you and your baby outweigh the few nights of discomfort at the beginning of sleep training.

Better Health for Your Baby

Good sleep is crucial for your baby’s physical and mental development. A well-rested baby is less likely to get sick and more likely to reach developmental milestones on time. Sleep supports brain development, boosts the immune system, and helps regulate emotions.

Improved Sleep for the Whole Family

When your baby sleeps better, everyone in the family sleeps better. Parents who get enough sleep are better equipped to handle the demands of parenting. A well-rested family is a happier, healthier family. Better sleep can reduce stress, improve mood, and make family life smoother.

Happier Baby During the Day

A baby who sleeps well at night is typically happier and more content during the day. They are more alert, engaged, and ready to learn. Good sleep can lead to better behavior and improved attention spans, making daytime activities more enjoyable for both the baby and the parents.

Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits

Sleep training helps establish healthy sleep habits that can last a lifetime. By teaching your baby how to self-soothe and fall asleep independently, you are setting them up for a lifetime of good sleep practices. These skills are important as your child grows and faces new challenges.

Better Parenting Experience

Knowing that your baby is getting the rest they need can make your parenting experience more enjoyable. With better sleep, you have more energy and patience to enjoy the precious moments with your little one. It also gives you some much-needed time for yourself, which is essential for maintaining your well-being.

Sleep training, when done with love and consistency, can lead to happier, healthier, and well-rested families. The initial effort pays off in the form of long-term benefits that make the journey worthwhile.

Let’s Chat!

If one or more of the myths we covered have been holding you back from taking the simple steps needed to create long-term, positive change for your child’s sleep, reach out to us. Schedule a 20-minute, no-obligation call to see how Tender Transitions can help you.

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