By Brittney Stefanic
Safe at home
With most of us safe at home for the next few weeks, many families have been reaching out to see if now is the right time to teach the skill of sleep. Although the answer varies from family to family, based on sleep needs, sleep struggles and sleep goals, the overwhelming answer is YES!
While we are safe at home with little interference from other scheduled events, preschool pickup, swim lessons, and soccer practice, this is a WONDERFUL time to teach a new skill. Whether that is potty training, riding a bike, or sleeping independently... Let’s use this gift of time to our advantage, mamas!
If we are ready to sleep teach now, what method should we use?
The most important thing about picking a method is that you stick with it! When little ones get confused, they protest. Most families want to get through the process with as little crying as possible, so avoiding confusion is KEY!
As for crying… Parents are always wondering about their baby crying during the process (how long will they cry, how long should I let them cry, what do I do if they cry) while making habit changes with sleep, and the truth is… Change is hard! Since babies can’t communicate with words by telling you that they are thrown off by the changes, most of them cry (a least a little bit) when their routines are changed.
BUT this does not have to mean that you need to leave the baby alone in a room to cry for hours on end. There are tons of methods out there, so do a little research and find one that feels like a good fit for your family! The more comfortable you are with the plan you select, the better success you will see.
There are lots of sleep training methods available, so find something that feels comfortable and stick to it. If you search Pinterest or Google you will instantly find blogs that outline various methods (CIO, chair, leave and check, control intervals, among others) that fit the needs of different families. The method of “sleep teaching” that you select will depend on the age and weight of your little, your sensitivity to crying, your ultimate sleep goals and how quickly you want the process to work.
Holding off for a bit
This is going to sound CRAZY coming from a certified sleep consultant, but there are most definitely times when sleep training needs to be put on the back burner.
You may consider holding off on sleep training if you:
• don’t think your little one can sleep better,
• go rogue on the plan and don’t follow through,
• are stuck in the belief that “this is just the way it has to be”,
• aren’t ready to make changes,
• think that you can’t do it,
• are stressed/anxious/overwhelmed because of current world circumstances.
There is a famous quote by Henry Ford that fits this blog 100%... “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Whatever you think, you are right
If you think you can sleep train, you can. If you think your little one can learn the skill, they can. If you think you can follow a plan, you can. If you think you and your partner can be on the same page, you can. If you think this is exactly what you need right now for the betterment of your family, you can do it!
But if you are convinced that it won't work, it won’t. If you are consumed by thoughts of it staying this way forever, it won’t work now. If you don’t think you can do it, you can’t. And if you don’t think your babe can, they can’t.
That is a truth bomb that was hard for me to type out and probably even harder for you to read. But it is honest and from my heart. You’ve got to BELIEVE that this is the right time. And more importantly, you have to be confident that it will work.
Sit with that. For just a second. Stop scrolling and say that quote in your mind or out loud.
If you think you can do the hard thing, you can.
But if you think you can’t, you can’t, mama.
The choice is yours!
We all have a lot on our minds right now, and it is okay if you don’t feel like this home-bound time is the right time to make changes to sleep (or anything else) in your family. But, I urge you to really look deep at where those thoughts are coming from because for MOST OF US, this is actually the perfect time to step outside of our comfort zone and do some things that we’ve been holding back.
Maybe the hard thing for you this week is figuring out how the heck to log onto Zoom for virtual learning. Maybe it is making it through the day without reaching for the wine. Maybe it’s showing up for yourself by getting off the couch and moving your body. Maybe you want to take the time this week to organize a closet or donate some toys you no longer use. Or maybe it is sleep teaching. None of these things will work if you don’t have belief in yourself.
I know you can do it... But you need to know you can.
Now is when sleep matters most
If you are still feeling on the fence about diving into the tough stuff to make sleep changes, I want to leave you with this. Getting enough sleep is one of the ways our bodies produce infection-fighting antibodies. During rest and recovery, the immune system releases proteins which can help with decreasing inflammation, infection and stress.
However, without enough sleep, the production of these proteins is limited which creates a deficit in immune response. During this time of high viral presence, OUR KIDDOS NEED SLEEP as much as they need time outside, healthy meals, plenty of water and all of our tender, love, and care!
And for our own mental health, there’s something so calming about little ones who are napping so mama can have an hour to get caught up on work, get the dishes put away, make time for an online workout or even just binge-watch Tiger King! Sleep heals the body and the soul, mama!
Brittney Stefanic is a certified whole-family sleep consultant and founder of Sleeper Teachers Sleep Consulting. As a recovering worry-wart, she understands firsthand that it is easy to let fear and a racing mind worry you with all that is going on in the world. But as a sleep educator, Brittney believes in the healing power of sleep, rest and recovery for the whole family. Brittney and her team love educating and supporting families around the world in finding sleep solutions. You can follow the teachers on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook @sleeperteachers for sleep tips and tricks.