Regular readers of this blog, and those who follow me on Facebook or Twitter (and indeed current and former clients) will know that I am a huge advocate of gentle sleep training. I do not believe that any other sleep method is beneficial for your baby, and I passionately believe that gentle parenting is the most effective and rewarding approach to take. I’ve written before about my views on methods such as cry it out, and I am no afraid to stand up and say that I 100% do not agree with it. With that in mind, here are just three reasons why gentle sleep training is the best approach. Do let me know what you think in the comments.
What is gentle sleep training?
Simply put, gentle sleep training means being present and ready to tend to your baby when she needs you. Not leaving her to cry, but responding to her needs and teaching her that you are there for her when she needs you. In return, your baby will learn to trust that you are there, and will start to accept that independent sleep is not only safe, but a good thing to do. Gentle sleep training is by no means linear; nor is it easy. It tends to take a little longer, but it does mean that you and your baby are able to form a close and precious bond during sleep training. This is something that many parents tell me is often compromised with other sleep training methods.
Why gentle sleep training is the best approach
Here are just three reasons. Let me know your thoughts.
- The process is a lot kinder- for the whole family. If you are wanting to start sleep training but you are hesitant because you’re not sure you can ‘put your baby through it’ then a gentle approach is for you. Traditionally, parents tend to view sleep training as leaving baby to cry, no matter what. That, or spending night after night creeping in and out of baby’s bedroom whilst at the same time getting no sleep. Gentle sleep training is different. You don’t leave your baby to cry. You don’t do anything that you aren’t comfortable with. You adapt the training to suit you and your baby and there are no restrictions on you. There is limited stress because you are simply meeting your baby’s needs whilst at the same time teaching her to sleep independently. Yes, this takes a little longer. But the end result and the process as a whole is a lot less stressful.
- Other methods are not as effective. It’s true. While leaving your baby to cry it out might seem to be work fairly quickly, studies have found that the impacts of this approach are less effective overall. All that your baby is learning is that crying out for you has no affect and that she cannot trust you to meet her needs. This does not mean that she has learnt to sleep any better than before, it just means that she has given up trying to call for you. And often what parents find is that something comes along- teething, sleep regression, illness etc- and the poor sleeping habits return. So with that, the stressful process of cry it out is also re-introduced. And this often means that it can take a little longer each time, the older your baby is. Gentle sleep training, in contrast, teaches long lasting habits for babies, whilst nurturing and encouraging them to be confident and calm at sleep time.
- Gentle sleep training helps you to understand your baby and her needs a lot more deeply. Because you are going to be spending a lot of time analysing her routine, her needs and her reactions to certain situations, you are going to develop an especially close bond with your baby. Not only that but you are going to spend a lot of time observing her sleep patterns, watching her fall asleep and helping her to move from one sleep cycle to another. Maybe you are also bed sharing with your baby while you’re breastfeeding, and this is something I tell many families to continue if it works for them. The beauty of gentle sleep training is that you are responding to your baby’s needs with your own needs in mind too. Its a win-win situation for you all.