A little nighttime reading
The top 5 infant sleep training myths
Dr. Rebecca Kempton, a certified infant and toddler sleep specialist at Baby Sleep Pro, is on a mission to help families get the sleep they need. In this guest post for Slumbr, she helps parents understand common myths around sleep training. If you're looking for some help on how to get your baby or child to sleep well, check out her site: babysleeppro.com.
- Letting my baby cry for hours i.e. using the “cry it out” (CIO) method is the only way to teach him to sleep through the night.
Good news! Teaching your child to sleep better doesn’t mean you have to leave them to their own devices in their room alone. Other more gradual methods that involve more parental input (but still some crying!) including Check and Console and the Chair method work equally well. The “Cry it Out” method, also known as Extinction, popularized by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, MD is only one of many effective techniques for helping your baby sleep better. The key to success is being 100% consistent implementing whatever method you choose. Note: For Dr. Kempton's rundown of sleep training methods, go here.
2. Since I am still nursing or feeding my baby a couple times a night, it is impossible to get him to sleep any better.
You can teach your baby to become a good sleeper even if your baby is still nursing or drinking a bottle a couple times a night. Sleep training a baby who still feeds at night makes the return to sleep easier and faster; it also can make those night feedings more predictable and lead to longer stretches in between feedings. Healthy sleep habits are particularly important for nursing moms and “night feeders” because of positive effects both on family stress and on baby’s mood and development.
3. Because we live in cramped quarters with no extra room for our baby, we cannot begin sleep training.
Challenges abound when raising infants and toddlers –- and especially raising them in small confined spaces. But that should not stop you from teaching them healthy sleep habits. Be creative! If your infant doesn’t have their own room, try putting the portable crib in a large closet or even a windowless bathroom. If there are windows in the bathroom, tape black garbage bags using blue painter’s tape or buy an inexpensive blackout shade. Create a room divider by tacking a large sheet to the ceiling. Sometimes it’s the parents that need to move into the living room to allow the baby to sleep in a dark, quiet bedroom.
4. Allowing my baby to cry without soothing him will affect our bonding and potentially damage him.
There is nothing more feverishly debated in the world of sleep training than the effects of allowing babies to cry to teach them how to self sooth. But multiple studies have proven the following results:
a) no negative consequences of crying during sleep training
b) major benefits to both the child and the family of being well rested
c) potential long term learning, developmental, behavioral issues in sleep deprived children
d) higher rates of maternal depression, marital discord and negativity toward children in parents of sleep deprived children
So giving your child the tools to sleep better offers life-long benefits, allowing babies to develop into healthy toddlers and giving you the rest you need to be a confident and happy parent!
- Sleep training increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
This myth is easy to debunk: Sleep training has never been linked with SIDS. For the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for safe sleep practices, read this article.
Check out these other guest posts from Dr. Rebecca Kempton:
5 easy tips to help your baby sleep through the night
I decided to sleep train my baby, what method works best?
After graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from Dartmouth and an M.D. from Cornell Medical School, Rebecca Kempton worked for several years as a medical director for healthcare technology and pharmaceutical companies before becoming certified as a pediatric sleep specialist and starting her own business, Baby Sleep Pro. Using a variety of behavioral techniques, she customizes sleep solutions based on individual family goals and children’s temperaments and coaches families to a better night’s sleep. Dr. Kempton works with clients both nationally and globally by phone, Skype, and email and with home visits. She lives in Chicago, with her husband and three children, ages 8 and under.
Image credit: © Can Stock Photo / 4774344sean