After working with families for 3+ years we have found some common denominators when it comes to sleep training not working out as well as it should. If you are considering doing sleep work with any aged child, I would recommend reviewing this list to be sure you’re doing it at the most ideal time.
Timing Developmentally: First of all, timing has to be right for the baby developmentally. Prior to 4 months adjusted age babies aren’t ready for intensive behavioral work around sleep. This is because we aren’t sure that their circadian rhythm is fully developed yet and cannot expect a lovely night of overnight sleep and 3-4 naps during the day. Once a baby is 4 months adjusted age the more traditional forms of sleep training are rather effective. Prior to 4 months we recommend regular naps and practicing good sleeping skills, but nothing that is too intensive.
Timing for the Family: Another factor that impacts the success rate of sleep training is timing in terms of the family’s schedule. If you have visitors, travels, moves, school starting or any major transition occurring in the coming month, hold off on sleep training. To get everything in order tends to take 2 weeks of being consistent and sort of strict with your schedule. Once everything is in order you should relish in your success a bit before doing anything too disruptive. So, check your schedule and give yourself a good 3-4 weeks’ time to do sleep training. If you don’t have it, hold off a bit until you do!
Expectations are too high: Sleep training can be really hard emotionally and it can take some time. When a caregiver expects perfection in a short amount of time, things do not tend to go well. At Rockabye Rockies we forewarn parents that it may take 2-3 weeks to see their ideal sleeper and, that their ideal sleeper may not have the exact schedule that they dreamed of. As I like to remind people, we are dealing with humans, not robots. Their body has an internal clock that decides if they will be an early riser or night owl.
Bad Advice: You won’t find it here, but sometimes you just get bad advice. There is an overwhelming amount of information online and in books about sleep. We recommend you work with a reputable sleep consultant, read a really well reviewed sleep book, or speak to well-educated parents to get the best possible advice around sleep so that you can accomplish your goals quickly and in the best manner possible.
Emotionally Not Ready: Sleep training can be really hard. If you are not ready to tackle the challenge (aka hear crying, be a bit more tired, stay consistent, persevere) for 2-3 weeks. Hold off and try again later.
Caregivers Are on Different Pages: All caregivers need to be ready and willing to do this work. If they aren’t it’s not the right time. Simple as that!