If a good night’s sleep is on the top of your wish list this season you may be thinking about sleep training during the holidays. But is it really a good idea to teach sleep skills during this busy time of year? Ask yourself the following questions to decide if the time is right, or if it’s better to hold off until after the holidays are over.
Is your child old enough? Most babies aren’t developmentally ready to learn long term sleep skills until they’re at least 4.5 or 5 months of age. Sleep training very young babies is not recommended, so if your baby isn’t there yet, you’ll need to wait a bit longer before starting. Focus instead on creating positive associations with sleep, creating an environment for sleep and giving your baby frequent opportunities to sleep. Continue doing whatever it takes to keep your baby well rested, and don’t worry that you’re creating bad habits by rocking, feeding or holding your baby until they nod off. Nothing you do in the early months to keep your baby well rested will get in the way of them learning long term sleep skills when the time is right.
Has your pediatrician given you the green light? If you haven’t already, be sure to discuss your child’s sleep problems with your pediatrician and ask for a thumbs up for sleep training. If your child is struggling with reflux, food sensitivities or any other underlying medical issues that may effect sleep, you’ll want to be sure that those problems are being managed effectively before moving forward with a sleep coaching plan.
Do you have the time? Improving children’s sleep takes time, energy, and consistency. Look at your calendar. If you have major plans, especially those that involve traveling and overnight stays, hold off on the training for now. A day trip to see friends or family may not get in the way of successful sleep training, but traveling across time zones or sleeping in unfamiliar places probably will. Remember that the key to successful coaching is consistency. The more consistent you can be the easier it will be for your child to learn.
Are you having house guests, and will they be supportive? If you’ll be having house guests for the holidays, make sure that everyone is supportive of your sleep training plans. Let everyone know in advance what you’re doing and why it’s important. Pressure from well meaning loved ones to keep the baby up late or skip naps (or not sleep train at all) can add to the stress and make you feel guilty for trying to do what’s best for your child. If you don’t have the support of those around you, put off training until they’ve headed back home.
Do you have a solid coaching plan? Before you dive in and start coaching, be sure that you have a solid, age appropriate plan and realistic expectations. Learning sleep skills doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re confused about where to start, think about asking for help from an experienced and reputable sleep consultant that can create a customized plan that works for your family.
Sweet Dreams and Happy Holidays!
Alison Bevan – Sleepytime Coach
Pediatric Sleep Consultant – The Center For Advanced Pediatrics
Are you planning on sleep training this holiday season? Let us know how it goes!