OPINION: 'Sleep training is not for everybody...but it's a godsend to many'
HerFamily's Sophie White previously wrote a piece on why she didn’t go down the sleep coaching route with her son.
There are so many ways for families to handle sleep issues when they are faced with them. I love Sophie’s attitude and she knows I am not judgmental when it comes to where, how and when babies sleep, until people ask me for advice. Then, I have plenty to offer!
My work as a sleep expert stems from a sincere desire to help struggling families. If any of you read my book “No Fuss Baby and Toddler Sleep”, you'll know I'm of the opinion, 'if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it'. It’s none of my business what any particular family does to get some sleep. My only concern is that they are being safe and informed.
I always make it my business to meet, in person, the families I am working with. By going into their homes and sitting down with them I am able to get a good read of how they like to operate as a family and also get to know the personalities involved.
Sleep training can help a little one and their families get restful sleep in a matter of weeks.For many, the terrible sleep ‘years’ never become a reality! Most families experience a period of poor sleep with their little ones from time-to-time, but it really doesn’t have to be a long term thing.
Sleep training is not always the immediate “fix” you are looking for either. For around 95% of parents, it really helps a family finally get some rest. The other five per cent, where it doesn’t seem to work initially, could be down to outside factors like timing, developmental leaps and milestones. It’s worth bearing in mind that the right time might not be right now and you may have to consider holding off.
But, while you are waiting for the right time, I agree with the sentiment in Sophie’s article that wherever and however you get the most sleep is the best option for you. With the caveat that as long as people are sleeping safely, then anything goes! If someone was to tell me that they were co-sleeping with their child, in a separate room to dad and that everyone was happy, I would probably high five them!
But, if they explained this scenario and were looking for ways to change things, I would be at their door imparting advice and supporting them in a heartbeat.
My opinion is that a little structure and potentially some sleep work will not lead to emotional or behavioural problems later in life. Yes, it can be challenging for both parents and little ones, often any emotional response (and we all know we are talking about crying here), are as a result of frustration because the grown-ups are making changes to how we previously allowed baby/toddler to fall asleep. Using my methods, little ones are never left alone and upset for any long periods of time. Adults remain supportive and present to the little ones should they be upset. They will know you are there and trying to guide them. They just mightn’t like it too much!
And while many of you have become used to waking regularly at night it’s also possible that your little one has too. Chances are, these wake ups could be more habitual rather than anything else. And often quite easily nipped in the bud.
Niamh O’Reilly is a sleep coach. She's also a baby and childcare guru, a 'parent nanny' and the answer to many a weary parent's woes. Niamh's book, No Fuss Baby & Toddler Sleep, is now available to buy from all good book stores or online from Amazon.com.
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