7 Sleep Training Mistakes You Might Be Making

Sleep training a baby can feel like a never ending task. The moment you feel confident about your child mastering sleep is exactly when things start to shift again. My almost two-year-old, who’s been sleeping through the night steadily for over a year now, recently starting fighting nighttime sleep. The minute she was dropped into her crib she started screaming, crying, and reaching for my husband and I. We had to do a double-take because her behavior was so out of character for a child who normally doesn’t make a peep and sleeps 12 hours a night.

Infant sleep is complicated, in fact it’s probably one of the most common grievances among parents. Have you ever read the book, “Go The F*CK to Sleep”? There is a reason this book is so popular, it’s funny and incredibly relatable – every parent struggles to put their child to sleep at one point or another.

Now that we’ve established sleep training is no walk in the park, ask yourself this – could you be making the process even more difficult?

7 Sleep Training Mistakes You Might Be Making

7 Sleep Training Mistakes You Might Be Making

1. You respond to your child’s cries to quickly. 

This is a common one and possibly the most difficult to avoid. It’s your baby after all.

Think of it like this, do you ever have a difficult time falling asleep? I do. Sometimes it takes me 30 minutes or more to fall asleep. If you answered yes – can you imagine someone coming in and disrupting the process? “Heeeey, I’m totally counting sheep here!”

Every child is different, of course, but if the “sleep time” needs are met {fed, clothed properly, clean diaper} crying is natural and to be expected.

It’s OK to let your baby cry. You’re not a bad parent.

2. The nursery isn’t consistently dark enough. 

I have three words for you, BLACK-OUT-SHADES. If they aren’t in the budget or you live in a rental apartment, throw a blanket or trash bag over the windows {I’ve done this} and make your own.

3. The noise machine stops after 30 minutes. 

There are two purposes of a noise machine, the first one is to drown out disruptive noise and the second is to create a constant soothing sound – all night long. Infants shift in and out of sleep cycles all night, which means a continuous rotation between heavy and light sleeping. If they started the night with the soothing sounds of a whale, but no longer hear that sound at 2am – guess who they’re going to wake up?

Put down the cute lamb {I have one myself} and buy an alarm clock with a real white noise button.

4. You’re not waiting long enough for a sleep transition to stick. 

Whether your baby is dropping a nap, adding a nap, going to bed earlier or later, or moving to take naps in the crib – it takes time for changes to stick. Most sleep training books recommend 14 days of consistency before a habit is formed – I can’t personally attest to the 14-day-fix, but it needs to be at least 7 days. If you are trying something new, stick with it for at least a week or longer before trying something else.

I attempted to transition my newborn’s bed time {from 10pm to 8pm} two years ago and it took almost a month of repetition, but when it stuck – it stuck.

5. You’re not consistent enough. 

Consistency is a reoccurring theme when it concerns sleep training – I swear by it. My daughter’s schedule has always been and continues to be very consistent, but I do have friends who prefer to live a bit more freely and their children sleep just fine.

It’s a big commitment to be consistent, especially when life and fun plans gets in the way. But if you’re searching for a solution to the sleepless nights and inconsistent bed times, look no further and begin to establish a routine.

6. You’re inadvertently enticing your baby to stay awake.

In the early days, I often made the mistake of nursing my daughter in the middle of the night with the sounds of The Tonight Show and the lights on.  I had inadvertently treated my daughter to the equivalent of a Britney Spears’ concert in the middle of the night – no wonder we both struggled to fall back asleep.

Don’t give your baby any reason to want to stay up – even if he or she wants to be soothed or snuggled, do it with dimmed lights and minimal noise. Wake-ups throughout the night are meant to be quick – keep the distractions to a minimum.

7. You’re confused about what “sleep training” really is. 

The term “Sleep Training” generally gets a bad rap – it’s often associated with the Cry-It-Out method {CIO} made famous by Richard Ferber. I know tons of families who believe whole heartedly in the CIO approach, but it’s certainly not for everyone.

To me, sleep training refers to the methods in which we go about teaching our children to sleep. Infants {and then toddlers…} learn from you – their teacher – about when to fall asleep, how to fall asleep alone, how to stay asleep, and so forth.

Sleep training takes a lot of time and patience, but I’m optimistic these tips will help guide you along in the right direction.

Do you have any addition sleep training tips to add?


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4 Responses to 7 Sleep Training Mistakes You Might Be Making

  1. Lisa November 20, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    I swear by white noise! We use an old phone (no longer in service) and use the white noise app to run all night long. We’ve plugged it in so the battery won’t die. Works great but we had to learn the hard way (2 sleep sheeps later).

    We had to retrain Calvin once he transitioned out of the crib into the toddler bed. Getting him to sleep without cuddles was a long process but happened in the end.

  2. Anna Julien November 22, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    I love the white noise. I have a great app on my phone for traveling – maybe it’s the same one! I imagine it’s a tricky transition – any sleep “changes” take some serious patience! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  3. Lynsey November 24, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    Sleep training was hard but was WELL worth it! Great tips and I’m sharing on my site now. Thanks, babe and good job! 🙂

    • Anna Julien November 24, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

      Thanks so much,Lynsey!

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