Why Sleep Training is NOT Synonymous with Cry It Out
How to get your baby to sleep better without using a settling technique
Hearing your baby cry is really hard – and I don’t think I’ve met a single mum who’s ever really felt perfectly fine hearing it.
We’re programmed to have a stress response to our baby’s cry, so that we can protect them if they’re in danger.
There’s lots of scaremongering out there on the internet around crying and the way it affects the brain – however studies show that cry based settling techniques are actually really safe to use(1) and as much as we’d like to avoid it, sometimes our babies will cry, for any number of reasons –
- wet through,
- and importantly, when TIRED.
However, it’s really important that we differentiate between what sleep training is and what a cry based settling technique is – because they’re two different things.
Sleep training certainly never just means putting your baby into a cot and leaving them to cry – in fact if you’ve done anything in an attempt to improve sleep, including giving your baby a cuddly or a dummy, looking to help them soothe with patting, or making their room dark, you’ve done some form of sleep training!
I know right?!
You little baby trainer you......
When we work with you, you’ll find that our approach to sleep training is really holistic!
We’re not only looking at the way baby goes to sleep at the moment, we’re considering
- their personality,
- their sleep environment,
- sleep associations,
- their feeds and
- their natural nap windows and
- sleep biorhythms,
- and importantly – your parenting style.
There is absolutely no one right way to raise a baby or child and we pride ourselves on accepting our parents as they are and tailoring a solution that works for them!
The reason we want to look at all these other aspects to do with your baby’s day is because really, we hate hearing crying too!
Most of us are mums, and we know the stress that you can feel hearing your baby cry.
By taking a completely holistic approach to baby and child sleep we can help avoid unnecessary tears and ensure that any tears quickly decrease so that the process is a lot faster, and importantly, easier, for you and your baby.
Things you can do to improve your baby’s sleep without even thinking about a settling technique:
Unfortunately, even with the gentlest of approaches, when you’re adjusting a sleep association sometimes babies will cry.
This isn’t because they feel unloved or abandoned.....
It’s because they’re tired and they’re not yet sure how to go to settle to sleep without their usual method yet!
You can be right alongside them supporting them through this, but if you’re not ready to do so, here are some tips to help naturally set you up for better sleep without that.
Sleep Environment: Take a look around your baby’s room – is it dark enough? Are there distractions like mobiles above the cot that could be moved somewhere else, like the change table?
Do you have some white noise playing for the entire duration of their nap or overnight sleep?
Is the temperature between 18-20 degrees?
Awake Time: Often this is the difference between good naps, or not so good, and a baby being overtired or not!
As a rough guide, aim for about 2 hours awake at 4 months, 2hr15mins at 5months, 2.5hours at 6 months, and 2.5-4 hours after 7-8 months when they’ve dropped that last nap. (get our detailed nap routines and sleep programs here)
Often if a baby’s awake time is too short, their naps will be short because not enough sleep debt has built; and if their awake time is much too long, they’ll be overtired and nap poorly as a result too.
Both of these things lead to evening waking – so if you’re seeing waking in the first 3 hours after bed for the night, your naps might need addressing.
Feeds: Of course, we want to ensure baby is growing well to be confident in their ability to sleep for decent stretches.
After 6 months of age, natural iron and protein stores get depleted, and often ensuring some meat protein is given at lunch and encouraging consumption of good low GI carbs really helps assist with sleep naturally.
If your baby is growing well but is under 6 months, a couple of night feeds might still be necessary.
Generally, after we introduce solids we can start to drop back on those night feeds. Another thing to consider is if your baby is feeding lots overnight – this can impact on their daytime feeding – we call this reverse cycling.
To get out of this cycle, try to settle your baby in other ways for extending periods of time overnight so those feeds get stretched further apart.
Settling Approach: Often, looking at the above things will help you to get improvement in your baby’s sleep without even having to consider using a settling technique.
Another way to improve your situation is to look at the way your baby falls asleep now and see if you can slowly back away from that approach – for example, if you’re feeding to sleep, can you start feeding them until just calm and then soothing them to sleep in your arms?
This can be a slow process but it’s a really good one to take if you’re feeling like you’re not ready to make big changes right now.
You can simply spend more time soothing them in your arms before offering the breast to calm them, and then when you’re ready, work on solely soothing them in your arms before transferring to the cot.
If you’d like some guidance or support in implementing all of these changes, get in touch with us any time!
We can’t guarantee there’ll be no tears, but we do guarantee that we’ll support you and your baby to ensure these diminish really quickly, and you’ll see improvement in sleep within two weeks with any of our one on one packages, or your money back!
Our Baby Sleep Program helps tired parents TO DEVELOP HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS BY FOCUSING ON NAPS, SETTLING AND NIGHT SLEEP.
- Empowered: Feel empowered as a Mum as you learn to understand your growing baby's needs and cues.
- Simple effective settling: Gentle, proven self settling, evidence based techniques.
- Content happy baby and parents: Better sleep creates content babies & happy parents.
- Freedom: Predictable routines and longer nights creates freedom. Solve your sleep problems for more freedom.
- Work with your babies circadian rhythm: Work with your babies biological clock for faster easier results.
- Awesome naps & nights: You'll create consistent naps and nights with our support.
Try our online sleep program, complete with FREE email support.
My baby has reflux can you help?
When your baby has reflux, feeds can be difficult and your baby can be in a lot of pain both during and after feeds. This pain can cause feeding aversions and failure to thrive. This is why true GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) needs to be treated by a doctor. Once your baby's doctor is satisfied your baby is feeding well, and you have the right medication or formula then we can start a sleep plan and you will be successful.
My baby has colic will this help?
Colic is defined as 3 or more hours of crying per day in infants. Crying subsides in the second second trimester. If you are still experiencing colic symptoms speak to your baby's doctor about whether this could be reflux, an allergy, or over tiredness. We can help you work on better sleep with this program at the same time as your doctor investigates the pain and crying.
What if the program isn't working?
We have a dedicated help line to ensure your success. Just email our team via the details in your program and a certified, experienced and friendly sleep consultant is ready to stare you in the right direction to ensure your success!
My baby was born early, can you help?
Sleep is neurological so we always work off your babies neurological age, that is their corrected age. When you look at our sleep programs purchase the program that your babies corrected age fits into.
What if I have questions or need more help?
Our sleep programs come with private email support. You don’t have to post in any public forums or groups, just email the exclusive helpline that our team of certified sleep consultants look after and we’ll answer all your questions and help you on your way.
Can this program help with my babies night sleep?
Yes, all our online sleep programs contain night sleep plans. We will teach you how to move from multiple night feeds to 2 or 1 or none (depending on what is age appropriate and appropriate for your baby.) Don’t worry we will show you to figure this out too. If your baby is unsettled at night but not feeding, our plans will help you with consolidate night sleep and self settling when age appropriate.
My baby is cat napping can you help?
Cat napping is a very normal physiological stage that your baby goes through. At this stage (3-8 months old), cat napping can start to be a long term issue and compound into over tiredness and affect night sleep and your babies happiness. Good news, this is a great age to work on re-settling, self settling and better longer naps!
I have 3 children, can this work with my family?
I totally understand how busy life is with 2, 3 or more children! Even if you need a flexible schedule we can still work on settling regular naps (some on the go!), and better evenings and night. Flick our consultants any specific questions about your family's schedule of activities and we can help you work out what is possible nap wise.
I don't want a fixed routine, can you still help?
Yes. A fixed routine is one option, regular naps and regular awake times is another. Both are valid and you are welcome to do what works for your family. We understand you are all different and what works best for one family won't be best for another.
I'm formula feeding, can you still help?
Yes we have specific advice for formula feeding parents, and we support your decision to feed any way you choose. We even have a special video series on formula feeding and everything you need to know. Just ask our consultants about this extra if you need it.
I'm exclusively breastfeeding, can I follow your plans?
Yes! While breastfeeding babies need to feed frequently they still need quality sleep day and night. We have specific advice for breastfeeding mums and an exclusive discount on Julia Daleys breastfeeding course if you need extra help.
I'm bed sharing, can your program help me stop?
Yes. We often fall into bed sharing, we call this reactive bed sharing. Or we have simply changed our mind, and moving on from bed sharing we need some support. Our programs and consults will guide you through gentle sleep methods, which are more appropriate for most bed sharing babies who are moving towards independent sleep in the cot.
I'm feeding to sleep, can you help me stop?
Yes. Feeding to sleep is a common sleep association and one that works well for lots of newborns. Often we need to move on from feeding to sleep when it starts to cause short naps, or prolonged settling or frequent night wake ups as baby looks for their association to go back to sleep over and over again at night. We can teach you how to teach your baby to self settle and move on from feeding to sleep when the time is right.
I'm rocking to sleep, is their a solution?
Yes. These are common sleep associations, we refer to this as assisting to sleep. Let us show you ways you can develop independent sleep and settling strategies with our online sleep program, or one on one consult.
Is this program based on Cry It Out?
No. Cry it out is the common name for a sleep training method where you put baby down and don’t respond or check until they are fast asleep. There is no CIO involved in this program as we feel this should be only done under proper supervision. Instead we have included all our very gentle approaches and more mainstream techniques for you to choose from.
Is this based on Science or Art?
Both! As a scientist I (Emma) have spent over 8 years researching the science of sleep. I have educated and certified over 500 consultants around the world as sleep consultants, and have worked with thousands of clients. I love the scientific explanations of why we see the sleep patterns we see, and this science helps us to shape plans and solutions that we know will work. But there's an element of art to getting a baby to sleep, understanding the right combination of things that will work best, and this is where your instinct comes in.
Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!