Sleep training gets a bad reputation, but there are lots of benefits. And let’s face it: learning to sleep is one of the big skills babies need to learn.
There is a huge movement within parenting communities and those who work with infants to promote the idea that sleep training is cruel and harmful, despite study after study showing that it is not. So, if the term “sleep training” makes you uncomfortable, or worse, the term makes you angry, you can simply think of it as sleep coaching or sleep learning.
There are a lot of things babies will learn to do in their first year of life and sleep is simply one of them. Some babies will learn how to fall asleep without parental intervention – rocking, feeding, bouncing, patting, etc, to sleep – and some babies will need a mindful approach to gaining this skill. Still others, even when their parents do all the right things, benefit from having a short, 2-3 week, period of methodical sleep coaching.
The benefits of sleep coaching are obvious for babies: they get more sleep. When they are well-rested, babies are calmer and easier to care for.
There are a lot of benefits of sleep coaching for parents, too. Let’s look at those in greater depth.
This is a really obvious one, but like their children, parents need sleep, too. Lack of sleep and chronic fatigue are associated with impaired motor functions and brain responsiveness, weight gain, heart disease and T2 diabetes. Longer, restorative sleep at night is an excellent preventative to systemic inflammation and is the foundation of good health.
Less anxiety and frustration!
Improving sleep for parents means and overall reduction in stress hormones. Even more than that, when sleep coaching leads to a baby who sleeps more reliably, with less parental intervention, parents spend less time feeling frustrated and anxious with themselves, their partners and their babies.
Increased time with their partner!
When you don’t have to hold a baby through their naps and are rushing to your baby’s bedside fewer times throughout the night, you have a lot more time to hang out with your partner. You spend more time laughing with them, being supportive of them, sharing meals with them, enjoying a movie or a TV show with them. And, when you get to spend more time in bed with them and less time taking care of an awake baby overnight, you have a lot more fun in bed with your partner!
A greater sense of mastery as a parent!
Let’s face it. When your baby isn’t sleeping well, you will not be feeling like a great parent. You’re probably spending a lot of time second-guessing yourself and feeling like a failure. The blow to your confidence can have far reaching negative effects on your parenting. But helping your baby learn to sleep well can restore your confidence and allow you to be a more mindful parent.
Parents who are looking to reap the benefits of sleep coaching their babies should discuss their needs with a Sleep Consultant. They will be able to evaluate the sleep needs of a family and provide a clear and compassionate step-by-step approach to helping your baby learn to sleep better.