Common sleep training mistakes: part one

Most families that come to us with child sleep problems have tried some form of sleep training on their own and it hasn’t worked. They often feel like they have tried everything and think that it will take a miracle from us to get their little one sleeping soundly when really they’ve just had their own attempts derailed by one of the common mistakes that we see every day. The Baby Sleep Company is doing a special blog series on the common pitfalls of DIY sleep training. 

Sleep training mistake #1 - No consistency!

I have often said to clients that the best laid sleep plans are made by the light of day. No matter which sleep training method you choose (and they definitely vary!), it is not worth the paper it is written on if you aren’t consistent. I understand – I TOTALLY get it. You’re so bone-numbingly tired that it’s too hard to follow through for the third time that night but this is what we need to prepare for! You need to choose the technique that you feel okay with and make the commitment to stick to it consistently for at least a week. So often parents tell me that they’ve “tried controlled crying” but when I ask a couple of questions about it, it comes out that it was actually tried at 3am in desperation after a 2 hour long battle to try to get their baby sleeping. Not ideal circumstances!

Understand the technique

Before embarking on any sleep training attempt, you need to completely understand how the technique works and exactly how you are going to react to any given scenario. Take the time to process it and really visualise how the night will unfold. By preparing yourself mentally you are MUCH more likely to be able to follow through. Ask questions – lots! If you’ve had help from a baby sleep consultant then they should be able to answer any questions you have and reassure you that what you’ve chosen to do is fine.

Make sure everyone is on board

If you are going to try to be consistent with your approach it isn’t going to be helpful for you to have another influencing adult there who doesn’t agree with what you’re doing and how you’re doing it (your partner, mother, mother-in-law or friends can be culprits of this). Sit down and talk through why this is so important to you and what you hope to achieve. It’s often the case that the other adult doesn’t quite realise how badly the situation is affecting you and once they do they are more supportive of the sleep plan. If after discussing and explaining you still don’t feel like they are going to be supportive then perhaps it is possible to encourage them to not be there while you are doing sleep training. As a baby sleep consultant, I have seen MANY families where dad or someone else has had to stay with friends for a couple of nights – way more preferable than staying and making mama feel terrible for trying to help her baby sleep.

Choose your timing

Once you start sleep training with your little one it’s normally best if you can keep a consistent routine for at least a couple of weeks (a month is ideal). Things to consider are holidays away, major events (like weddings), late dinners out and people coming to stay… to name just a few. Some things are unavoidable and honestly when we’re talking about families with multiple children and big extended families it is unlikely that we can ever find a month straight without SOMETHING on but avoiding obvious disruptions (like camping trips or in-laws staying which means baby has to move bedrooms) is definitely advisable. 


Say! You might also be interested in reading one of these equally enthralling articles:

Sleep training while keeping an overnight feed

Helping children deal with anxiety

When can my baby sleep through the night?



If you would like personalised help with any sleep issue for a child, newborn to 5 years, contact The Baby Sleep Company today on 0457 473 725 or click here to send us an email.


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