sleep training

Sleep Training Newborns

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One of the most commonly requested things from our Nightingale Clients is that we sleep train their newborns. But what actually is sleep training?

Experts say:

“Sleep training is the process of training young children to fall asleep on their own, typically by means of techniques in which the child is left to cry without being comforted, either for gradually increasing periods of time or until they fall asleep.”

Oxford Dictionary

“Simply put, sleep training—also called sleep teaching or sleep learning—is the process of helping your infant learn how to fall asleep and stay asleep.”

The Bump

At Nightingales, we have a bit of a different definition. We differentiate between something called sleep conditioning and sleep training.

Nightingales’ Sleep Conditioning Definition

Sleep Conditioning is teaching your baby, gently, how to get the best quality sleep possible. It’s utilizing all of the tools in your disposal to teach your baby healthy sleep habits. This is generally done in a baby’s first four months.

Sleep Conditioning Explained:

Let’s dive in. Our goal at Nightingales is to get your baby sleeping to the best of their individual ability. If your baby is gaining appropriately, doesn’t have any issues with colic, gas or reflux, and is generally healthy and happy…then our goal is to start working on SLEEP!

There is no magic wand when it comes to making newborns sleep better. Our whole process leans heavily on a few different things:

  1. Slowly stretching nighttime feeds. This means if your baby usually eats at 2am, the next night we will try to hold them off until 2:10, and the night after that 2:20. Over time your baby will do longer and longer stretches in between feedings!
  2. Getting your baby on a schedule during the day. If we are only there during the night, then the parents or other caregivers are responsible for this part. We can help you every part of the way. We need to make sure that baby is getting enough to eat during the day, and that they aren’t too overtired to be able to settle to sleep at night.
  3. Teaching your baby to fall asleep independently and fall back to sleep independently! This is a slow process over the first 12 weeks. Our favorite way to do this is by utilizing our Soothing steps

Soothing Steps:

Want to learn more? All of our clients are gifted our Essential Guide that teaches them step-by-step and week-by-week how to get their baby to sleep better. It can also be purchased here.

So to recap, sleep conditioning is a slow, gently process that involves minimal to no crying. Sleep conditioning is being responsive to your baby’s needs and natural rhythms in a developmentally appropriate way.

Nightingales’ Sleep Training Definition

Sleep Training is breaking bad habits, and almost always involves crying. We don’t sleep train babies until they are five months old.

Sleep Training Explained

Now that we have a better understanding of sleep conditioning, we can talk more about sleep training. When parents come to us with older babies/young toddlers and they are overwhelmed, exhausted and looking for solutions, then we talk to them about sleep training. Nobody needs to sleep train their child. Sleep training is only necessary when the parents and/or the babies are not getting the restful, quality sleep that their bodies desire and deserve.

Sleep training is replacing unhealthy sleep habits with better ones. Just like for adults, change for babies is hard. We at nightingales will talk to you about where your baby is right now, where you want them to be, and how to get them there. There is almost no way to sleep train your baby without tears. Even the most gentle of methods still involve crying, the difference is just that you are holding them while they yell in your ear!

A sleep training plan should take into account a variety of factors:

  • Nutrition:: Are they eating enough total? Are they eating enough during the day? Are they capable of sleeping through the night without a feeding?
  • Environment:: Is your baby comfortable in their sleep space? Are they safe? Is their space dark enough?
  • Stimulation:: Is your baby getting enough movement and stimulation during their awake times? Or, are they getting too much stimulation/input to process?
  • Schedule:: What is their daytime schedule? Is it consistent?

Can The Nightingales Sleep Train My Baby?

Well, yes and no.

We can’t sleep train babies on a standard overnight shift. Our overnight team is comprised of Newborn Care Specialists and Postpartum Doulas. It is not within their scope of training to create and implement a sleep training plan.

We DO have Sleep Consultants at Nightingale Night Nurses. We can support you virtually, or in your home. Some things to know about our sleep training services

  • We only do “sleep training” for babies over 5 months old.
  • All of our plans come with 30 days of virtual support.
  • We take into account all of the things mentioned above [nutrition, environment, stimulation, schedule]
  • We work together to create goals for your baby
  • We work together to come up with a plan to get there. We don’t offer a one size fits all plan.
  • Sleep training is 24/7. You can’t just work on nighttime without working on naps. Everyone caring for the baby has to be on board with being consistent

So to recap, sleep conditioning is the process of breaking bad sleep habits. This can take anywhere from 72 hours-30 days depending on the plan a parent chooses. All sleep training plans should be developmentally appropriate and take into account the baby’s age, parent’s preferences, overall food/milk intake and other factors also.

In Conclusion, Can The Nightingales Sleep Train Newborns?

Nope. But we can absolutely work on sleep conditioning with them. Our goal is to set them up with the skills and tools they need to never have to be sleep trained down the line.

Karina McCarthy

A Rhode Island native who has babies in her blood. A mom to a beautiful daughter and a lover of yoga and long naps.