I think as parents and caregivers, we need this reminder: You do not have to hit rock bottom before you get help. It’s time to sleep train, now.
If you feel any tinge of thinking you need some help with fitness or finances or some help keeping the house clean, or you’re thinking, “I think I need some help with childcare,” “I think I need some help because my child doesn’t sleep…” For some reason in our culture, we wait literally until we are at rock bottom, and we’re desperate. And I need you to know that you don’t have to do that!! You don’t have to live your life waiting to hit the absolute worst part before you seek help.
In fact, I would argue that this is a time to enjoy your child, enjoy your family, you only get this time in this moment once! Some people use that as an argument to say, “Yeah, you only get to hold your baby and rock them once, babies don’t keep, so just keep rocking them to sleep!” But I’m telling you, if you’re following that, but everything’s falling apart in your life – you can’t focus at your job, you aren’t hungry anymore because you’re losing your appetite and so your health is suffering, if the relationships around you are crumbling because you’re so tired, you can’t physically function or even make time and space for conversation – then you don’t have to wait to get help with this.
This is something that you can get help with NOW – you can enjoy being a parent and you can find joy in your child and in this season!! I’m saying all of this because today we’re going back to the archives to an episode that is so close to my heart, because we need this reminder. We need the reminder that you do not have to wait to hit rock bottom before you seek help.
I polled my audience on Instagram and asked what it was for them that was the final straw of saying, “I need help making sleep a thing” and this episode goes through the main reasons (there were 21 reasons overall but a lot of them overlapped!!) that people decided to sleep train.
So, if you are finding yourself in a position where you’re thinking it’s not that bad, then I hope that you find some encouragement from this from the vault episode. We have shared so many episodes in the last five plus years of this podcast. And this is one of my favorites, so I wanted to bring this to you today. Let’s talk about what finally caused these families to get help with their sleep!!
I want to begin and open up with how I knew it was time to sleep train. We had a bassinet, but I wasn’t using it because I didn’t know what sleep for my newborn should look like. So one night I woke up with a newborn under my covers and that was the red alarm where this could not happen again. And I sat down and Googled: How do you get your baby to sleep? And that launched me into understanding that sleep consultants exist and I can do this. So for me, that’s how I knew it was time… because something dangerous, almost deadly, happened. I don’t ever want people to hit that point.
You know how I feel about sleep training. I get frustrated when people say the training word is just so harsh. Can we just talk about this for a second? Why are we okay with calling it potty training? We don’t call it potty teaching. But for some reason when it comes to sleep, people get all flustered and they don’t feel very good when you say sleep training, so they say sleep teaching or sleep shaping. We don’t say potty shaping, we say potty training. They’re just skills that we teach our children.
What’s really sad is that we think we have to wait to hit rock bottom on sleep before sleep training, but with other skills like potty training, that’s something that we just know we have to do. So we come to grips with it not happening on its own. It’s a skill we have to teach our child. But so is sleep. It’s a skill.
You don’t hit the point where you are massively obese before you start making changes in your diet to be healthy and make changes. But yet sleep training is this area of life where we wait until everything is in complete shambles and then we decide to get help. It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to compare to someone who has it worse or even live on a few hours of broken sleep that feels manageable.
I do want to add a few caveats here before I get into the reasons that others share that you will probably resonate with.
It is not time to sleep train if you are not mentally stable and mentally ready OR if you don’t have anyone around you in your home who could support you.
It breaks my heart to hear about families who have maybe grandparents living with them, or maybe even their partner is staunchly against sleep training. But one of the partners says they want to do this and they have a lot of resistance and sabotage happening because they don’t agree. That’s a really rocky place to be. So I would suggest if not everybody in your house is on board, don’t do it. Just wait.
It’s also not time to sleep train if you are stressed or anxious. If adding sleep training on top of everything else going on is just the brick that will cause everything to crumble, don’t do it.
So let’s dive into the reasons my Instagram audience gave for why they knew it was time to sleep train.
This is the #1 reason that I always hear. When I used to do phone calls with people in my early years as a sleep consultant, I would write this down and circle it, because everybody said this: “I’m just at my wit’s end.” When I asked what they’d like to see change, there was a long pause, because they didn’t know that things could be different. They felt silly saying they’d like for them to sleep all night and often just said they’d be happy with 5-6 hours. I want more for you!! So if you’re feeling at wit’s end, it’s time.
With the exception of newborns, if your baby is 6+ months old and you’re having more and more night feedings that you know your baby doesn’t need and the pediatrician says they don’t need, this is a good time to sleep train. They need to see food for nourishment and not sleep so they can get what they need during the day and not eat micro meals all night long!
I love this one. I get a lot of toddlers in our toddler sleep coaching program because a baby’s coming, a sibling is coming, and we need to get one kid settled before the other kid comes. I hear that a lot.
Specifically props that were not age appropriate. These are things like the pacifier, Dockatot, even things that have been banned as sleep aids like the Rock ‘n’ Play.
I’ve been told so many times, “Becca, you are way cheaper than a marriage counselor!” I am not a licensed counselor, but I do believe that when you can depend on your little one going to bed and sleeping all night long so that you have the evening to sleep in bed with your partner, it’s the best. Not sleeping in the same room puts a huge strain on the #1 relationship that you need to keep healthy and strong for your children.
In case you didn’t know, sleep deprivation severely impacts your body’s immune system, which is really important. When you’re not sleeping, it deteriorates your entire body’s health.
Some parents said they never wanted to co-sleep or bed share. But suddenly they’re wondering: Why is my baby in my bed? Or why is my 3 year old in my bed? They have their own beautiful nursery right down the hall. They have their own room that I bought at Pottery Barn. Let’s get your child in their crib, or in their room, all night long.
Whoa, does that resonate with you? Do you find yourself actually spending more time throughout the day and night getting your baby to sleep? (If you’ve never thought about that, maybe you should start tracking!)
Other parents said that they realized it was time to sleep train when their 4 month old went from sleeping great long stretches (6-8 hours) to waking every 90 minutes. I hear parents a lot of times ask if they can sleep train in the middle of a regression and yes, you can. The 4 month regression or any other future regression has nothing to do with your sleep training success. In fact, it’s going to help. The 4 month regression is simply your baby developing mature sleep cycles, and you can help them learn how to sleep well by sleep training them.
Many parents feel like they’re in a hamster wheel of spending hours and hours and hours getting their child to sleep with hardly any return and any sleep themselves, or for the child at all.
This is a real thing. I absolutely know people who hired me to work one on one because they said, “Becca, when I get home from work, it should be a happy time to reunite with my child. But I am so stressed out because I don’t know what’s going to happen next.” They want to enjoy their kid, they want to enjoy being a parent, but they literally can’t. They want to go back to work, bedtime looms like a dark stormy cloud, and the anxiety at bedtime is too thick you can’t get out of it. You know it’s time to make change because you’re in that position.
Other people said very similarly that they knew it was time to sleep train because they were not enjoying being a parent. In fact, I’ve heard people say that they didn’t want to say this out loud, but they didn’t like their kids, and they doubted why they even had a child. And that is so extreme. But I’m just gonna blanket-statement say you’re probably not listening to this podcast if you have never experienced any of these things before.
So I’m just going to assume that all of us here, listening together holding virtual hands, know this feeling. And it’s okay to say this out loud that you may not like being a parent right now, you may not even like your child right now, because of how exhausting it is. It’s not your fault. It’s not your child’s fault. As my mom has said, “We are here to equip our children to be independent members of society.” It starts right now… by teaching them a basic life skill: how to sleep.
Kate Morse, who is my right hand girl and COO here at Little Z’s said she wanted to confidently be able to put her baby to bed and know that she would sleep through the night without constant night wakings. And she wanted the same for naps. Kate wanted to have her own space and her own time just for Kate. She wanted her quiet sleep space back, she wanted to be able to spend time with her husband, Jake and she wanted to be able to refill her bucket so she had more to give to her daughter the next day.
That is when you know it is time to sleep train!! You don’t have to hit rock bottom, you could literally just want those things!! You could maybe just not have that bad of a sleeper BUT you want to be able to put your baby to bed confidently knowing that they’re going to sleep all night long. You want to confidently know you can put your little one in the crib or bed for nap and know they’re going to sleep. You want to know that you can have evening time, to have you time to do whatever you want to do.
And that, in my opinion, is an ideal time to sleep train!!
If you’re reading this like, “Yes, Becca, I do want to sleep train, I resonate with so many of these reasons”, we have lots of options for you!! From laying the foundation of sleep as a newborn to training up to age 5, we’ve got sleep programs that will help you make sleep a thing for your family.
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