Frequently Asked Questions about Sleep Training

I’’ve noticed some recurring themes in the comments I receive on my blog from desparate and tired parents. Unfortunately, the volume of comments has increased to the point where I can’t provide detailed answers any more. Here are answers to the the most frequently asked questions about sleep training.

We sleep trained and my child was sleeping great for X months. Then he started teething/got a cold/took a trip with us and now he’s sleeping badly again.

If you successfully sleep trained in the past, try what worked for you before. It will usually work more quickly than the first time. You can try other methods as well, which may also work or be a better fit for you.

We bedshared with our child and now we can’t get her to sleep on her own.

I’ve heard this story frequently in my career. I have a whole article on how to stop cosleeping.

I’ve been trying to sleep train for X number of days , and my child is still crying for X minutes.

Sleep training can take time. Are you reinforcing the crying? Are you going in for prolonged checks or picking your child (if you are trying “cry it out”). Are you being inconsistent in the timing or the steps of bedtime, If you’ve tried for a week or so, and you feel like you are not making any progress, I would stop and take a time out for a month, and revisit your sleep training plan.

I put my child to bed at W time and they wake up at X time, and nap from Y to Z. What should I do about bedtime/nightwakings/early morning awakenings?

I appreciate that you put a lot of detail into your post, but it’s pretty hard for me to make personalized recommendations about the timing of sleep and wake for you. I bet that your pediatrician (or your friendly neighborhood sleep doctor) can take this information and really help you out. It would also be worth tallying up how many hours of sleep your child gets in a 24 period and see how it compares to the amount of sleep recommended for children by the National Sleep Foundation.

My child falls asleep without difficulty, but wakes up during the night.

There are a couple of possibilites.
1. A medical cause for nocturnal awakening
2. Sleep onset associations, although it seems less likely if your child is falling asleep on her own. Is there something present at bedtime that is absent at waking up, (like a pacifier in her mouth).
3. Too much time in bed. Some kids need less sleep than others and if your child needs less sleep than they have time in bed, you will have problems.
4. Feeding at night is associated with persistent nocturnal awakenings. Here’s what to do about them.
For more information, I have an article on night wakings here.

My child wakes up too early in the morning.

I had this problem too. Here’s an article on what to do about the dreaded early morning awakenings.

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