There are lots of reasons that parents fail at sleep training their children. One of the most often overlooked is timing. If you pick the wrong time to start, you are doomed to failure. You really want to allow yourself about two weeks of time without any major changes in routine to maximize your chance of success. Some examples of when NOT to sleep train:
- Before age 4–6 months of age.
- When your mother-in-law is visiting
- Right before a vacation
- When your child is suffering from a cold/teething/working on another developmental task such as potty training or learning to walk
- Immediately before or after a new sibling is born
- Around the time of a big work deadline
I think of starting sleep training as analogous to quitting smoking. One of the important smokers are counseled to do when planning to quit is selecting a quit date. If you think of sleep training as quitting bad sleep, you want to pick a date for starting for sleep training as well. If you have selected your date for starting sleep training, I would recommend:
- Marking it on your calendar
- Telling family and friends (who are supportive) of your plans
- If you have been unsuccessful in the past, reflect on what worked and what didn’t
- Making a plan in advance of starting using proven strategies for sleep training
If you have any sleep training horror stories, please share them below. Do you think that timing may have been a factor?