The Benefits of Sleep Training





By Lyz Lenz

Even before my daughter was born, my husband and I decided we would be sleep training. Sleep training is a ubiquitous term that encompasses many methods of what boils down to getting your baby to sleep through the night—that Shangri-La of parenthood that every one seeks but few find.

We read the books, the articles and discussed our plan with our doctor and when our daughter was six weeks old our plan kicked into action. She was initially a terrible sleeper; even the nurses at the hospital were concerned with how she tossed and turned and woke up at the slightest bit of noise.  During those first six weeks, most of the sleep she got was in my arms nursing.  So, when we got the all-clear from our doctor, I was ready.

We kept her on a strict schedule during the day and at night we began by using dream feeding—a method that involved feeding her while she was sleeping.  And if she woke during the night, I limited the amount of food she ate, until she was used to going back to sleep without feeding. After three weeks, she was consistently sleeping through the night.  The nap schedule was a little harder to establish. Ultimately, I had to set a timer for 10 minutes and only check on her after the time had passed. Usually, she was asleep after the first five minutes with only minimal fussing. And as she’s gotten older, her sleep rhythms have changed, but we always go back to these methods to reestablish our routine.

Establishing a sleep routine for your baby is a deeply personal issue and is often an emotional minefield for new parents. Ultimately, it’s up to each parent to decide what is best for them and their child. All babies and all families are different and while we don’t subscribe to the “one method fits all” approach to parenting, my husband and I decided that we would be sleep training our children for the following reasons:

1. We love our child, but she’s not the center of the universe.  We hope to have more kids and soon, and we want to establish early on that although we love our daughter, she’s not in charge in our household, we are.

2. Good habits are important.  Sleep is essential to everyone, especially growing kids and lack of sleep has been linked to developmental delays and even obesity in children and we want her to know that and learn early the importance of going to bed and getting rest.

3. Our bed is our bed. My husband and I do a lot of our daily unwinding in bed. That’s where we talk, discuss, joke and enjoy one another’s company before falling asleep. We need that time to stay connected and model good relationships. 

4. Mom needs a break. Of course, part of becoming a parent is self-sacrifice, but when your sanity starts to go, that’s not good for you or your kids.  Giving my daughter a regular schedule keeps her happy and me sane and it’s when I get to do all those selfish activities like wipe puke off the floor, wash diapers, unstick food from the high chair and make dinner.
While sleep training isn’t for everyone, we will definitely be using the same methods with number two, should he or she ever decide to join us. But until then, mama needs a nap.

While sleep training isn’t for everyone, we will definitely be using the same methods with number two, should he or she ever decide to join us. But until then, mama needs a nap.

What kind of sleep training do you use?


About the Author:
Lyz Lenz is a writer, a mom and a midwesterner. Although, not in that order. She lives in Iowa and on the web at LyzLenz.com