There are many reasons you may not be ready to start sleep training: Your baby is too young, it’s a chaotic time in your life, you are still unsure on a method to pick, you don’t feel ready or maybe you just don’t currently even want to.
However, if you still want to do something to move in the right direction towards independent sleep, this post is for you! The following technique can be used for a baby or toddler at any age (even a teeny tiny newborn!).
One (small) step at a time
All I want you to do is move one (very small) step closer to having your baby falling asleep independently in the crib (which is what sleep training accomplishes). What does this mean? It looks like this:
- Instead of feeding your baby to sleep, rock your baby to sleep.
- Instead of rocking your baby to sleep, hold your baby to sleep.
- Instead of holding your baby to sleep, settle them in the crib.
What is the purpose in just slightly changing the way your baby falls asleep? What are the benefits of doing this?
- It moves your baby in the right direction towards independent sleep.
- It makes for less of an adjustment if/when you decide to sleep train (it’s a big change to go from feeding-to-sleep in mommy’s arms to having to fall asleep in the crib. However, it’s less of a change to go from holding-to-sleep to falling asleep independently in the crib).
- There is less intense crying as you are still helping your child to sleep. However, crying is still likely because this is a change and no one actually likes change 🙂
- It allows another caregiver to put your child to sleep and share the load. This is especially true for breastfeeding moms!
Expectations & Limitations
It’s important to have realistic expectations about the limitations this technique and realize what this will NOT do for you and your child.
- It will NOT necessarily decrease the time it takes for your child to fall asleep, especially at the beginning (though it may in time).
- It will NOT decrease night wakings as your child will still need you to help put them to sleep as they (naturally) wake throughout the night.
- It is NOT fast. It takes a few weeks of consistency in doing this for your child to get used to the new way of going to sleep.
If doing this is not going to fix bad-sleep in the short term…why even do it then? This is great for parents to try if they know sleep training is in their future, but they (or the baby) just aren’t quite ready yet (for whatever reason). It will most likely make the transition to independent sleep a bit smoother (especially for those babies who are currently fed-to-sleep). I especially love this technique for newborns (even just a couple weeks old!) as they learn so fast and it allows the parents to still support their baby as they fall asleep.
Some parents also really like to have a plan and be working towards something. If this is you and helps your mental health, give it a try!
Who is this NOT for?
If you are miserable, exhausted, barely able to function and desperate for change NOW- this is not a technique for you. A traditional sleep training plan will give you the results you need at a much faster and consistent pace. If this is you and you just can’t wait (which I totally get!), please check out the support I offer. You don’t have to do this alone!
If you try this technique, let me know how it goes for you!