Sleep can be one of the trickiest things to manage as a parent. While some kids have no trouble snoozing through the night from infancy on, most kids present parents with challenges that are hard to navigate. Sleep training is the critical step of helping to train your child to fall and stay asleep on their own, but many parents aren't sure how to approach it. At 5 Little Monkeys, we strive to be a resource to help your little one get healthy sleep, so we'd like to provide a little more information on how and why sleep training works.
Sleep Training 101
Considering sleep is such a basic, primary function, it seems like kids should be born knowing how to do it. And they are – but getting them to sleep through the night, in their own bed, while minimizing crying and wake-ups, is another story.
That's where sleep training comes in. Sleep training refers to the practice of changing how you respond to your child's behavior in order to help them learn to go to sleep on their own. It sounds easy, but in practice, it can be difficult to follow through on.
The conventional approach to sleep training is called unmodified extinction, also known as the "cry it out" approach. This method involves letting your child cry during the night without going into their room to comfort them, the idea being that by not reinforcing crying with attention, you'll help your child learn to sleep without crying or a parent in the room.
However, the cry it out approach is often unbearable for parents in practice. That's why many experts now recommend an approach called graduated extinction. In this method, you don't leave your child entirely alone for the night, but rather follow certain rules about when you go check on them. There are many variants, with some versions use a rigid schedule to determine when you check up on your child while others involve gradually reducing the attention your child gets while sleeping. But across all the methods, graduated extinction is about giving your child some attention during sleep, but using that attention to train them to fall asleep on their own.
Get the Best Kid's Mattress
Sleep training can be incredibly difficult for a parent to follow through on, as it often involves resisting the urge to comfort your baby even while they're screaming for your attention. But it's an important part of the parenting process, and good sleep training can pay off in years of healthy sleep habits. That said, a low-quality mattress can undermine even the best sleep training methods, so if your child's bed is questionable, it might be time for an upgrade. See the difference that the right kids bedding can make on your child's sleep: try our children's mattress today!