Why Sleep Training does not equal Cry it Out (CIO)
There is a common misconception that Sleep Training equals leaving your baby alone to Cry it Out (CIO) and for whatever reason the CIO strategy is so closely linked to Sleep Training that they are synonymous with one another. Nothing is further from the truth. I would wager that if you employed CIO it was really hard on you and your baby and you possibly have vowed never to use it again. I don’t blame you, it can be hard to allow your child the space to soothe on their own and the right time to do it, that is where the support of a Sleep Consultant is invaluable. In this blog post I will define my feelings on the technique and why Sleep Training does not equal CIO.
What is CIO? Well it can be worded a few different ways and the way that it is worded really conveys two totally different meanings. 1. Leaving your baby alone to Cry It Out until they are asleep. 2. Allowing your child the space necessary to self-settle themselves, fostering their independent settling ability and teaching them a valuable life skill, which is how to fall asleep independently. These two statements have totally different meanings and on their own they could sway your opinion either way, just by reading one sentence.
I will be honest and say that the technique makes me a bit uncomfortable, I have not had to utilise it with a client yet, although I am only new to this role, I don’t think I ever will because there are so many other things to consider and several techniques to utilise before you get to this point.
When deciding on a settling technique it is utterly important to take into account so many factors, including but not limited to, the child’s temperament, their current sleep struggles, the family situation, if they have siblings and how a child responds to certain settling techniques that may have been attempted before. I have several different settling techniques that I utilise from gentle to more traditional methods and each time I have to slightly tweak it to suit all of these factors. All children as well as all families are different and that is why each strategy needs to be specifically catered to suit. Before deciding on a technique, I have a discussion with the parents about what they are comfortable with, what they think their child will respond to best. Only after this has been discussed can a technique to decided upon.
There is no point choosing an in-room technique with a child that is over-stimulated by parental presence, as this will just stall the process. Conversely I would never recommend an out of room strategy to someone who wants to move on from co-sleeping as the child generally does not adjust well at all. When choosing a settling technique there is so much to consider and a lot of knowledge needs to be applied in deciding what technique is right for each family.
The other reason (and most important of all) is the necessity for a holistic strategy for healthy sleep and without taking this into consideration the actual sleep training technique will not be as successful.
A holistic strategy includes taking into account factors such as the child’s biological age, their sleep environment, sleep associations, feeding, milk intake, nutrition for healthy sleep, a routine to support a child’s Circadian Rhythm, great daytime naps, combating overtired-ness and the constant support of a sleep consultant to see the plan through.
I have had several clients already who after simply working on a great daytime strategy, full of positive holistic elements, observed their children begin to organically sleep through on their own. Yes, you read that right, after formulating a plan suited to all these elements and just focusing on nailing a daytime strategy, I have had many babies sleep through without the need to implement a structured sleep training technique AT ALL!
So how do we get to that point? In these instances I first assess the current situation, see where any improvements can possibly be made to be conducive of healthy sleep, I then formulate a plan and work with the parents to implement it. In these cases my client and I have just focused on the daytime strategy first, such as nailing some great daytime naps to combat overtired-ness, or getting the milk/solids balance right and once we started to see some positive change, their babies started to sleep through the night organically. When breaking down the goals and just working on a daytime strategy first, I also advised the client/s to keep the current night time strategy (often with 2-3 feeds overnight) until we started to see some results from the daily routine. Once this started to happen we saw organic sleeping through anywhere from day 3 to day 10 of the plan. This was with both breastfed and bottle fed babies ranging from 6 months to 3 years old and by sleep through I mean from 6:30pm to 4am or some babies even 7am!
And that Mums and Dad’s is why Sleep training does not equal Cry it Out. My Sleep Training philosophy is all about giving parents the right tools, knowledge and education to encourage healthy sleep which then supports the appropriate sleep training technique.
For anyone considering if now is the right time for you to engage with a sleep consultant you can be confident in the knowledge that I do not recommend the CIO technique. I think if you had to resort to this strategy then there could be some other factors at play that have gone unnoticed. Instead of CIO I focus on a holistic guide to healthy sleep habits and provide you with a fantastic strategy that fully supports the bigger picture, rather than solely focusing on the sleep training technique itself.
Of course there is a necessity to use a sleep training technique and for most babies it is needed, but I assure you that I always take an approach that fully supports the needs of you and your child. If we need to use a technique it simply means that your child needs some extra support and guidance to help them on their way. I will never tell you to do something you are not comfortable with and I won’t suggest something that will not suit your child. I will take into account your entire situation and recommend the right approach to ensure you and your child are fully supported which will get you on track to restful, restorative, healthy sleep.
If you are considering engaging with a sleep consultant you can be comfortable in the knowledge that I fully support both children and their parents with the right knowledge, tools and education to guide them to achieve healthy sleep habits.
If you would like to chat more about Sleep Training or decide if now is the right time for you and your child, contact me for a complementary 15 minute consultation. We can discuss your child's current sleep struggles, how I can help and which package would be best suited to you. Go to the contact page on my website and fill out the form to email me with you questions.
I will continue to post my philosophies, sleep tips and research articles on all things Infant + child Sleep. To be notified of my next blog post, make sure you sign up to receive an email notification.
Certified Infant + Child Sleep Consultant
Baby Slumberland Co.