Wondering if now is the right time to dive in? Here are the top 10 indicators it’s time to sleep train, from a certified sleep consultant.
I’d like you to read this whole post but here’s a spoiler: it’s time to sleep train when baby and you aren’t getting enough sleep to be healthy.
But since you came here for 10 actual indicators, I’m going to give them to you. Oh yes, yes I am.
I talk to a lot of exhausted moms (and dads) who feel like their current sleep situation with their child really isn’t working. They feel guilty or unsure about the idea of sleep training, but know things can’t go on as they are.
Many parents tell themselves:
- babies are only young once
- it goes by so fast
- you need to “night parent” the same as during the day
- they will just outgrow it, etc.
There is truth to all of this. And the moms I work are always very cognizant of wanting to do whatever is best for their child, even at their own expense.
So, how do you know when it is time to take the plunge?
There is a threshold that is crossed at a certain point. Some might call it a tipping point.
Where no one is happy, physical and mental health are deteriorating, relationships (marital or parent-child) are suffering, and something desperately needs to change.
Here are the top 10 indicators that I look for and notice in parents to whom I simply want to say, “Friend, IT IS TIME to sleep train.”
1. The problem has been going on for more than 2 weeks
Babies are wonderful but exhausting.
Even the best sleeper will keep his parents up for a good chunk of the night at least a handful of times in the first year.
We can’t cure normal.
Disrupted sleep because of illness, traveling, or new developmental milestones is going to happen. But when a problem persists for at least a week or two, it’s time to make some changes. A persistent pattern gives us a chance to really pinpoint what’s going on and come up with the right plan.
Learn how to space naps, how many a day per age, best times, etc. and get your nap game ON!
2. You’ve had sleep-deprived accidents
Sleep deprivation is no joke.
I’ve talked to more than 1 mom whose wake-up call was literally falling down the stairs while holding the baby because of being so sleep deprived.
Another mama was so tired she shattered her whole coffee pot into pieces against the counter top, glass shards everywhere.
And don’t even get me started on the dangers of DUIN – Driving Under the Influence of a Newborn.
Sleep deprived moms are at serious risk for dangerous car accidents. Don’t let it get this bad, mama. But if it already is that bad, it’s time to sleep train. You can make a change today.
3. Babe is cranky during the day/evening and even after naps
A classic sign of an overtired baby is waking up from sleep already cranky and/or being cranky for the hours before bed.
Many people call this the witching hour and think it’s normal.
It is common, but it’s not normal.
A well-rested baby or toddler on the right routine should not be falling apart for hours before bed.
4. You haven’t showered since Lord-knows-when
Ok, Moms, we all know we go through seasons where pampering ourselves isn’t exactly top priority.
But if self-care has gone out the window to the point that you’re not even doing basic things for yourself, it’s time to sleep train.
- eating properly (or even eating at all)
- getting a tiny bit of alone time, (because you’re spending all your time putting the baby to sleep or getting up all night)
- quality time with your spouse
If these are never happening, we have a lot of room for improvement.
Do you forget to sleep, bathe, eat, relax, etc.? NO MORE. This tracker will help you consistently live within your limits so you have more love to give to your family.
5. You feel stuck
You may have tried to make changes to your little one’s sleep patterns but have not seen the success you and your child really need to thrive. Perhaps you don’t know what else to do. If that’s the case then it’s time to reach out for help.
If even one of the above is true for you, we strongly suggest that NOW is the time.
6. You’re not sleeping next to your spouse and/or your relationship is suffering
This is probably one of the most common issues that happens when a couple is sleep deprived- they often aren’t even sleeping in the same bed anymore because of their nightly intruder, and are just barely surviving.
After all, it’s hard to even have common courtesy when you’re extremely sleep deprived, let alone nurture a healthy, thriving marriage.
One wise, older couple once said that “all is forgiven between the hours of 11pm-6am” because those are the hours when you are most prone to say something you regret.
If you find yourself snapping at your spouse and having a short fuse because of your child being up all night, it is time to take steps towards more sleep.
7. You dread bedtime
Or nap time, or early mornings…if your daily routines are marked by battles, crying, stalling, or yelling, it’s time for a change.
These times are meant to be sweet, calm, bonding and nurture-filled. It may take some work to get there, but it will be worth it.
Read These While You’re At It
8. Child has short attention span and trouble focusing
Research has shown over and over how chronic sleep deprivation effects children’s ability to learn, concentrate, form long-term memories, and persevere in the face of challenges.
It’s not overstating it to say that helping your child to learn to get consolidated sleep through the night helps lay the foundation for academic and developmental success later.
A recent review of academic literature on infant sleep concluded that there is “positive association between sleep, memory, language, executive function, and overall cognitive development in typically developing infants and young children.”
Use my simple 4 step routine to help your little ones start sleeping better LIKE TODAY.
It doesn’t take weeks, mama.
9. Your child is over 9 months but still has multiple feeds overnight
Some moms are perfectly happy with continuing to feed their child multiple times over night, even well past the time when the baby may actually need it for physical growth.
If it’s working for everyone and baby really isn’t cranky or overtired during the day (falling asleep on the go, being hyper or “wired”, or fighting naps, are other signs of a sleep deprived child), then you don’t have to change it.
But, usually multiple feeds at this age is a sign of a few things.
- That baby has never learned to self-settle or
- Is not taking enough calories during the day (so may not be getting well-established on solids) and thus
- Is probably not getting the consolidated sleep he really needs.
10. You’re suffering from postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can happen to any mom for a whole host of reasons, or for no reason at all.
But not only can the sleep-deprivation that a newborn brings be a huge contributing factor in developing PPD, it can also prolong it unnecessarily.
A large part of PPD recovery is self-care, and that certainly starts with the most basic of things- sleep.
Give yourself the gift of health and recovery, and your child the gift of their mom at their best.