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Are you currently struggling with a child who cant or wont sleep? Are you unsure about what to do next? Here are some considerations, which may help you make this decision:

  1. The importance of sleep:

 Sleep is vital for your child and their cognitive and emotional development. Its also important for the rest of your family too. When there is a consistently bad sleeper in the house, the resulting sleep deprivation will most likely take its toll on everyone and you can expect it to impact mood, health, decision-making and eventually, even your relationships. Resolving the issue of sleep one way or another is a matter worth prioritising.

  1. Will my child learn to sleep better on their own?

Its unlikely. Did you know that sleep is a learned skill? It can be learned, unlearned and relearned. Some parents especially with easy going children may unconsciously teach their children to sleep without even realising they are doing it. Other parents may need to teach their children more consciously. All our children have unique personalities which will also impact how quickly or slowly they can learn this skill. You could take a “wait and see approach” or you can teach them to sleep before these habits become to engrained and harder to change later on.

  1. Is there a quick fix solution?

There is unfortunately no “magic wand” or quick fix to get your child sleeping. It will require dedication and consistency from a parent in order to be successful. While some children will respond quicker than others, once the skill is learned or relearned, the positive impact will bare immediate results on the lives of your whole family.

  1. What are your options?

There is a plethora of online info from blogs and websites as well as books to help with this subject and the best thing is that many are free if not very cheap. I have tried several myself including Gina Ford, Baby Sleep Solution and the Baby Sleep Whisperer. They are filled with pages of quality information and fantastic tips. Where they fell short for me however, is that they do usually require a substantial investment of time to read through them – which for a bleary eyed parent can be quite a task.

It’s worth remembering this type of information will be general and assumes a more one-size-fits-all approach. The reality is that all families and every child is different so the hat may not fit. That said, some parents can very successfully sleep train their children using these tools.

Then there is the option of enlisting the help of a sleep consultant. A sleep consultant will work with you to create a unique plan specifically for you, your child and your family. Unlike books and blogs, there are no templated approaches here. It’s based specifically on your child, your family circumstances and dynamics, and what you feel comfortable with as a parent.

A sleep consultant will coach you through the process and be on hand to give you knowledge and confidence to carry out your plan. Depending on the type and level of consultant you work with, they may also be able to offer you phone/video support – a lifeline for some parents really struggling through tough times. Sleep consultants are able to continuously adapt your plan based on how your child is responding and – best of all – a sleep consultant will guide you through the tough bits and celebrate your wins with you.

  1. Will there be crying involved?

Which ever method you choose there is likely to be an element of resistance involved, and at times this may cause a few tears to be shed. Starting any sleep training plan will involve some change and its normal for your child to show some resistance to start. Ensuring a secure attachment between child and parent along with careful reassurance and responses will ensure that this is kept to a minimum, and both child and parent experience little or no real stress at all.

I cannot speak for books and online methods but certainly a consultant will work with you to create an appropriate response (note I say response and not leaving them to cry it out) for your child that enables you to comfort and reassure them as much as you need, but that is also conducive to helping your child sleep better. As parents we are hardwired to our children’s cries so the aim is to be as loving and supportive as possible on the journey to better sleep as this is the best possible outcome for every family.

  1. Is sleep training right for everyone?

In a nutshell – no! Like all aspects of parenting it’s a personal decision a family will need to make based on their needs. For sleep training to be successful a parent needs to be willing to commit to and implement the plan. They also need to trust in what they are being taught and their ability to implement the plan.

From a personal standpoint, I have only ever seen very positive outcomes for those willing to give a sleep consultant a go. Whether they simply took onboard a bit of advice or worked closely with a consultant on a comprehensive plan – the results always speak for themselves. Feeling apprehensive and a little unsure is part and parcel of working with anyone, particularly when it involves the most important and precious people in your life. Most sleep consultants offer a free no-obligation call – leaving you free to digest and consider whether or not this approach is right for you.

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