Respectful sleep training to help your little one sleep better, so you can get more rest too.

Respectful sleep training | Image shows a sleeping baby sucking their fingers.

What is Respectful Sleep Training?

For me, respectful sleep training means keeping the focus of the exercise on everybody’s welfare, as opposed to a very strict and specific outcome. It means that the goal is to improve everybody’s  wellbeing, rather than to get your baby to achieve an arbitrary number of hours sleep without waking.

I understand (I really do!) that lack of sleep is torturous. And for some parents their need for uninterrupted sleep outweighs everything else. I don’t judge those parents, but before we go further; if that’s you then this post may not be what you’re looking for.

I far prefer to consider the big picture and how things can be made easier for the whole family, without resorting to making anybody suffer for the sake of another. 

Read these new baby sleep deprivation tips to help the whole family get more rest.

Should You Consider Implementing Respectful Sleep Training?

If you’ve read any of my other posts about baby sleep, you may already be aware that my ethos leans heavily towards the fact that we shouldn’t necessarily be trying to push too hard to make our babies sleep better. 

Gentle sleep training | Image shows a sleeping baby

Before I alienate all of my readers, bear with me, and let me qualify that…

If things are not working, then I absolutely advocate trying to find a solution that works for the whole family. But first it’s important to ask yourself the following question:

Is there actually a problem, or are other people insisting there is one?

Whatever your baby’s sleep pattern looks like, if you’re coping and happy with the situation, then there’s no problem and nothing needs fixing.

Of course it does often reach the point where a lack of sleep begins to take its toll, and you will feel ready to make a change. 

Breastfeeding and Sleep Training – What Can You Change to Help Your Baby?

An issue that crops up with sleep training which is specific to breastfeeding is if you’re nursing on demand. Responsive feeding is recommended by the NHS for the best possible breastfeeding outcomes, and essentially clashes with any kind of sleep training. While this can begin to change as your baby grows older, at which point feeding on demand is not so vital, I still favour other more gentle solutions where possible.

With that in mind, if you notice your baby is regularly fighting sleep, there could be a number of things going on which you may be able to positively influence through a change in routine. Before you jump straight to deciding you need to sleep train your infant, it’s worth considering whether any of these apply and whether you may be able to fix them.

I’ve written a guide to what issues may be impacting your baby’s sleep and how they can be resolved, plus I share my easy sleep solution for coping in the meantime.

If you try all of these suggestions and find nothing helps, you may decide to consider some form of gentle sleep training.

Breastfeeding and sleep training pin.

Gentle Sleep Training Alternatives to Controlled Crying

The are different types of sleep training, probably the most common form being controlled crying. 

If you’re at a point of considering employing a sleep training method, you may like to read more about each technique you can try to encourage your baby to sleep through the night, including:

  • Controlled crying
  • Cry it Out
  • Extinction method
  • Graduated extinction
  • Ferber technique
  • Controlled timed crying technique
  • Gentle sleep solutions

I’ve written a post covering the above, as well as gentle options you may prefer to try as an alternative approach. The post includes the pros, cons, and science behind sleep training. 

Read my post about sleep training and alternatives to controlled crying.

Jo Frost on Sleep Training

Several years ago I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to Jo Frost about sleep training, and I asked her to defend controlled crying.

I was intrigued to hear her take on how it can affect babies, and why she believes that it’s a safe approach which is not harmful.

Read my questions to Jo and her responses about the supernanny sleep training she advocates.

Gentle Night Weaning

Before you decide to officially sleep train your baby, one other option is to consider night weaning. This can be quite a difficult undertaking, but I’ve written all about we successfully managed to do this with our eldest daughter.

Read my post about gently weaning a resistant toddler.
Mother breastfeeding her baby in a dark nursery.

Can Any Products Help Your Baby to Sleep Better?

Once you’ve made the decision to begin some kind of sleep training with your baby, even if it’s night simply night weaning, the hope is that they’ll respond positively and start sleeping better.

All being well, over time this is exactly what will happen. At which point you’ll want to build on that and continue to support them to sleep well. 

One of the best ways to do this is by keeping their bedroom dark at night, and discouraging them from getting up too early in the mornings, even if they stir. Fortunately there are some products which may help.

Read my reviews about the Gro clock and Gro Anywhere blinds to see whether they may benefit your family.

Recommended reading: more products to help your baby sleep better.

Keep in mind that baby’s sleep patterns change frequently, for many reasons. Your situation could be very different next month, and that’s true whether you implement sleep training or not.

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is a huge advocate of personal growth, focusing on journaling to increase positivity and facilitate mindful motherhood. With a wealth of experience in breastfeeding and CMPA, Kate is also an expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.

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