As a sleep consultant I work with all different types of families. One thing I have noticed to be true, is that those families that have both parents working as a team have far greater success when it comes to teaching their children to sleep independently.
It’s pretty typical that one parent will be the initiator. This is usually the parent that is up all night with their child. This parent is exhausted and is better able to see what a negative impact poor sleep has on the entire family. The spouse often sleeps through the night and says things like, “it’s normal for babies to be up all night,” not really providing much support to the parent that is struggling.
More often than not, one parent will reach a breaking point. If the other parent can see that their spouse is struggling, and decide to jump on board to support their spouse and child through the sleep training process, the likelihood of success skyrockets. Here are a few tips that I often share with parents so that they can have the greatest chance of success.
1. Come to an agreement regarding strategy. If one parent wants to implement the ferber method, and the other parent feels more comfortable with shhh/pat, then there will he lots of arguing at 3am when the baby is crying and the parents can’t agree on how to respond. When it comes to sleep training, there are lots of ways to approach it, but consistency is key.
2. Both parents should be equally well versed in the plan. If you’re following the instructions from a blog post, a book, or a sleep consultant, it’s important that everyone involved has a handle on the process. If one parent is acting as the expert, and the other is just along for the ride, that can certainly lead to problems down the road.
3. Know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Some parents find the sleep training process to be pretty anxiety provoking. Others can easily see that sleep training is something that you do for your child rather than to your child. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, acknowledge where you are so that you and your partner can support each other during the process. One parent may feel more comfortable implementing the plan, while the other is more comfortable removing themselves from the situation. It’s important for parents to support each other through the process so that everyone can comfortably achieve the common goal of teaching independent sleep.
For those single parents reading this post, know that you are not alone! Consider the value of enlisting someone to support you during sleep training. This person could be a trusted friend or a professional, but don’t underestimate the value of accountability and support. Having someone to report to every day, or even to vent to after bedtime at night, is incredibly valuable – so set yourself up for success!