You worked with a sleep consultant or tried some sleep training books on your own, and are making great progress but…
Grandma will hold the baby for all naps? And now baby expects you to hold him too?!
Your spouse will get up in the middle of the night and immediately rock your child back to sleep (or worse – just tells you to go in and make him be quiet!)
Daycare isn’t paying attention to the schedule you’re offering and baby is coming home overtired!?
If your caregiver or spouse is thwarting your efforts in the sleep department, there are definitely some things you can do to help everyone understand how important sleep is for your child and how their action may be hindering the process!
If someone caring for your child is:
- letting him/her get drowsy or fall asleep with a sleep prop (ie bottle or rocking)
- not sticking to the nap schedule
- stirring up the pot right before sleep (ie dad comes home 5 minutes before bedtime and want to wrestle or play tag in the basement!)
…then here are 4 tips to help those people understand where you’re coming from and help improve the situation:
1. Explain why this is such a high priority!
If baby isn’t developing good sleep skills early on, chances are it won’t just “happen” one day (Pediatrics, 2012). If a caregiver says it’s just a phase and they’ll outgrow these crazy sleep habits, gently explain that that isn’t likely to happen.
And while your child isn’t getting good consolidated sleep EVERYTHING is affected – health and immune system, learning, behavior, mood…
And don’t forget the effects on you as parents! Moms and dads who aren’t getting enough sleep have a harder time being productive and creative at work, make careless mistakes, get sick more often and have increased risk for certain health issues, including weight gain.
2. Explain how much you’ve invested in this!
Chances are, you’ve spent time (reading books, taking time off from work, for-going social events to ensure your child sticks to a great schedule in the early days of training…) and money (on expert sleep advice – consultant, classes and/or books…) on sleep training.
If you put an actual number to that investment, your spouse is more likely to take things seriously. How much was the check you wrote to your sleep consultant? Show him the receipt from Amazon for those sleep training books you bought. As for the time aspect, you’ll likely need to reboot your efforts, and if you’ve devoted 2-3 weeks to this, restarting once (or more!) is a significant amount of time!
On the flip side, don’t forget to mention the BENEFITS – how much more time and money you’ll have once your child is sleeping well! (No more night nannies, it’ll be much easier to leave baby with a sitter so you can have date night, you’ll be able to cuddle on the sofa and watch a movie in the evening after everyone’s snug in bed…)
3. Be crystal clear
Have you explained exactly what needs to happen in regards to your child’s sleep? It may be that your caregiver either didn’t understand the first (and only) time you explained what you expect them to do or thinks it isn’t important anymore.
Make sure to explain very clearly how you need your child to fall asleep, what timing they should be using for nap and bedtime start times and the order of the nap and bedtime routines. Even better, write it all down! And then ask what questions they have and what might be standing in the way of their following your plan.
Most caregivers with a clear plan of action will follow it. If your daycare gives you a stink about it, you have a couple of options that I talk about in a recent post about improving nap at daycare.
4. What does it mean to you? And what will it mean for them?
In a quiet moment when you aren’t about to blow a gasket because you came home AGAIN to your baby asleep on your caregiver’s shoulder or arrived to pick up baby at daycare to find him sleeping too close to bedtime, tell them how their cooperation would mean the world to you. Calmly.
They need to know that those “little” things they’re doing during the day is making night time miserable for you. Your nanny or daycare providers may not realize just how bad things are after you bring baby home.
And it’s always a good idea to remind your caregiver that a baby with great sleep skills makes THEIR job easier!
If your spouse is dragging his feet, tell him how this is one of the hardest thing you’ll do as a parent and if he isn’t going to be an active participant in the process, at least don’t make it worse!
I know of one mom that was so sleep deprived that she took Sundays to nap and relax because of the extreme exhaustion she felt from being up all night with the baby. So on Sundays, dad was in charge of baby all day. During football. She wisely explained that if they get baby sleeping through the night, he gets his Sundays back to watch football sans crabby baby. That was just thing to get him on board!
Hopefully one of these tips will resonate with the person who is giving you a hard time about sleep training your child. The good news is that at some point, every parent reaches their limit with the exhaustion and frustration that a non-sleeping baby creates. But I hope for your sake it’s sooner than later that they realize this sleep problem can be fixed!
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