Wondering if sleep training during the holidays is a good idea?
For many, this is a season of happiness and hope, but if you’ve got a baby who’s up every hour or two, you’re probably not in a very festive mood…which is why a lot of families think about starting sleep training this time of year!
Whenever I talk to parents between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, I’ll inevitably have the conversation about this being a good time to start or not.
Take a look at the pro’s and con’s that I’ve found to be true when sleep training in December!
I’ll start with the CON’S because there’s really only two:
#1 You won’t have the freedom to get out of the house and go shopping or meet a friend with her baby for lunch whenever you want or go to holiday parties every other night unless you have a regular sitter that your baby is VERY familiar with and who is very reliable and is able to follow specific directions.
When you start sleep training, you really want to make this a priority so your child can learn faster and the process will be easier for everyone. You and your partner really want to be the go-to people for sleep training, with one of you there every day for the first 7-10 days minimum. On-the-go naps aren’t ideal, as is a new sitter or sleeping at a family member’s house for the first time.
Trust me…when you really follow a consistent plan that takes into consideration your baby’s temperament, age and your parenting style, things can move really fast and your baby can start mastering these new skills quickly!
#2 You can’t do sleep training while traveling so if you have plans to visit family out-of-state (or even a few days of longer drives for family get-togethers), it’s best to wait until the travel is over.
The ideal time to sleep train is when you have at least two weeks of “normal” to really make these new skills stick. (I always suggest no travel within three weeks of starting as travel often brings germs and you don’t want to add a cold to the mix if you can help it!)
Sleep training is an investment of time and money and you want it to work as well and quickly as possible! When families do sleep training too close before a trip or are consistent during sleep training, they usually need a reboot when they get home. Why would you want to do it twice if you don’t have to?
If you are willing to temporarily sacrifice your ability to make your own schedule and you aren’t traveling this month, then sleep training this time of year may just be the perfect time for your family:
#1 The Christmas season is the ONE time of year that pretty much everyone is able to take a few days in a row off from work. This is a big one, because a) I typically suggest starting on a long weekend (4+ nights is ideal) if you’re both working and b) it frees up both you AND your spouse to be able to fully participate in the process…and you can take turns being “on” for nightwakings because no one has to get up early for work!
#2 When you start sleep training in the first half of the month, you’ll have a much better sleeper by the holidays – which means you’ll enjoy that special time with family more!
#3 You usually have a lot of friends and family around this time of year…and they can help you out! If a family member is staying with you for a couple of days, you can ask her to take the baby out for a walk while you grab a nap during the day. (This scenario can also be a CON if you’ll be playing tourist with visiting friends and family and your baby will be napping on the go.)
#4 Many companies are slower in between Christmas and New Year’s which is a perfect time to sleep train. Holiday parties have ended and you (and/or your partner) may have time off, flexibility to work from home or have fewer meetings/deadlines this week. And if you’ve got a baby, you’re probably not headed out for a crazy NYE party…so this can be one of the best times to start all year! PLUS you’ll get a jump start on your New Year’s Resolution of getting everyone more sleep!
And since this is also a season of gift giving – and “experience” gifts are always popular! – I’ve had several families ask for sleep training for their holiday gift, either a donation towards a sleep consultant or as the present from grandparents for the baby’s first Christmas, because they really don’t need much at this age besides some bedtime stories and a few teethings toys! The gift of sleep really is the best gift you can get!
Once you make your own PRO/CON list, you’ll be able to see if it’s a good time for YOUR family to start!
Then you need to decide your strategy – are you going to make your own plan or hire a consultant?
That’s something you’ll need to decide!
When you work with a consultant, you’ll minimize the time it takes to sleep train because you’re starting with the right plan from the beginning – you don’t need to try several things first with all of the information you’ve gathered from books and friends and try to make a coherent plan that might work for your baby. I specialize in the smart, stubborn and clever babies, so even if you tried just about everything – and nothing has worked! – we can fix those behavioral sleep issues once and for all!
Here’s an example of one of those smart and stubborn babies: I recently worked with a 7 month old baby who slept 12 hours on Night 3 after being up every 1-2 hours prior to sleep training. Her parents used seven (7!?) sleep props prior including a rock n play, pacifier and feeding and rocking to sleep) so this little girl started with zero independent sleep skills. Those parents are now ecstatic and will be able to really enjoy the holidays even more this year with their (very well-rested) baby!
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Photo Credit: Deposit Photos | grinvalds