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How Much Crying is Involved with Sleep Training?

First off, I am just going to say I HATE CRYING! As a mom to 3 little ones born 17 months apart (twin girls followed by a singleton son), it is safe to say that there was and still is a decent amount of crying happening in my household. Luckily, that crying is NOT surrounding any sort of pain or serious issue. I understand that small children are allowed to have big emotions. This morning, I gave my 3-year-old the wrong color bowl and you would have thought the world was officially ending. Toddler parents, I see you.


Thankfully, I’ve learned how to cope with hearing lots of crying and whining throughout the day as mom. However, no matter how experienced of a parent I become, crying is and always will be very triggering for me. I am always doing everything in my power to mitigate crying in my household!


OK, I am glad I got that off my chest! Now, onto the subject of this article – How much crying is involved with sleep training?  If you are thinking about sleep training your child, this question may have crossed your mind.

Is there such a thing as too much crying?  What is the typical amount of crying to expect? And can crying be avoided during the sleep training process?

 

Crying Related to Sleep Training Methods


Before diving into crying itself, we first need to address the different types of sleep training methods. I want you to imagine a spectrum and on one end is the “gentle/no cry sleep training method” and on the other end is the “cry it out” method also known as “extinction”. These are the two extremes seen in the sleep training world. DISCLAIMER – we don’t use “cry it out/extinction” at Tweet Dreamzz Sleep Consulting. More on that later.


The “gentle/no cry” method could take months or even years to fully work and get your child to a place of independent sleep, whereas the “cry it out” method could take just a few nights. The problem that I have with both methods is that there is no plan attached to them. These are mere statements that imply no crying at all with the gentle method and tons of crying with the cry it out method. These “methods” are very gray and subjective.


Sleep training is much more than crying vs. not crying. At Tweet Dreamzz we always like to tell parents that we are NOT in the crying business – we are in the SLEEP business. Our main goal is always to get your child (and you!) the appropriate amount of sleep with the least amount of crying possible!

 

How Much Crying is Really Involved in Sleep Training?


Inevitably when it comes to making changes with your child, guess what happens? Your child protests! Why? Because change is HARD for all of us, including children.  When it comes to change, the easiest and most appropriate way for your child to protest is by crying ☹


If you have decided to or are thinking about sleep training your child or twins you should know that there will be some crying. I will not sugarcoat that fact.


You should always expect night one to be the hardest, but you know the great thing about following a sleep training plan vs. just a method such as “cry method” vs. “no cry” is?  By nights two, three and four you should be seeing NOTICEABLE improvement! Seriously! Within just a few nights of being consistent with proper timing of bedtime, discontinuation of sleep props and a nighttime method, you are well on your way to consolidated rest. Hooray!


You may be wondering to yourself - Ok, that’s great but how much crying are we actually talking about?

Let’s talk numbers…


Every child is different, and I will say that some parents are truly amazed at the fact that with the proper timing and bedtime routine (among other things), their child only cries minimally on night one and then falls right to sleep.


I would say the average amount of crying for night one can be 30-40 minutes. That doesn’t mean the child or twins are crying that entire time. There are likely breaks in between and you are equipped with the tools and know how to wait, listen, observe, and respond to your child.






Crying and Sleep Training Based on of Age


  • ·      What to Expect with Babies (4-12 Months)

Within the first 3-4 nights of sleep training, you should notice that baby is taking less time to fall asleep. They continue to stay awake and alert during feedings and bedtime routine and they are making progress connecting their naptime sleep cycles.

 

 

  • ·      What to Expect with Toddlers (12-36 Months)

Within the first week of sleep training a toddler you should notice less bedtime fights, a reduction in how long it takes them to fall asleep at night and a decrease in the number of night wakings. They will also be more accepting of their nap and happier and more rested throughout the day.


  • ·      What to Expect with Preschoolers (3-6 Years Old)

Within the first week of sleep training a preschool aged child you should expect a significantly improved bedtime routine that involves clear expectations that are being followed and night wakings that are decreasing. You will also notice less emotional meltdowns if those were present before.

 

Is there Such a Thing as “Too Much Crying” when Sleep Training?


Often parents are reluctant to begin or follow through with sleep training because they are concerned about abandonment issues or if they are damaging their child by allowing some crying throughout the sleep training process.


The good thing is that there is NO RESEARCH to back up any claims that children suffer from abandonment or have any long or short-term effects from sleep training.  In fact, there IS research that shows negative effects of lack of sleep or sleep deprivation for both parents and children.

We can all agree that broken sleep SUCKS!


Sleep is the foundation of our health. When we sleep well, we are able to function better throughout the day, we are less susceptible to illness, and we FEEL better.

For children, a lot of growth happens during sleep because secretions of human growth hormone peak throughout the night.


Basically, SLEEP RULES! There are SO many benefits to achieving consolidated sleep for children.

A few nights of some difficulty is a small price to pay for what lies on the other end of sleep training. That is an independent sleeper with a lifelong skill.


Unfortunately, I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t tell you how much crying may be involved in sleep training your child or twins. What I can tell you is that sleep training can be hard because change is hard. However, it is up to you to decide if you’ll make a change that will ultimately allow for a better quality of life in a matter of days, or if you’ll settle for more crying in the long run due to nightly inconsistencies. The important thing to remember is you should see progress. If you are not seeing progress in that your child is able to self-soothe and put themselves to sleep quicker than previous attempts, you may want to double check the routine using our baby sleep guide here. If everything looks great and you are being consistent, but still not seeing success, chat with a sleep consultant.


At certified pediatric sleep consultants, we are experienced in finding red flags that may point to the conclusion that your baby is not ready to sleep train.


At Tweet Dreamzz we know that if you are contacting us, your child or twins are part of a loving home and environment and that you CARE about their health and sleep.  Crying is part of the process, but it is NOT permanent. When you work with us, you can rest assured knowing we are behind the scenes calculating wake times, bedtimes, feed times and routines to ensure optimal sleep for you are your little one(s) with the least amount of crying possible!


We would love to be a part of helping you raise a healthy, confident and rested child! Book a free discovery call here and we’d be happy to dive deeper into your specific situation.


Stellina Ferri is the author of this article. Stellina is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and mom of three.

She supports families through the journey of better sleep as a consultant with Tweet Dreamzz Sleep Consulting. She lives in the Boston, MA area with her family.

 

 

 

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