Are you asking yourself why is sleep training not working for me? There could be many reasons why sleep training didn’t work out for a family. I know that some of these parents are often discouraged and have resentment towards teaching their little ones to sleep independently because the process didn’t work for them. Let’s look at 7 reasons why sleep training is not working for you, why it can fail, and let’s work on making this process an easier and successful one.
1- Medical concerns
In order for us to sleep soundly, we need to feel good, healthy. If we have a cold or a chronic illness, chances are that our sleep won’t be rejuvenating. We will have multiple night wakings and we won’t feel rested. As adults, we have the necessary tools to understand what is preventing us from sleeping, and although we may be frustrated that our bodies are not well, we understand why we are not sleeping well.
If our babies are sick or have medical concerns, we can work on their sleep hygiene for days and weeks, but if they have some underlying health issues, sleep training is not ideal. If you are concerned that your baby could have eczema, allergies, asthma, or even sleep apnea, consult with your pediatrician and reach out to a sleep expert to establish if sleep training is appropriate at this time.
I always tell my clients, “I know I said it a million times, but consistency is key!” In order for any habits to stick, we have to nurture the new ritual for many days before we can see the results. If we try to lose weight, it won’t happen overnight. If we try to start a meditation routine, it will take dedication for the new habit to stick.
This is the same with sleep training! In some cases, we can see results in one night, depending on the sleep concerns. Will the parents achieve their end goal in one night? Most likely not, but we can definitely see the process in some cases.
What do I mean by consistency? If one parent is not on board and is not following the suggested plan, chances are that the baby will be confused. She won’t know what to expect and the process won’t be as successful. If the parents become discouraged and cave in for one night, all the effort put in so far will be for nothing. If you are working on sleep association, and you are going back to the old ways of falling asleep, this will also slow down the sleep training process.
It’s like anything…in order to see results we have to have a plan and stick to it! If you are unsure what the plan should be, reach out to a sleep expert!
3- Feeding schedule
There is a lot of controversy and different schools of thought regarding night feedings for our little one. It is true that newborns have to feed multiple times at night. In order to get more educated around night feedings for newborns, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant in your area.
That being said, once your baby is healthy and at least 4 months of age, we can start working on their sleep hygiene, and not stuffing their little bellies. This is considering and assuming that your pediatrician agrees to the process, and ruled out any health concerns. If your baby is 6 months old and is waking up more than once to two times a night, these feedings are not likely to be related to hunger. (assuming again that the baby is healthy and well-fed). Feeding your baby more milk at night won’t make these wakings go away. This feeding schedule can contribute to the fact that sleep training didn’t work for these babies.
I recommend we look into making sure that the babies are not associating sleep with feeds. If the baby is used to eating 2-3 times a night, unless they are awake after the feed, they may have a sleep association that prevents them from falling asleep independently. Additionally, if their bellies are full, too full at night, it will affect the quality of sleep and may create discomfort. The night wakings may be related to the discomfort and because they cannot self-soothe.
4- Method chosen
In order to be successful with sleep training, the parents need to feel comfortable with the approach. Not one solution fits all, so it’s imperative that the parents choose a sleep training method that matches their values, lifestyle, and goals. It is common that some families are following a plan that was given to them without believing in the method fully. This is not setting us up for success and it will be harder to stick to the plan and be consistent.
Ask yourself if you are ready to sleep train, and take the time to assess and find your parenting style!
5- Support system
It takes a village! Like anything changes in life, it will be easier to go through them if we feel supported and have loved ones to reach out to. Sleep training can be a hard process. Trying to do it alone can be difficult. Reaching out for help is absolutely fine and recommended. Having someone who makes you accountable, will help you stay consistent and will help you keep your eyes on the end goal, which is sleep for everyone.
6- Inappropriate sleep schedule
This is probably one of the most important reasons why sleep training is not working for some families. We can work on being consistent, on how to wean the night feeds etc. but if we are unable to create an appropriate sleep schedule for your child, all these efforts will almost be for nothing! That being said, we absolutely want to be consistent!!!
In order to foster good sleep hygiene, it is important to ensure their circadian rhythm is stabilized. Like us, babies have circadian rhythms or biological processes that cycle about once every 24-hours. You can think of these rhythms as an internal clock.
When babies are born, their internal clocks aren’t synchronized with the external, 24-hour cycle of daylight and darkness
It can take time for babies to get in sync. We sometimes have to intervene and help our children to create a sleep schedule that will help them regulate their internal clock. If a baby is not tired, he may be upset in the crib not because he cannot self-soother, but because he is not tired enough. They will also have a hard time going to bed if they are overtired.
As you can see, finding the sweet spot when they get tired is essential!
I hope this is helpful. Always, let me know how I can help!