It's a question I get asked a lot. When will my child start sleeping? How long does it take for sleep strategies to work.....
Well, it's important to be clear and honest here, the answer is not black and white. The time frame for seeing improvement in an infant’s sleep routine varies hugely on the strategy chosen by the consultant and parents/caregiver. On top of this like adults, all children are different and respond differently.
The most important aspect when considering sleep coaching is what kind of sleep training is right for you. Would you like to focus on parent-led or child-led strategies.
There are lots of different strategies for many different areas of sleep issues. If a parent or caregiver decide they would like to choose the approach that will cause the least amount of crying this could be a longer process due to it being a slow and gradual approach to help the sleep issue. Slightly harsher strategies tend to improve sleep habits and behaviours quicker but there is likely to be more crying and a higher level of stress for both the child and the parents/caregiver.
Is there a way to reduce tears and crying?
There are lots of other factors that will have a significant impact on the level of crying. These include the child’s age and temperament. As well as, their past experiences and parents’ level of consistency. As you can see above there is a table of behavioural strategies that all deal with similar sleep issues.
All families are unique and it is important to use given time frames as a “ballpark”. For example, a family using the gradual retreat “fading chair” method; (The Gradual retreat method is taken from the book “Good Night Sleep Tight” by Kim West). This is when the parent or caregiver sits on a chair by the cot on the first 1-3 nights. They then gradually start to move the chair further and further away every 3 days. until they are in the hall and can leave the bedroom before the child is asleep etc. The disappearing chair method can be seen as a harsher technique as it doesn’t take into account how the child is coping. A parent or caregiver may choose to make this less stressful on the child by moving away from the bed/cot area slower than the 3-day suggestion or adding in more steps. Causing a lot less stress and anxiety by assessing the child’s reactions on each step and taking more time to move retreat. Which shows us even a clear strategy with day by day guidance may take more days or can be adapted for different families. When we consider sleep coaching we need to consider what is best for the family emotionally. We need to take a holistic approach to see long-lasting results that won't impact them emotionally in the future.
So, the answer... We can always have a ball-park figure but we need to enter the transition with a realistic time frame and a positive approach to achieving our end goal.