Let’s talk about one of my most frequently asked questions: At what age can I begin to sleep train?
The short answer is, I NEVER recommend making any kind of sleep changes that encourage using separation based techniques, so technically, I don’t recommend sleep training at any age!
The long answer is that, under 9 months of age, babies do not yet have a sense of agency and I do not put any sleep plans in place until they have at least reached this age. When I do work with families to develop sleep plans, we do so together, taking great care to be sure that any changes we are making are ones that the parents are entirely comfortable putting in place. If parents are not comfortable, then to me, that is considered sleep training, and it is not something I will do. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I love this quote from Dr. Gordon Neufeld about sleep training: “this is a dreadful idea, of allowing kids to cry themselves to sleep. This was completely uninformed, this idea, this advice by what children truly need and how development works. When children cry, whether it is distress or tears of futility or upset, they need to cry in the comfort of those who are responsible for them. The fact is that it can produce sleep, just as it does in the neonatal nursery, in the hospital but that is because of defendedness. The most difficult thing for the child to face is separation and when we say, ‘ok, I am not going to talk to you anymore, I am closing the door, that is it, we push the child’s face into separation, it alarms them and it can call forth defendedness that can actually put them to sleep out of defense. But this is not a place where children need to go to sleep from. They need to go to sleep from a place where they relax, where all is well, just like we do.”