One of the biggest mistakes I always try to keep parents from making when sleep training is separating nap and night training from one another. Some popular sleep training methods even advocate for doing nights first, then days! As you can already tell, I have strong feelings about the correct way to approach this. Read on to discover why it’s important to sleep train for naps and nighttime at the same time. Then check out my training programs if you feel like you need support with sleep training your little munchkin.
Why Sleep Train for Naps and Nighttime at the Same Time?
I often come across families who are trying to train for nighttime sleep only. This usually happens for a few reasons.
1) The parent is unwilling or unable to keep their child home for naps during the day.
2) The child is in daycare and the baby’s caretaker is unable/unwilling to implement the training program during the day.
Or 3) The parent is under the impression that tackling one thing at a time (in this case nighttime sleep before nap sleep) is going to be easier, and that naps will come later.
There are only a few situations I am unable to work with a client, and one of the most common is when parents are unable to train for naps and nights at the same time.
Since the real issue with sleep training is an inability to fall asleep unassisted for naps and bedtime, causing the child to need help to complete their short naps and fall back to sleep throughout the night, it’s imperative that the child is able to learn to fall asleep on their own for all their sleep periods in a 24-hour period.
What If I Don’t Do It At the Same Time?
If you assist your child to fall asleep in any way during the day (rocking, holding, feeding, pacifier, swaddle, anything other than being put down flat on their back, awake in a crib by themselves) then they will not be able to consistently put themselves to sleep for bedtime and throughout the night.
Nap training is typically harder and takes more time to work itself out than night training because at night your child has the added help of an upped dose of melatonin (the sleep inducing hormone) to aid them in falling asleep. This is why I tell my clients to expect nighttime sleep to improve in 3-4 nights while naps can take up to 2 weeks.
Tackling night and daytime sleep at the same time is less confusing for baby who may not understand why you are willing to help them fall asleep during the day, but are unwilling to do the same things at bedtime and throughout the night.
Do your baby and yourself a favor by starting sleep training at night, followed by nap training the next day. You’ll thank me later! And if you’re looking for a tried and true sleep training method, which includes age-appropriate schedules, FAQs, my book and much more, please check out my programs.