Is Crying Normal During Sleep Training?
As a certified sleep expert, one of the more common questions we are asked at Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby is: “how much will my baby cry” and “how hard is sleep training?”
Being a sleep consultant is helpful for us to answer these questions, and how to address your concerns with your individual situation as we have worked with a large number of babies, toddlers, and families who are learning or transitioning to sleep training.
Crying is different for every child, and your situation is uniquely yours and quite different from another family, or even siblings. Sleep training can differ in so many ways depending on how your little one adapts to the training. Some babies have a less tolerant temperament for sleep training, and some have a higher one and this can create a vastly different experience for them. It is also dependent on how much time you have to work on the sleep training with your little one, and how consistent you are with their training.
During sleep training, it will be normal for a little bit of fussing and crying. For parents, when we hear our babies cry it actually triggers a response in our brain that is associated with empathy and our instant reaction is to comfort and console our sweet little one’s distress. If this happens, please know that you are not hurting their growth, nor are you causing a neurological stressor that will affect them in their sleep training or development. They will not hold this against you, it is a normal reaction for them to cry because they are simply using a normal reaction (crying) that is engrained in them to help alert those who are caring for them that they are hungry or need a diaper change.
Learning About the Process
As certified sleep experts, we meet the responsibility of helping you and your significant other get through sleep training with your baby as smoothly as possible, and with any new change, there will be hesitation and uncertainty until your baby learns the new routine and creates a reoccurring routine with it. It is normal, and we are here to walk you through each step of the way, and to answer any questions or reassure you that what you’re doing is truly a positive change for your baby.
Our parents and grandparents learned from their baby books and their own parents and friends that letting a baby cry out their frustrations was totally normal and in no way unsafe or creating a neurological distress in their baby. For a long time, many of us followed this advice and our children were able to participate in sleep training with great success.
Research and Sleep Studies
However, in the 1990s, there was a study done by Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician who wrote a book that sleeps training and letting a child “cry it out” created neurological conditions and even neurological issues in our babies and toddlers. Sadly, the test subjects for the study Dr. Sears conducted and used in his books to prove his theory was predisposed to abuse and neglect and lived in foster care, orphanages, or homes that are vastly different from how your baby has been treated or raised, and sadly, this created a lot of misinformation for so many, and a total abuse of power, and sharing information that was not correct with trusting parents and caretakers.
At Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby, we fully support sleep training, and as sleep training experts, we have been provided with many studies, reports, and by our own training and experiences. We are parents, too, and our own babies have been through sleep training with fantastic results and long-term positive results from it.
We are happy to provide you with any materials or research you would like to help you learn and understand that sleep training is safe, effective, and a healthy choice for your baby with no long-term or dangerous side effects.
No amount of research or data is enough when we hear our babies cry because it is distressing to us and to them when this happens, though we are here to reassure you it is totally normal, part of the sleep training and in no way harmful to your baby at all.
Crying is Normal and Part of the Process
To fully understand why your baby is crying during sleep training will be helpful for you to understand there is no concern, and we will provide our own research, training, and reviews from previous families we have worked with to help you understand the safety and efficacy of the process. Babies, just like kids and adults, are very protective of their sleep environments. As an adult, I am very specific about the mattress, pillow, and even blankets I use in my bedroom. Babies and children form the same attachments and are part of the reason they have a favorite animal or blanket that may follow them from their baby years into their teenage years.
When you think about how babies fall asleep at nap or bedtime, this is one of the first lessons they learn and is all they really know at this point. When we start the sleep training process it is new to them, and if there are tears, it is more about changing their pattern and their defense about us interfering with their sleeping space. Crying is their only defense mechanism at this point as they are unable to communicate with words, and we promise it is not a bad thing. It is truly just an adjustment period and again, normal for them to have a few tears during the process.
Adjusting to Sleep Training
If hearing your baby cry creates a distress for you, we have some tips to help you understand that your baby is safe, and not in distress. These tips will help you and your baby during the transition of sleep training.
- You are NOT a bad parent. You are actually creating a sleep schedule for your child that will help them get the best sleep during their naps and at bedtime and you are actually helping them create healthy habits. Sleep is one of the biggest issues for teens and adults creating bad habits, medicine, caffeine, and even health issues!
- My baby crying means I am not a good parent. Not true at all. We are certified sleep experts and parents too, and we know exactly how you are feeling. We are here to help you and reassure you every step of the way.
- If you feel as though your baby crying is too much for you to handle, there are options to let your significant other who may be able to handle the sleep training schedule and possible crying or fussing and can relieve your resistance until your baby has adjusted to the new sleep schedule.
Remember, crying is truly just communication for your baby and tears are normal and will be a part of their routine until they are old enough to talk and share their fears and feelings with you using words.
Often, crying is also a stress reliever for our little ones. As adults, we often cry when we are feeling stressed, tired, or frustrated with something. Crying is a common way to relieve our emotions and a natural stress reliever. Think about when you cry, and when you are done you often feel a little lighter and less stressed because you were able to cry it out a little.
At Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby, we have been through hundreds of sleep pieces of training, and we promise, your baby crying is normal, safe, and part of the process. It does not last forever and once they are adjusted; the tears will decrease, and they will be content and happy in their sleep space again.
Reasons for Tears During Sleep Training
During sleep training, there are some tips to remember, and we will share these with you as we help you through this process. They are great reminders to help you adjust to the change.
Here are some reasons why your baby may cry during sleep training.
- Your baby is tired and unsure about how to handle it
- Sleep training is a new process for them
- They may be releasing tears from an earlier situation
- They are not happy about changing their sleep schedule and letting you know
- Change is hard for babies, just as it is for adults. They like their current schedule and are hesitant about change.
- Training and working sleep muscles is hard work!
When you think about sleep training and the tears that may accompany it, remember it is a temporary situation and we are creating a healthy habit that will carry them through teen and adult years. If you do not create a safe and healthy sleep schedule now, you may have more tears and create sleep habits that can harm them for years to come. There may be tears now, though it will not be permanent. You are creating a safe, effective, and healthy process for your child for years to come.
You ARE a Great Parent
In conclusion, we understand that it is really hard for a parent to hear their baby cry, and we promise it is a normal, healthy reaction for them. As we discussed, there are so many reasons for tears, and they are not bad, and you are not being a terrible parent, at all!
Tears will happen and you do not need to solve everyone, some are just communication and as they grow, they will use words to communicate their needs and you will understand that often it is more about their hunger, or discomfort, or frustration with a situation they haven’t mastered yet. They are learning so many new things every day, and often it is overwhelming. They are new to everything we are accustomed to, and we forget that this world is so big for them, and it can be very overwhelming.
You are doing a wonderful service to your baby with sleep training. Using one of our certified sleep experts at Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby to help you through every step of the sleep training will help you to feel confident and understanding that this is such a wonderful habit you are helping your baby create that will serve them for life. We are here for you whenever you need us, and we promise that anything you ask is okay, and we will never judge you, and we are here to reassure you anytime you need us.
Keep in mind, sleep training is best for older babies and toddlers. If you are unsure of when to start, give us a call or send us a message and we will set up training for your child when they are at the appropriate age to begin and create a plan for you that will help you every step of the way.