For parents with little kids, the days have really started to blend into each other. Although it seems like families already have full plates, sleep training — aka teaching your child when and how to snooze — amid the COVID-19 pandemic might be a good idea. Lauren Wolf, a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant with Lolo Lullaby, shared why introducing babies as young as 4 months old to sleep training could be mutually beneficial for children and parents.
According to Lauren, social distancing may naturally lend itself to sleep training. "Even pre-COVID, any time I work with a family, I make sure that they block out two weeks of uninterrupted time to sleep train," she said. "So no travel, no dining out, no going to grandma and grandpa's. We have them be really strict for two weeks, so that we can give the child the best chance to fall into a solid schedule and start sleeping through the night."
The silver lining of the entire pandemic? No important activities to attend, and that means plenty of time for sleep training. "Right now, we don't have all these extracurricular activities," she explained. "We don't have a sibling's schedule that's affecting our baby. We're not going out to eat, traveling, or even really seeing family members. The priority can be dedicated to our kids and getting them on schedule because we're just home a lot. It's a win-win in terms of sleep training."
"If parents aren't getting a solid night's sleep, how are they supposed to navigate the day?"
Although the thought of sleep-training our children might seem overwhelming at first, Lauren says that eventually, parents will benefit. "Because most people are working from home, parents need the downtime," she said. "We need our kids to take naps. We need our kids to sleep through the night. A lot of my clients have been calling me saying, 'I usually have to hold my 6-month-old for naps, and now I can't do that because I have to be on a Zoom call.'"
To hammer home just how important getting a good night's sleep is for parents, Lauren reminded us just how much they're doing for their families every single day.
"Parents really need to get their kids on a sleep schedule right now," she said. "They're working and they're home. Sleeping through the night for parents is so crucial right now. If parents aren't getting a solid night's sleep, how are they supposed to navigate the day? The pandemic is such a day-by-day thing right now, and managing your kids — whether it's Zoom school or making their meals — is a lot. Trying to do everything without sleeping through the night is a recipe for disaster."
Some lucky parents accomplish their sleep training goals in a few days, however, depending on the specific method you use it could take longer. Lauren's advice? Don't get frustrated.
"There are lots of different sleep-training methods that involve a level of parental involvement," she explained. "These tend to take a little bit longer than [the cry it out method], but there's a little bit more connection with the parent. It can be a little less stressful for everybody because you're more involved."