Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nanny Confessions: Sleep Training Helps Us a Lot!

What is Your Favorite Sleep Training Method?

I’ve talked to a lot of parents over the years who love every part of parenting except sleep training. These days sleep training has become controversial with dozens of methods ranging from gentle to strict styles. Some cry-it-out methods, that may have been popular in the past, aren’t considered good for child development now. Sleep training can be done without hours of crying and tears.

As a nanny, I’m a big fan of Ferber’s sleep method, which encourages parents to let children cry for very short periods of time – five to 10 minutes at most – before going back in and reassuring the child that their caregiver is still there. But, I warn parents who want to use this method that they should never use any kind of sleep training with young babies under the age of eight-months-old. Babies at that age can’t understand that their caregiver or parent is going to come back and may feel abandoned, which can create psychological problems.

Sleep training doesn’t have to be as regimented as the Ferber method though. Starting with a bedtime routine is key. A child who goes from playing and being excited straight to a dark, quiet room at bedtime is obviously going to have trouble falling asleep. Transitions are the name of the game with small children, and having a sleep routine that includes a warm bath, perhaps a massage, a bedtime story, and a cuddle helps encourage children to sleep. A routine alone helps a lot with a fussy child who doesn’t want to sleep.

Sleep training helps me at my job as a nanny. It’s difficult to have a child sleep properly without a nighttime routine. I don’t like to listen to children cry and get upset. A normal routine often eliminates sleep time fights because the child knows what to expect. Ideally, I love to work as a nanny for children who go to bed easily and can sleep alone.

As a nanny, I know that I need to be flexible and willing to learn from the parents to help the children in my care grow and thrive. When parents work with me and give clear expectations for sleep, I find that nighttime goes a lot more smoothly.

Click here to learn about all the most popular sleep techniques.

What are your favorite techniques for helping little children sleep well?

Elizabeth Hawksworth, also known as Torontonanny, is a nanny, writer, and blogger. She’s been in the childcare business for approximately 17-years, and currently works part-time with a number of children in the city. She enjoys working the most with newborns and babies up to the age of two, and details her nannying experiences on her blog, http://www.torontonannyblog.com. She is also a published writer, and you can find her first poetry book, Break for Beauty below. Elizabeth enjoys walking, shopping, reading and crafting, and lives with her two cats, Athena and Fili, in the heart of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Michelle said...

I consider Ferber technique as very very strict. He is one of the methods criticized as being a cry it out method. I'm sure you are right that it's a perfectly fine technique. But it is criticized as being too strict cry it out method.

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