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What is sleep training?

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Sleeping Sleeping tips

Sleep training involves parents trying to teach their baby to settle themselves at night. An example of this is known as “controlled crying”. “Controlled crying” involves leaving your baby in their bed for increasing periods of time until they stop crying and fall asleep.

Should I sleep train my baby?

Some parents say sleep training has helped them and their baby both sleep better during the night. However the long-term effects of sleep training are not well researched. Some experts do have concerns about it and do not recommend doing it, particularly for babies under 12 months.

The main worries about sleep training are that:

  • Being left alone to cry could be bad for your baby and needing you to settle them is a normal part of their development.
  • Having less contact with your baby in the night will give you less chance to feed them, and may affect your milk supply if you are breastfeeding.
  • Leaving babies alone to sleep puts them more at risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). For more information on safe sleep see our page on safe sleeping tips
  • Sleep training is not a solution for babies waking and crying at night

Tips for getting your baby to sleep

There are things you can do to help you both sleep better at night. Babies love routine, so try and be as consistent as you can at bedtime. This means your bedtime pattern should be the same every night and your wee one goes to sleep at the same time.

Ready Steady Baby has lots more information on helping your baby sleep and how to get into a routine. If you think your baby’s not settling at night because of a health issue, contact your GP or health visitor for help

Sleep problems during the coronavirus pandemic

You may have found that your wee one’s sleeping patterns have become more disturbed since the coronavirus pandemic started. This could be because lockdown restrictions have made it harder for everyone in your family to get out and about and burn off energy. Or it could be because groups and activities you usually attend together have been closed.

If your child has additional support needs, you may be finding it even harder if you haven’t been able to get the same level of support and respite you did before the pandemic started. If this is the case for you, you’re not alone, and there is support out there and the following organisations can all help:

Cry-sis offer help and support to parents with babies who cry excessively or have sleeping problems. They have a helpline you can call on 08451 228 669.

Sleep Scotland offer support to improve sleep habits for children and young people. Email to get in touch or visit their website.

Twins Trust have advice on sleep if you have twins, triplets or more.

Last updated: 13 Jun, 2022