The question of whether or not sleep training will work is usually asked at least once in every pre-consult phone call I take. My answer is always the same; YES. There are only two reasons why a sleep plan doesn’t work within a two week time period.
- One: An undiagnosed medical issue is driving the sleep issues. Over the last 4.5 years I have had two cases where progress had stalled, I referred both cases back to the pediatrician and asked for allergy tests. Both children had pretty severe allergies that had never been diagnosed, once they were treated, they were both able to sleep through the night.
- The inside scoop: Undiagnosed medical issues can range from airborne allergies, to food allergies, to enlarged adenoids and many other issues in between. Sleep issues can be attributed to many different causes so sometimes underlying medical issues can be overlooked and attributed to a child just not being able to self-soothe or things like teething. Once sleep training has commenced, we are able to rule out any typical issues and if there are undiagnosed medical issues occurring, they can be identified through a process of elimination. It’s rate, but it does happen.
- Two: Inconsistency in following the sleep plan. By the time many parents seek out sleep consultations, they are at their wits end and have “tried everything.” What I typically see through the course of a consultation and sleep history intake is a mix of attempts at different sleep training methods. Parents usually try a method or intervention (timed checks/cry it out etc) for a handful of days and then when they haven’t seen any big changes, they abandon the approach.
- The inside scoop: A sleep training method is an important part of a sleep plan but its just ONE FIFTH of what needs to happen to see significant changes in your child’s sleep habits. There are 5 main pieces to creating a solid sleep foundation. Implementing each piece is ESSENTIAL and IMPERATIVE to achieving your sleep goals. If there are other pieces of the sleep puzzle missing out of the big 5, your efforts in using a method will most likely not be successful. Not because the method doesn’t work or your child is not a good sleeper but because you are fighting an uphill battle, the lack of other pieces being in proper order will work against you.
The Good News
Consistency is the cure all. Undiagnosed medical issues are rarely the cause of sleep training fails and when they are present, going through the process brings them to light, which is a win win.