Wondering about sleep training your little one? Can toddlers be sleep trained? What are the benefits of sleep training? We speak to Zoe Chu, founder of Sleep Supernanny to find out more about sleep training.
Zoe Chu is better known as SG Supernanny. Her superpower is to turn “Mombies” into Sleeping Beauties. She is Asia’s leading baby and adult sleep expert, speaker, author and coaches her dream team of baby sleep consultants. She is also a mother of four including a pair of twins.
Sleep Training Babies & Toddler: nInterview with Zoe, Sleep Supernanny
How did you become a Sleep Supernanny?
I was once a ‘mombie’. I was a first time mom to my twins and both my babies were poor sleepers. I was struggling and having so much sleepless nights with my twins. Once I learned how to establish a routine and foster healthy sleep habits for them, my whole life transformed for the better.
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I went on to have four kids and they slept through the night since they were 3 months old and all four are happy and well rested because I fostered healthy sleep habits. So I turned my passion into my sleep business and I have been empowering tired and sleep deprived families since 2013.
How did you start sleep training your children?
I started sleep training my twins by removing all the sleep props that I introduced to them. Prior to sleep training, I was using the hammocks (yaolans) and rocking them to sleep. I started implementing a routine for them and with a consistent routine, they knew what to expect and I could distinguish exactly why they were crying.
My life became much more predictable and I was able to have more me-time and my twins were able to fall asleep independently without any rocking. Instead of waking up crying and cranky, they started waking up happy, refreshed and recharged. With better sleep, they were much easier to manage and they are happy to play independently.
What is sleep training and the most common methods?
Sleep training is all about fostering healthy sleep habits for your child. It’s about teaching your child the skills of self-settling while giving your child the right environment and schedule to sleep better.
Some of the most common self-settling methods are controlled crying, pick up put down, stay in the room and the controversial Cry It Out method.
All these methods involve some form of gradual separation between baby and parent and ultimately teaching the child the skills of being an independent sleeper.
How do parents ensure a safe environment for babies to sleep in?
A safe sleep environment is a sleeping environment that reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths.
Place your baby on their back to sleep in the cot. Use a firm and flat surface. Keep the cot free from clutter. Less is more. Use a tight fitted sheet. Avoid overheating the baby by keeping the room temperature cool and comfortable.
Benefits of sleep training?
First and foremost, sleep training can help your baby establish a regular sleep schedule. This can lead to longer and more restful sleep, which is essential for their overall health and development. When your baby is well-rested, they will have more energy, be more alert and focused, and be better able to handle the demands of the day.
Another benefit of sleep training is that it can help to reduce the risk of sleep deprivation for parents. When your baby is sleep trained, you can be sure that they are getting the rest they need, which means that you can get the rest you need as well. This can help you feel more refreshed and energetic, and allow you to better handle the demands of parenting and in turn save your marriage and sanity!
Finally, sleep training can also help to strengthen the bond between you and your baby. When your baby is well-rested, they are more relaxed and contented, which can make them more responsive and affectionate.
By helping your baby develop healthy sleep habits, you can create a more positive and nurturing environment for both of you. In conclusion, sleep training your baby is a natural and important part of their development and can have many benefits for both you and your baby.
From helping them establish a regular sleep schedule to strengthening the bond between you and your baby, the benefits of sleep training are clear and undeniable.
How different is it sleep training an infant compared to sleep training a toddler?
First of all, it is never too early or too late to sleep train a child. I teach the same 5 steps system to clients with infant and toddler. With toddlers, you would need to establish clear and firm boundaries to educate them on what to expect during bedtimes.
Of course, generally speaking, sleep training an infant is easier compared to a toddler because they haven’t developed years of sleep associations.
Another thing is a toddler typically wants more power and attention and as such can be more defiant compared to an infant. Having said that every child is different and I have successfully sleep trained hundreds of infants and toddlers all with different temperaments and personalities. Consistency is the key and it’s important that parents remain committed to the sleep plan.
In your opinion, are there babies who cannot be sleep trained?
I personally don’t think so because to me sleep training is about changing the mindset of the parents.
Teaching your child the art of self settling is a skill. If you don’t teach it your child will never be able to master this skill well. It’s just like riding a bike. So if you don’t believe in your child you already lost the battle.
Not believing in your child’s ability to self settle is a losing battle because either you won’t try at all or you convince yourself your child just won’t be able to do it. That’s exactly why I would encourage parents to hire experienced and trusted sleep consultants like myself and my dream team to help and support them because we are their cheerleaders and we will journey with them every step of the way to get their success stories.
Sleep is our biological need and being able to sleep independently is a skill that needs to be taught from young.
Any travel tips for parents with babies and toddlers?
Bring a portable cot with you when you travel even if it is only for a few nights so your child can continue to be in their own sleep environment. Most hotels have a cot you can use or rent, or take your pack and play along and use that as a cot.
Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and fitted sheet which will help them feel more secure and mimic their sleep environment back home. Try not to over-schedule your itinerary.
Still be mindful of your child’s wake window and let them nap on the go so they don’t get too overtired. If all else fails – allow them to have early bedtime back at the hotel so they can reduce their sleep debts and over tiredness.
Additional resources and sleep recommendations are also available on Parent Hub.