Our post today comes from Baby Sleep Consultant Natalie Herman. Natalie is a fully Certified Baby Sleep Consultant and holds a Certificate in Sleep Consultancy and Early Prevention. She is also a member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. In addition, Natalie holds a Bachelor in Social Science (honours) and a Post Graduate in Human Resource Management.

You can meet Natalie and get your questions answered in the Education Hub at One Fine Baby Fair in Melbourne September 9 and 10. Register for your FREE tickets here.


Whenever there is talk of babies and sleep, you can guarantee, someone will always bring up the method of ‘crying it out’. Whilst this type of sleep training can be successful and in some severe cases, it is appropriate, it’s not the method I choose to adopt to help families achieve healthy sleep patterns for their babies.

Over the years, I have used many sleep training techniques with success, through a deep understanding of the family dynamic.

The most valuable part of the sleep training process is the initial meeting with the parents. I make it a priority to learn more about the family unit and their day to day routines, as this enables me to tailor a program just for them which I feel is the most valuable and useful part of working with a personalised consultant. Only after this will I provide advice on which methods to implement to best suit their baby.

During our initial meeting, it’s key to learn more about the family set up. Do the parents have support from family or friends? Are there other children in the home? Do they have to factor in day care/school drop offs?

It is also important to understand the current feeding routine so is baby breastfed or bottle-fed? Does the diet include solids? In addition – will one or both parents be facilitating the sleep training? Where does the baby sleep? In their own room or with the parents or a sibling?

These factors all impact the tailored plan created for a family. The more I know about a family and their lifestyle, the better equipped I am to develop a sleep program for their baby.

In my opinion, tailored programs are effective because they are designed specifically for the household, making them easier to adhere to and in turn increase the likelihood of success.

One of my favourite example of this is training a baby in Italy. If I suggested to put the baby to sleep at 6pm, the parents wouldn’t see this as a possible option considering the culture of staying up later, so I would adapt my advice accordingly.

I believe in a gentle approach to sleep training as change takes time. My goal is to empower the parent so that they are confident to implement the new approach and maintain their focus on the end goal.

Changing learned behaviour takes time for both the parent and the baby. Often this process works better if it is gradual because it gives baby time to know what is expected.

For example, if you have been feeding your baby to get them back down during the night, you will need to gradually reduce the number of feeds so that your baby learns how to self-settle and not use the feed as a sleeping aid. This change cannot be done abruptly without causing some distress to the baby and the parent.

Learning the gentle approach to sleep training helps to give parents the tools to manage any sleep issues that might arise down the track. I teach the parent to ‘pause’, which involves leaving baby to self-settle for a few minutes only.

Babies need a chance to be able to learn the skill of self-settling before a parent intervenes. They understand that you are there for them, but they soon realise you won’t pick them up immediately. It takes time to build the parents self-esteem in order to know when to go to their child, but once they have mastered this skill they are thrilled as they feel so empowered!

Sleep regressions seem to be less likely with gentle sleep training. With the ‘cry it out’ method, the training provided is not as flexible and the changes are quick, which means they may not continue to work long term. Instilling confidence in the caregiver is very important and I believe this can only be achieved gradually.

As a parent, you want to consider all the options available when it comes to sleep training.


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