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Will My Baby Cry When Making Sleep Changes? Let’s Talk About It

As a sleep consultant, one question I’m frequently asked is whether a baby will cry when making changes to their sleep habits. It’s a valid concern, as no parent enjoys hearing their child upset. The truth is, yes, there is more than likely going to be some tears. 

Change is hard, and for your baby, expressing discomfort or resistance to change often comes in the form of crying. However, it’s important to understand what these tears mean and how to navigate them effectively.

Understanding Your Baby’s Tears

Crying is a primary means of communication for babies. When your baby cries during sleep training – no matter which technique you use, they are expressing their confusion or frustration about a new routine. It’s not a sign that they’re in distress or that you’re doing something wrong. It’s simply their way of adjusting to the change.

When and how much your baby cries is also largely dependent on their temperament. Some babies cry a lot, others don’t cry nearly as often. You might hear sleep consultants categorise babies as ‘soothers’ and ‘signallers’. I have one of each! Your baby’s temperament will determine how much they cry during a period of sleep training.

But if we’re going to add up the amount your baby is crying now from overnight wakings, nap refusals, being overtired or not knowing how to self-settle, on average it’s going to be a lot more than the amount they cry both during the process of sleep training and afterwards, once they’ve adapted to a new routine. With sleep training, we’re simply getting all of the crying done at bedtime; shifting the distribution of when and how much your baby cries from across the day to a contained moment – a moment that we try and keep to an absolute minimum by setting you and your baby up for success during the day.

Navigating Tears During Sleep Training

While it’s never easy to hear your baby cry, remember that it’s part of the process and doesn’t mean your baby is in pain or distress. Here are a few strategies to navigate this transition:

Consistency is Key: Babies thrive on consistency. Keeping a consistent bedtime routine can help your baby understand what to expect and make the transition smoother. A consistent settling and resettling approach is also vital. Consistency = less tears.

Comfort and Reassurance: During this transition period, your baby may need comfort and reassurance. This doesn’t mean rushing to your baby at every whimper, but it does mean you can provide comfort when they’re genuinely upset.

Gradual Changes: Instead of making drastic changes all at once, consider making gradual changes to your baby’s sleep habits. This can make the transition easier for both you and your baby.

It’s important to remember that when sleep training, you should be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel by around night 3. So if you’re beyond that point, there may be something else in play that’s interfering with your baby being able to settle. Take a look at your sleep foundations and ensure that all your baby’s basic sleep needs are being met: Environment, clothing, awake windows, hunger and play. 

Let’s face it: crying is an inevitability when we’re talking about babies. But my perspective has always been that if there’s going to be crying, let’s make sure it’s productive. There are ways to minimise the amount your baby is crying for crying’s sake, and sleep training is the key. 

Need More Personalised Help?

Every baby is unique and what works for one may not work for another. If you’re struggling with your baby’s sleep habits and need more personalised help, consider booking a phone consult with me. I can provide tailored advice and strategies to help your baby sleep better and make this transition less stressful for both of you. Minimising tears for everyone involved is always my priority. I’m a Mother too – I get it.

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