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Why Sleep Training Isn’t Working

crying baby with dad

Most parents have already tried sleep training by the time they reach out to us. Many have read all the books and blogs, purchased every Taking Cara Babies program, or tried implementing multiple sleep training methods with no success. Some have even paid other sleep consultants, but ended up right back where they started, often in far worse shape.

These parents come to us feeling defeated, worried that their baby just can’t be sleep trained, and that they’ll never sleep again. And honestly, those feelings are 100% valid because every previous sleep training attempt – for lack of a better word – failed.


So why do most sleep training attempts fail?

With over 16 years of teaching parents and babies sleep skills in person and observation, my team and I can now break down why most sleep training attempts fail. Here are just a few of the most common reasons:


1. Sleep training books, methods & plans

All the sleep training books, blogs, methods and pre-packaged plans are confusing. They either contradict one another, are impossible to implement when you’re exhausted, or they don’t tell you what to do when the plan isn’t working!

Pro tip: Your baby is a human too, not a math problem with a linear solution. There is no one formula or method that works for every baby! The only thing that will ever work is to observe your baby, factor everything from your baby’s personality and developmental phase (including all of the things that didn’t work), and then tailor your approach for your baby.


2. Trying to avoid or stop tears

Why? We are conditioned to believe that all crying is bad. We as parents associate our baby crying with sadness, pain, illness, hunger, and more. . We’re taught to jump if our baby cries, and to do whatever it takes to make it stop. We shush, rock, bounce, use pacifiers, bottles and boobs—anything to make it stop. But there are so many other possibilities as to why your baby is crying. A lot of the sleep training books out there (e.g. Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution and myriad sleep training methods marketed as “gentle”) tell you to do a zillion things to do in order to stop your baby from crying. Yet maybe your baby yelling is their way of saying “Hey leave me alone! I’m tired and I need to sleep!”

Pro tip: Do less. When you do a zillion things (i.e. go in and out of your baby’s room for timed checks, to shush, pat, etc.) it’s extremely confusing for your baby. It also makes your baby cry harder and longer!

Crying is a normal human behavior, and it’s your baby’s only form of communication. If you jump to shush your baby out of habit or fear, you miss the opportunity to observe your baby’s body language, hear their different voices, and then respond to their genuine needs.


3. Confusion about “drowsy but awake”

Most baby sleep books, methods and programs tell you to put your baby down “drowsy but awake,” but what does that really mean? It sounds fairly straightforward, but drowsy is a subjective word! Does drowsy mean half asleep, or half awake? If a baby’s eyelids are drooping on the bottle but their eyes pop open for a second after you put them down, are they awake or half asleep?

Pro tip: Awake is the key word. In order for a baby to learn to sleep independently, they need to learn how to fall asleep from a wide awake state. Putting your baby down awake gives them the space to learn how to self-soothe, whether that be sucking their thumb or holding a blanket.


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What am I doing wrong?  My baby won’t sleep!

You’re doing nothing wrong. Babies want to sleep and get overtired easily which often sparks adrenaline and makes them seem extra awake. Also, babies have to learn how to sleep independently just like they need to learn the skills to crawl.


At what age should a baby sleep in a crib?

Though many have strong opinions about when babies should sleep in a crib, we at Mommywise would argue that a baby should sleep in a crib by 8-12 weeks old (adjusted age for preterm babies) before they learn to roll. After 8 weeks other developmental milestones come quickly and it’s best to get your baby settled in the crib before they outgrow their bassinet or the Snoo.


Can you sleep train during a sleep regression?

Yes, you can sleep train during a sleep regression. In fact, a sleep regression is a perfect time to sleep train because the behavior that leads to sleep regressions is usually your baby’s way of telling you that they’re ready for change. So for example, if your baby is breaking out of the swaddle, that means they probably want to find their hands to suck, or roll around. With sleep training, you can change all of this while teaching independent sleep skills.


When can babies fall asleep on their own?

Babies can fall asleep on their own immediately when they’re newborns, straight home from the hospital. If you swaddle your baby and put them down after 45 minutes of awake time, and give them space to fall asleep (much like in the stroller or car seat), they can fall asleep peacefully and easily without being held.


What do you do when your baby won’t sleep at night?

If your baby won’t sleep at night and you’re starting to feel desperately tired or that it’s unsafe, get help. Hire a postpartum doula for overnight care, or bring a family member in until you are prepared to teach your baby to sleep independently through sleep training and self-soothing techniques.


We’ve tried everything.  Can you help us?

Yes, we can help you sleep train even if you’ve already tried everything. Many of our clients have already tried every kind of sleep training method and even paid consultants before coming to us.


What sleep training method do you use?

Mommywise uses the sleep training method developed by Mommywise Founder Natalie Nevares. The Mommywise sleep training method is all about observing your baby and learning what your baby needs in order to learn to self-soothe without props. Some crying will occur, the Mommywise tailored approach minimizes tears and makes learning new sleep routines as easy as possible for your baby. 


Is in-home sleep training worth it?

In-home sleep training is worth it if you choose the right service. Based on client reviews, in-home sleep training with Mommywise was worth the investment because their babies were sleep trained faster and easier than other services. There are thousands of baby sleep consultants online, so if you’re going to pay for in-home sleep training, invest in a leading sleep training service that exclusively offers in-home sleep training. Having pioneered in-home sleep training, Mommywise has the most experienced Team in the industry. 


What if it doesn’t work? Do you have a guarantee?

Here’s what we know: If we take you as a client, it will work. Our 100% success rate and over 11 years of glowing reviews are evidence that we deliver sustainable results. We guarantee that you will be satisfied with your results, and we will not end your package unless you are completely confident that you no longer need us. Though you will be able to answer your own questions after your package ends, just shoot us an email if you run into any problems in the future. Our door is never closed, and we don’t charge for quick questions even a year later!


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Natalie Nevares

Natalie Nevares

As Mommywise Founder, my mission is to help families grow and thrive, provide sustainable income for women and mothers, raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders, and make treatment more accessible. As a mentor and parent, my mission is to role-model a strong woman, parent, and leader who endeavors to leave a legacy of positive change through service and humility.

Natalie Nevares

Natalie Nevares

As Mommywise Founder, my mission is to help families grow and thrive, provide sustainable income for women and mothers, raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders, and make treatment more accessible. As a mentor and parent, my mission is to role-model a strong woman, parent, and leader who endeavors to leave a legacy of positive change through service and humility.

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