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Support People and Sleep Training

What to do if your support people disagree with your desired sleep approach...

Our support people mean the world to us, as they should. It truly takes a village! And without their love, help and support, we perhaps couldn’t manage it all, or at least in the way we wish. So I first want to give a shout out to all the villages out there, we appreciate you.

But when it comes to the issue of sleep, among many other parenting topics, I encounter a number of families who butt heads with their support team (could be grandparents, siblings, or even a partner) on what healthy sleep habits are and how to effectively achieve them.

Consistency is key in implementing a new sleep plan and having it be successful – so when I conduct my initial call with families, I stress the importance of cooperation, and that all those involved in caring for the child be on board and in implementing the strategies and tools we set out.

For example: Our goal is for baby to go to sleep on her own in her crib. Mom and dad are giving her the space to develop independent sleep skills at bedtime. But, during naps she’s with grandma, and grandma rocks her to sleep each time. The lack of consistency will cause progress to stall - baby is not regularly learning in each sleep situation and the process is confusing.

This can get very frustrating for parents. While they are grateful for the support, they feel very strongly about working on sleep. They are up all night, baby is tired from short naps, and they know it’s time and requires work. But they hit a wall since they aren’t the only ones caring for baby - and grandma doesn’t understand their choices and preference.

Parents in this situation might be hearing lots of this…

“I’m not just going to let her cry”

“They don’t need a schedule, she’ll let me know when she’s tired”

“Sleep can’t be taught”

“Babies aren’t supposed to sleep through the night”

See my post on the Truth Behind 5 Common Baby Sleep Myths to get the facts on the statements above and help support your position.

So, does this all sound familiar?

If you are looking to make sleep changes but you are not alone in the final decision, here are ways you can support your sleep needs and help your village understand your approach:

5 Tips for Having the Sleep Chat with Support People

Be confident in your decision and stand firm: This is your child and family after all. Try not to waver in how you feel about sleep training, the approach and the benefits. Do your research, discuss with your partner, and know that this is right for your child and your family. If you aren’t sure, take the time to figure it out. When you do present the decision, your support people should know you are serious and committed, and will be more willing to talk about how this will work, rather than if it will. If you are considering sleep support, but not sure what it will all look like, book a free assessment call with me and I’ll lay it all out for you and answer all your questions on how the training weeks will work.

Clarify your position: So now you have all the info, share it! You are confident in your decision, so explain to your support people why it’s important to you. Use these points as a guide:

  • Explain how restorative, consolidated sleep supports brain function, the immune system, mental and physical health. Multiple night wakings and short naps are disruptive to these functions. It’s important to work towards baby getting the best kind of rest, even if it’s uncomfortable to change current habits. The current sleep behaviour and situation is not working, so changes need to be made in an effort to support baby’s sleep health.

  • Share that children thrive on routine. So creating an environment that is constantly changing, and unstructured will cause confusion for a child. They like to know what to expect. It makes them feel safe and it helps them learn expectations.

  • Let them know that, for the most part, sleep doesn’t just resolve on it’s own. Learned behaviours around sleep continue as a child gets older. A once 6-month old with sleep challenges, is a 3-year old with sleep challenges, and then a 5-year old with sleep challenges. Let’s get baby on the right track with long-term healthy sleep habits earlier rather than later.

  • Share the truth about crying. Crying is common with sleep training, as it’s baby’s way of communicating their frustration and discomfort with the new arrangement. It’s fair, they are not used to sleeping on their own and they aren’t sure how to get back to sleep without the comforts they are used to. Any change can result in crying. But change is inevitable and part of life. If things aren’t working, it’s necessary. Just know the crying is temporary. Once baby feels secure and comfortable in her environment, she can understand how to calm and fall asleep, and the crying stops. Baby is now falling asleep easily. Again see my post on the Truth Behind 5 Common Baby Sleep Myths for more detail on this.

  • Remind them that the whole family is in need of sleep. When baby is up through the night, so is mom and dad. It’s important to understand that the baby and parent needs are important as a unit. Look, in those early months sleep is sporadic, baby has feeding needs and is super tiny. It’s expected that parents will be tired and up through the night. But once sleep becomes more organized and baby has matured, and is ready for sleep training, sleep can be consolidated with longer stretches consistently. So, while baby very much needs that restorative sleep, so does mom in order to function. Remember, mom and baby are a unit – what’s good for one is good for the other. Sleep training benefits the unit. And the whole family can now get the rest they need.

Share the benefits and rewards: Now that your support people know why making sleep changes is important, remind them of the advantages when it’s complete,

  • Sleep will come more easily for baby/child

  • The schedule will be consistent and more predictable, so caregivers will truly know when baby/child is tired and baby/child will get the sleep when she really needs it

  • Baby/Child will sleep restfully and restoratively through the night

  • Naps will be longer and more consistent

  • Baby/Child will be happier, not overtired and cranky

  • Baby/Child is getting the restorative sleep she needs for proper brain and body function

  • It will be easier to plan outings, knowing when baby should nap

  • The whole family is rested and can function at their best

Remind them that your intentions are good: This is ultimately your decision, but you do not want to hurt anyone's feelings in the process. Remind your family that you appreciate them and respect their involvement in your child’s upbringing. Their support is very important to you and you are coming to them because you want this plan to feel comfortable for all those that love your child. Remember you can be kind and thoughtful, while sticking to your decision.

Stand up for your parenting decisions – This is your child and you know what is best: That’s really it. If you have gone through all of the above, this is the truth in the end. You are asking for your support people to respect your parenting decisions, knowing all the facts and benefits. You are communicating your needs from a place of kindness and appreciation. I know it’s hard to navigate this, I hope these tips can help you inevitably execute the sleep plan you are looking for. You got this!


If you find yourself struggling with your little ones sleep and you not only want it solved (I can definitely do that for you), but you want to adopt a clear schedule that works and you want to understand how to make better decisions around sleep once your child is sleeping well, we must chat! Book a free 15-minute sleep assessment call to share where you are at with sleep and see how I can help you achieve the above.

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