If you stop by your local library or browse the selection on Amazon.com, you’ll find hundreds of books on children’s sleep training. Sometimes it seems that there are as many ways to teach a child to go to sleep as there are children! In some respects, that’s not far from the truth. As any parent who has more than one child has discovered, each child is unique. What works for one child has only a 50% chance of working for another child. Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” sleep training method for children.
To the frustration of parents, different children respond to different techniques when it comes to establishing bedtime routines. This can be a considerable problem in families with multiple children and requires that parents exhibit some flexibility both in developing bedtime routines and seeing them through.
That said, consistency, or rather flexible consistency, is the key to successful sleep training. Children respond to routine so it is important to develop a chain of events that lead up to bedtime. When consistently repeated, these events cue the child’s mind and body that sleep is coming and help him to relax and go to sleep. However, parents must realize that there are situations when routine must be abandoned; for instance, if an infant hits a growing spurt and needs to nurse more often, if a child is teething or is ill, or if a family event or outing delays bedtime. These are times when flexibility is more important than consistency at bedtime.