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I tried staying with my child on the first night of sleep training and he/she cried even though I was right there. What happened?

Black couple in glasses looking confused

My answer: 

How I wish there were a way to change livewires’ patterns in ways they wouldn’t notice. Not possible. Chances are, your perceptive, doesn’t-miss-a-thing little one doesn’t let even a tiny shift escape their attention. When we stop doing what we used to do to get them to sleep — even if we stay right there with them trying to help— they are going to let you know that they don’t like it or understand it. This first, horrible night is when a lot of parents say,

“Never mind.” But that’s a mistake. What we may not realize is that the first night is always going to be a total dumpster fire. It’s the second night that matters. Once you get over their initial “what the…?” reaction, they may start recognizing the new pattern and once they fully get it, they really do settle in.

Here's the other cool/important point: even if they're crying hard, the fact that you are there actually lowers their stress. It's called "social buffering" and it's been found to result in lower physical and emotional stress (for both parent and child). Isn't that cool?


So, don’t be shocked if the first night is a new level of awful. If I were you, I would expect it. Just keep going. Once livewires get the shock and outrage out of their systems, they settle in…eventually. 🔆

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