Sleep training is hard work. It’s emotionally draining and physically exhausting, especially when you are running on fumes to begin with.


When I speak with a new family about their child’s sleep struggles, I ask the parents to tell me what they have tried at home. Do you know what the most common response is to my question???

 “We’ve tried EVERYTHING and nothing works!”

“And why hasn’t it worked?” I ask.

“We have no idea. He just continues to cry and won’t fall asleep.”

The reason for no improvement in their little one’s sleep is lack of consistency. For a change to occur in the way that your baby is falling asleep, there will be a period of increased protesting (most often crying) before you see improvement. This is also called Extinction Burst which is a form of behavior modification.

Parents will implement a new change and notice a spike in protesting (most often crying) but before their child has a chance to develop a new skill, the parents have already thrown in the towel or partially thrown in the towel.

{Just to be clear, I do not teach Cry-it-Out. If I wouldn’t do that for my own baby, I am not going to ask another parent to do the same thing.} However, I will say that there will be crying and crying is normal and to be expected especially when we are changing their baby’s routine to help teach them how to fall asleep independently.

My personal journey with sleep training is likely similar to yours. 


As a parent who had struggled with getting their child to sleep, I too, had a way of executing bedtime to make the transition as smooth and quiet as possible.  My method for getting my child to sleep was to start with nursing, then when they were almost asleep, start to stand up out of my glider and begin gently swaying. Once he was fully asleep, I would very carefully and s-l-o-w-l-y place him in his crib where I would keep my hand on his chest for a few minutes and then with some stealth like maneuvers, army crawl out of his room and Voilà! He’s asleep…well, at least for an hour or so.

Sound familiar? Whatever the method you use to get your baby to sleep, you know what works and when they start to wake an hour later, you know exactly how to get them back to sleep, with minimal crying. And that my fellow parent, is what almost all parents will say is their main goal in getting their child to sleep…avoid crying.

Example scenario of how sleep training backfires.


Tonight, is the night that you are going to start sleep training. You will not be feeding them to sleep and instead put them in their crib awake.

With nearly 100% certainty, they will cry but tonight you are going to stick with your new plan. No feeding or rocking to sleep but you will stay next to them until they fall asleep. But now they are crying hard and it’s breaking your heart to hear this. (I get it!) So, you let the crying go on for a few more minutes before throwing in the towel and going back to your trusty sleep tricks to help your child fall asleep. The first night was a bust.

 Fast forward to the following evening and you’re going to give it another go while allowing your child to learn to fall asleep without any of the extra things that you used to do. This time the crying is louder and lasts longer and so after 15 minutes you resort to your old sleep tricks.

What have you accomplished in the last two nights with sleep?

Nothing… but a tired and confused child and a frustrated parent.

How to use the science of extinction bursts to be successful with Sleep Training.


Extinction bursts are useful and successful when there is consistency.  Take for example you rock your baby to sleep every night and suddenly you stop the reinforcement of rocking to sleep. Baby will increase with the intensity and frequency in crying as an attempt to get what they want (being rocked). This can be challenging for you not only because it’s hard to hear but also because you may have a difficult time differentiating between a genuine need or protesting because of a change in their routine. Remember, it’s important to understand that extinction bursts are a normal part of a child’s developmental growth and is not a sign that something is wrong.

So, how can parents cope with bedtime extinction bursts?


Stay consistent. Going back to the scenario above where you make a change to your child’s sleep routine but are not able hold the boundary, consider how confusing this is for them. That is why having back up is also important.

Ask for support from your partner, a family member, or a friend when starting out. This helps you stick to the new plan and take a break when you need it.

It will be worse before it gets better. When you start down this road, know that there will be more crying initially but after a few days to a week, you will see a huge improvement and have a child who is falling asleep independently. You’ve made it through the extinction burst!

Extinction bursts are temporary, but a good sleeper is not.  You will come out on the other side of this and wonder why you didn’t do this sooner!

Need some help?

If you are looking for more support around sleep training, then please reach out and set up a call. For many parents, working with a sleep coach is the difference between accomplishing their sleep goals or feeling like they will never sleep again. Every single one of my families will tell you that one of the biggest reasons they were successful is the constant support and guidance that they received while working together.

Let’s make sleep a reality and not just a dream!




Our baby was four months old when we reached out to Evie and we were desperate for help. Our once good sleeper suddenly started fighting bedtime and it took HOURS of wrangling to get her to sleep at night, or she would wake up 45 minutes after bedtime, unwilling to go back to sleep. Bedtime had become something we dreaded and we were very sleep deprived. Evie was fast to respond, worked us into her schedule quickly and was extremely supportive, understanding and non-judgmental throughout the process. We had tried following methods laid out in several books and other online resources, but weren’t able to find success that way. It’s so much better to have an expert work through your baby’s unique needs and very much worth the investment.