Regardless of your chosen parenting method, there\u2019s one thing everyone can agree on when it comes to raising a child: Sleep is important. It\u2019s important for you and it\u2019s especially important for your baby, whose brain is undergoing a developmental marathon. However, for families with a little one in the house, it often doesn\u2019t come easy, leaving sleep-deprived parents desperate for a cure to bedtime troubles.\u00a0\u00a0 Fortunately, poor sleep doesn\u2019t have to be a chronic problem for families with small children. With consistency and a good routine\u00a0\u2014\u00a0and perhaps a little outside help\u00a0\u2014\u00a0it\u2019s possible to support your baby\u2019s natural sleep rhythms and leave everyone in the household feeling rested and refreshed.\u00a0 A Good Foundation The term \u201csleep training\u201d can be controversial in some parenting circles, but\u00a0in reality, starting\u00a0with good sleep habits at the get-go can set your infant up to be a good sleeper for life. According Maggie Moore, pediatric sleep consultant at Get Moore Sleep, which serves the Indianapolis area, the first step is to practice safe sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines include laying the baby on his back on a firm surface, such as a bassinet or crib, with no soft bedding for the first year.\u00a0Moore also emphasizes establishing a routine where your child can get about 12 hours of sleep per night. Parents need to let go of the expectations that their infant is going to sleep through the night. \u201cSome babies do,\u201d Moore says, \u201cbut for the majority, that just isn\u2019t the reality.\u201d However, if at about 4 to 6 months, you start becoming concerned about your child\u2019s sleep habits, you may want to reach out to a sleep consultant, like Moore, for sleep-training help. Common Sleep Issues\u00a0 Moore begins seeing sleep-training clients at 16 weeks adjusted age (that is, 16 weeks from the projected due date) with clearance from the child\u2019s pediatrician. There are two main sleep issues she addresses in children under 2 years old: \tSleeping independently.\u00a0They may take short naps and wake often throughout the night. They need mom or dad to connect the sleep cycles by feeding, rocking or holding, particularly for lengthy amounts of time.\u00a0 \tPoor napping.\u00a0Going too long between naps can leave a child to feel overtired, meaning they nap too long or have a hard time falling and staying asleep. When Moore meets with her clients, she presents a variety of different sleep training\u00a0methods, from the\u00a0more strict\u00a0\u201ccry it out\u201d method, where the baby is left to self-soothe for long periods of time, to the gentler \u201cpick up, put down\u201d method, where there are verbal and physical check-ins at timed intervals. \u201cI always ask the client what their goals are, and most of the\u00a0time it\u2019s to get their child\u00a0to sleep better so they are healthier and better rested,\u201d Moore says. From there, she\u00a0encourages them to choose the method they\u2019re most comfortable with so they can be consistent in their routine.\u00a0\u00a0 \u201cI think of the sleep as a picture of a table, where one leg is sleep training and the other is schedule,\u201d she says. \u201cIf you have a child who will put themselves to sleep but doesn\u2019t\u00a0have a good schedule,\u00a0they\u2019ll protest more. You need both in place to have a healthy sleep foundation.\u201d\u00a0 Sleep Training Misconceptions\u00a0 Sleep training isn\u2019t for every family. Some parents identify with a parenting philosophy that doesn\u2019t support sleep training, or they fear it could negatively affect the child. \u201cAs long as what you\u2019re doing is safe ... I want to support you in that,\u201d Moore says. However, as a mother who suffered from postpartum depression, she understands how professional help can greatly improve the mother\u2019s mental health and a family\u2019s quality of life.\u00a0 If you\u2019re considering sleep training, but still have some reservations about it, here are some ideas that may ease your mind: \tSleep training is not necessarily \u201ccry it out.\u201d\u00a0If you\u2019re feeling pressured by a provider to practice a type of sleep training that doesn\u2019t feel right or align with your values, then consider finding one who can be more supportive. \tSleep training won\u2019t come without tears.\u00a0\u201cEvery time you do something different with your child, there will be protesting,\u201d\u00a0Moore\u00a0says. If you feel guilt or disappointment that your child cries when trying to implement a new schedule, give yourself grace and be confident that what you\u2019re doing will be better for your family in the long run. \tLet go of the idea that sleep comes naturally. Many things in our culture, from artificial lighting to the food we eat, can play a role in poor sleep. However, by establishing a good foundation for sleep, you can foster your child\u2019s natural sleep rhythms. With a little help, you and your baby may be able to stop counting sheep and start looking forward to a restful night\u2019s sleep.