I’m delighted to share with you the introduction to my new book ‘Beginnings: A Guide to child psychology and development for parents of 0-5 yr olds’.
Working with baby and child sleep is like doing a jigsaw puzzle that has some missing pieces, some placed in the wrong position and a handful of extra pieces from another puzzle that don’t belong thrown in for good measure. Some children need all seven steps to be implemented consistently for them to sleep as soundly as possible, whileContinue reading “When to Expect Positive Change when Working on your Child’s Sleep (or sleep training)”
Bedtime resistance is common in the toddler and preschooler years and what was once an easy bedtime can often stretch out to hours. Similarly night waking may resurface (or not improve as expected). There are many reasons for disturbed bedtimes and waking, however the bedtime routine and what happens immediately before it is key in my opinion.
I know too well how tempting it is to follow the magic sleep plan your friend with the perfect sleeping baby has followed. I know what it feels like to second, third and fourth guess your choices. Your parenting style is meant to make your baby MORE confident, but she’s only becoming clingier. What did you do wrong to create such a needy and anxious little boy? The answer is – absolutely nothing. NOTHING you have done has created a ‘bad sleeper’.
Sleep training tends to punish babies and toddlers for problems that don’t belong to them. They are left to cry, put down while they still need a hug, denied milk when they are hungry and ignored when they most need comfort. I don’t actually believe any parent wants this for their children, yet their exhaustion leaves them with no other choice. Or so they think. There are in fact, many ways to gently improve infant sleep that don’t involve any sleep training at all. Here are eight of them:
We (‘we’ meaning society) seem to think that baby sleep is linear. By that I mean we seem to think that it gets better as babies grow older. Or at least we believe it is static, ie. it won’t get worse again. The thing is, it’s not linear (certainly not in an upwards trajectory) and it’s not static. It goes up and down (mostly down in the first year). This is entirely normal and very, very common…
Is it possible to work with a baby’s sleep gently? Absolutely, because in every case it is not the baby that needs changing or fixing, it is usually something the parent is, or isn’t doing. That said, it is only possible to change sleep gently to a biologically appropriate level. The fact remains that babies don’t sleep through the night, while that may be a problem for parents in our busy world, the reality is there is normally nothing wrong with the baby.
This talk of ‘sleeping through the night’ must end, it is factually inaccurate. This myth and misinformation pathologises normal infant sleep and turns it into something problematic that needs fixing. The fact is, the baby achieves nothing from being taught to be quiet while they transition between sleep cycles, the benefit here is solely for the parents.
The mainstay of almost all baby sleep training is the idea of teaching ‘self soothing’ or ‘self settling’. This approach believes that if babies are put down ‘drowsy but awake’ and parents do not rush in to feed or rock when they wake, that the baby will learn to settle back to sleep without parental input.
The same sleep patterns that have been handled without trouble or ‘expert advice’ for thousands of years have now become a source of big business. It is in the benefit of industry for babies to be seen as having sleep problems.