There are very kind and supportive ways to support sleep that just don’t need to include behavioural interventions such as controlled crying.
Some helpful tips;
1- We sometimes forget that babies have baby sleep; little sleeps, frequent wakings, lots of feeds and more little sleeps. We try to make babies have big long sleeps, but that is adult sleep. Babies don’t need to be trained so they sleep like adults, they need support to find natural sleep, natural baby sleep.
2 – Overtired babies have enormous difficulty just drifting to sleep. Some bright and alert babies have difficultly winding down for sleep time, and if we don’t assist them, they can quickly become overtired, then struggle to drift to sleep.
3 – Babies learn from experiences. If a baby knows only feeding or rocking to sleep, then it is quite reasonable for them to expect that is how sleep happens. Often it is the parents who change their expectations and want for their baby to sleep without needing to feed or be cuddled and the baby does not know what is expected, and this is the time that some babies struggle. Allow babies to sometimes cuddle and feed to sleep and sometimes allow them to go into their cot, awake but drowsy so they can also experience drifting to sleep in their little cot.
4 – Babies are not always able to link one sleep cycle with the next so they wake at the end of each sleep cycle. These babies are not bad sleepers, they may need some gentle support to return to sleep.
5- Parents often think they need to train their baby so they will sleep well … they will be fine if they are supported to sleep when they are tired when they are tiny, not forced to comply with a clock.
6 – Distressed babies need comforting until they mature and develop the skill of self regulation, so you are never spoiling a baby when you are comforting them, rather, you are helping them learn to calm.
7 – Being flexible will save sanity. Our village of the past was so essential for supporting those early parents. It is NOT a failing to ask for some guidance or help, it is intelligent and sensible to seek advice as the adjustment to all the new events of parenting are challenging.
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There are some common themes when it comes to managing our children’s sleep. And although every baby and toddler is an individual, parents tend to share similar responses to sleeping problems. One is hoping that things will get better with time, the other is finding it difficult to ask for help.