Wouldn’t it be great to change from one habit to another at the snap of a finger? No pain, no discomfort, just ‘snap’, suddenly a 5am-waker and loving a 10km morning run before a nutritious green smoothy.
I can’t help thinking of my poor friends who tried to stop smoking. What a struggle. They all regretted starting in the first place.
I think we can all relate to trying to change unhealthy eating and exercise habits. We all want to be slimmer and fitter. We know what we need to do to achieve that, but it requires us to ruffle our feathers up a bit and dislodge our comfort zone. We might have the discipline to stick to a new way of doing things for a little while, but man is it hard to keep up.
I am grateful to say I never experienced the struggle of trying to stop smoking because I never started.
Fairly regular exercise and a mostly healthy diet are my norms. I have my parents to thank for that. I was brought up seeing my parents making physical activity a priority – despite stressful lives. It was also a given that my meals were regular and wholesome, etc.
I’m not talking perfection here, but it’s a good, sustainable norm I’m grateful for.
My goal for the first part of this blog was to introduce you to the fact that, simply put, sleep training is the act of introducing a habit.
The sooner a baby is introduced to good, regular sleep hygiene, the sooner these habits will become her norm.
Start as you mean to continue.
Make beneficial habits your norm.
The longer a certain habit is practiced, the more difficult it is to change.
We have established that it is normal to feel a bit of discomfort while we are learning a new way of doing things.
Q – Can we sleep train baby without him feeling a bit of discomfort?
A – No.
Q – How long will baby’s discomfort last?
A – This depends on a few factors: the age and temperament of the child; the sleep dept she has going into the sleep training process; consistency of the programme – VERY important. Count on a few minutes per nap of protest a day for a between few days to a week or so.
Q – Will baby’s discomfort make mom and dad feel discomfort?
A – You bet!
The thought of leaving our beautiful baby to cry on her own in order to help her get into a good routine is such a hard thing for so many of my parents. I guess it will always be this way. It’s the way we are wired.
I completely understand. I was there. I hated the idea of leaving this new love of my life, Rori, to niggle in her cot on her own for longer than a few seconds. What if this is a time when she needs my reassurance, love and warmth? I couldn’t stand the thought of Rori feeling abandoned – even for a minute.
A good thing to remember is that any stress relating to the short time it takes to sleep train a child is based much more on the worry of the parents than anything else.
This anxiety, however, is very real. Without support it can be a most stressful experience. I take the support of my parents during these times very seriously and I work with you to keep you grounded and focused.
I can promise you, though, that once baby starts sleeping independently it will ease your anxiety enormously. It is totally worth it.
Why is he crying?
Babies cry for all sorts of reasons:
– Wet/Dirty nappy
– Need to burp
-Need for Attention
– Pain (sore tummy, teething, etc.)
– Over-tired or overstimulated
IMPORTANT: I will teach you how to meet of all these above needs BEFORE baby goes down to sleep.
Therefore, if all baby’s needs have been taken care of, why is he crying? I promise you it’s the discomfort of experiencing a form of change from what he is used to. It’s different. It’s uncomfortable.
If he is used to eating himself to sleep, or being rocked to sleep, or has been sleeping in bed with mommy, etc., then he will be a little grumpy and will protest about being put down to sleep in a different environment. Wouldn’t you?
Let him learn!
This short period of wakefulness (potential discomfort) before baby falls asleep is the very necessaryopportunity he needs to help himself learn to fall asleep independently. It is also an essential tool to learn how to self sooth.
Remember he is only being left alone for a few minutes at a time. He’s shouting because he’s just a bit annoyed. After a few minutes he’ll realise that actually he’s pretty tired, and if he just closes his eyes for a little while… zzzzzzzzzz.
Trust me! As long as your baby is not ill, has a full tummy, has had enough awake time, is clean, is not over stimulated or over-tired, etc. – he WILL be sleepy. He WILL fall asleep on his own.
Mommy and Daddy are right here
I would never tell anyone to leave their baby crying for long periods of time. It is important that baby feels secure and knows that mommy or daddy are not far away.
When we are at this phase of teaching our children to fall asleep independently it is NOT a case of putting your baby into their crib or their room, closing the door, and leaving them till the next day.
That is not the reality of what I recommend or what parents typically do.
My parents are taught a very respectful approach to sleep training, respecting the need to learn something new and perhaps tricky to start with while providing comfort, support and reassurance throughout that process.
Supporting baby through negative feelings
Much of the current culture is of the mindset that children should not be crying, and that it is our job as parents to make them stop.
However, research shows that supporting them through negative feelings rather than always replacing or rescuing them from them, is a path towards healthy development.
Here are some very interesting facts about crying in general:
- Crying flushes out unhealthy toxins.
- Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system thereby creating a self-soothing mechanism. This process begins after several minutes of the soothing effects of crying.
- Crying releases endorphins providing a sense of calm and wellbeing.
- Crying supports us working through negative emotions.
- Crying can help bring balance to our children’s emotions as they regulate with our support.
For those who might still be feeling a bit cautious, I suggest you speak to your paediatrician about whether sleep training is okay for your child or not. You will see it isn’t controversial among the scientific community or the medical professions.
We’re all in agreement that adequate sleep is essential to the health and well-being of everyone in the family unit, and that teaching your baby some independent sleep skills is safe and effective, whether it’s week five or week 55.
I have written many blogs on sleep training. Please check them out if you are still feeling uncertain. Alternatively, please contact me and let’s have a chat.
It is my desire to work alongside you to improve your child’s sleep habits. Yes, this may be met with tears as baby learns how to master this new skillset of sleep. I am confident, however, that you will be able to successfully provide the support and reassurance she needs through this change.
Please remember that sleep training is a very short term process with huge rewards for everyone in the family.
You could be closer to a full night’s rest than you even realise…trust me!