07914921222 deb@savvytotsleep.com

We’ve had lot’s of enquires from parent’s of very young babies asking this question. When is it too early and when is it too late?

The answer is it depends very much on your baby and your parenting style. Some little cherubs instinctively know how to sleep while other’s take a lot, lot longer. To a certain extent this is under genetic control BUT there is a lot you can do as parents to encourage consolidated sleep. Sleep teaching is a process that requires parental persistence and consistency.

We find many parents give up at the first hurdle or feel guilty for letting their baby cry (just a little) before sleep. In a quest to keep the peace it’s all too easy to continue feeding baby to sleep to avoid the guilt we feel when we listen to our baby’s protests.

We always say that if you took the guilt out of parenting – it would be easy. From popular press we have learned that everything we do with our baby/child will have consequences for their future emotional/mental well being.

Both of us have been caring for families for over 30 years (that’s over 60 years between us!) and have yet to fully understand why folks “turn out” like they do. We know of parents who grew up in a seemingly loving home who have turned to addiction, criminality or had mental health problems. We can tell you that truly neglectful parenting will have implications on a person’s future emotional well being. Over the years we have seen repeeated cycles in families that make this a conslusive statement. The alternative is over protective parenting. This is when a child has no or inconsistent boundaries – in other words “spoiled”.

These two extremes of parenting are thankfully rare. Most of us muddle through each stage of our child’s life with joy, laughter and the odd grey hair. We are the “middle grounder’s” who want the best for our child but understand that –

LOVING = SAYING NO (in our child’s best interest).

Setting boundaries for LO’s helps them develop into social human beings who can give and take, listen and learn and have a code of life to lean on when the going get’s tough. It’s all about parents teaching their children right from wrong.

Setting boundaries around sleep and teaching LO’s positive sleep patterns is as much a parental responsibilty as teaching a child to say “please” and “thank you”. So – why do parents struggle when it comes to teaching sleep?

We think it’s because sleep is the first boundary parent’s need to teach.

How can we say “no” to our beautiful dependent baby? Surely they are happier being rocked, held and fed to sleep without the need for crying (just a little).

We agree that newborns and in the early weeks babies need lot’s of reassurance coping with their new environment. We encourage you to love, cuddle, bond and above all enjoy your new baby. Skin to skin contact, having a bath with dad and holding your baby close so that you can smell each other – all help baby settle into a new world.

Teaching healthy sleep patterns as with all social skills is a process – it takes time. Sleep needs change dramatically over the first year of life. However social cues given by parents play a very important part in your baby’s ability to learn to sleep well.

Here are a few suggestions;

1. Be aware that due to hormanal influences most babies are sleepy in the first 2 – 3 weeks post birth.

2. Start a simple bed time routine as early as you like – from around 4 weeks is ideal.

3. Remember our circadian rhythms are governed by night and day. Make sure baby has a daily dose of natural light.

4 When you feel able follow the well reputed E.A.S.Y routine developed by the Baby Whisperer (tracey Hogg). This stands for;

EAT
AWAKE TIME
SLEEP TIME
YOU TIME

In other words you are breaking the feed to sleep cycle. Breaking the feed to sleep cycle is one of the most important things you can do to help create health sleep habits. DON’T WORRY if you don’t achieve this until baby is 3 – 4 months old, particualrly with a breast fed baby. Just keep trying to put your baby into the crib awake – talk or sing soflty to your baby. Stroke him or place your comforting hand on his/her tummy. Teaching your baby to self settle at this stage will save the heartache of leaving an older baby/child to learn this self taught skill.

5. Always use black out blinds – we mean block out every last bit of light.

6. Be guided by your baby’s sleepy cues. If you’re uncertain about these be guided by average awake times according to your baby’s age. Try a gentle “wind down” time to help baby become relaxed and drowsy. In other words give him/her the opportunity to nap /sleep

7. Be realistic about baby’s developmental needs. Get your head around the idea that most babies need night feeds until they are at least 6 months of age. Sharing these with your partner or anyone else will give mum a break.

8. Encourage a regular “wake up” time. This “wake up” time sets the body clock for the day (and night sleep).

THE KEY STAGE TO START TEACHING YOUR BABY CONSOLIDATED SLEEP IS 3 – 4 MONTHS (as long as your baby was full term and having expected weight gain)

This is because most babies have worked out night from day at this stage and can consolidate a 5 – 6 hour stretch of sleep at night. Your baby may protest for a few minutes (cry!) BUT we can assure you that a few minutes of crying at this stage will help baby learn to self settle.

If it really hurts your heart listening to your crying baby talk to them, sing to them – your presence will help them through the process of learning to self settle. But remember that once your baby has got the hang of self settling “speed up” the need for your presence or baby will likely need your presence as a prop to go to sleep.

As parents you are setting boundaries in your baby’s best interest.

You know that LOVING = SAYING NO