How do babies and children sleep
When we think about sleep, I mean really think about how babies sleep, the images, and thoughts it conjures up, We can see how we have become accustomed to believe that we must train our little ones to sleep and self soothe in order for us to get a decent nights sleep.
This is a relatively new idea that we have taken onboard as our truth. The truth we see requires us to disconnect from our children in order for them to learn independence.
Here are the facts about your baby and how they sleep
Once we learn the facts about how babies sleep, through scientific research combined with attachment theories, we are then able to support our new babies sleep in a much more holistic way.
How many of us have reflected on our childhood and remembered times when we were desperate for connection, for our parents to just “hear” us.
I know I have had those moments. Don’t get be wrong, I don’t blame my parents as they were bought up to believe they needed to ignore us during night time hours. Back then this was normal, but then research into how babies sleep was only just beginning.
Sleep and parenting work together as a relationship of connection and communication, and this can begin from the moment your newborn baby arrives home.
You cannot control sleep, no matter how hard you try.
Sleep is not a conscious action, you cannot coax, force or make someone fall asleep if they just don’t need to sleep.
What is under your control is setting healthy habits and sleep associations that support your lifestyle.
At times, you may feel that this is not helping. When your baby wakes several times or your toddler comes in to tell you their life story for the 7th time that night!
Trust me, with your consistency, the foundations and habits are being conditioned within their DNA and they will fall in to place. For some this happens earlier than for others.
Never compare your child with another.
You literally cannot compare how your baby sleeps with your best friends baby.
I can guarantee that the conditions will be totally different and will not 100% match.
Rather take your time, take a moment of reflection and ask yourself “is there anything going on that I could change to make sleep easier to achieve?”
Ideas to consider when supporting your child to sleep
Do they have medical needs, colic? Reflux? Allergies? Would a trip to the doctors ease any medical symptoms?
Are they hungry?
cold or hot?
Could they be missing you?
Is it developmental?
Something hindering a healthy sleep environment?
Have a think about these questions and if any could apply, make a few small adjusts to see if it improves the night times.
Babies and toddlers wake at night, and this is normal, common, and protective.
Your child's sleep cycles
Short sleep cycles, more time in REM sleep,(easy to wake) the need for frequent feeds, and the need for touch and connection are some of the many reasons little ones wake at night.
Sleeping lightly is biologically protective for babies, it enables them to alert parents to any dangers, or immediate needs.
How your baby sleeps will go up and down during the first few years in response to other areas of development or outside factors.
Know that if your little one has been sleeping in a certain way consistently for a few months and they suddenly blip, this is most likely developmental (unless you know of a particular trigger that has happened just before the sleep blip) or medical.
Supporting your baby to sleep is biologically normal
This includes nursing, rocking, and holding to sleep. Little ones are hard wired to need touch, closeness, and connection to feel safe and secure enough to sleep well. Use these tools if they work for you.
You can choose to change them when they no longer fit in with your lifestyle. It is ok to change anything if it no longer works for either of you, and you can do this gently and respectfully.
Humans are also social sleepers so the need to stay connected to you at night is evolutionarily hardwired, plus babies learn responses and actions just by being close with you.
Babies and you children cannot self soothe independently
To self-soothe, requires you to be able to consciously regulate or control your emotions.
This is a skill that develops naturally over time though positive associations and connections with close caregivers.
Babies do not have the necessary brain development to regulate their emotional state, this usually occurs during the late preschool years and continues developing throughout childhood and into adulthood.
There will be many factors that affect how tired you are as a parent not solely down to the way your baby sleeps.
Work on your mindset to reverse negative thoughts and associations. Take care of yourselves to enable you to parent to your very best.
To support and nurture with love certainly takes away parental guilt and allows you to work in sync with your inner maternal instinct.
Yes there will be times when you question yourself, that will always be. But I know one thing for certain you made your way to this blog because you care and want to do the best you can and I’m also pretty sure, you already are!
I hope I have taken a little pressure off with this blog, but if you feel like you need further help you can view your options via my website.
Baby & You sleep
Holistic sleep coach
Baby wellbeing practitioner