Sleep & settling
What is the best sleep training technique? A question I get asked all the time but one which doesn’t necessarily have a simple answer. I say this a lot (because its true!) no two babies are the same and so of course, this rule must be applied to how we settle our babies. One sleep aid might help one baby but another may opt for something completely different. Not all techniques will sit right with you and your choice of parenting. The reassuring thing, you’re not in this alone! So many people ask these questions and seek out advice and/or reassurance.
My general rule of thumb is to first to ask yourselves these three questions:
- Are the suggestions you have been offered (or thinking about trying) evidence based?
- Does it sit comfortably with me that I am nurturing my baby’s development both physically and emotionally? (ie: our attachment and growing relationship with each other).
- Before we “label our baby as having a sleep issue”, be kind to yourselves and your baby – are there other things going on in the family that impacts all of your sleeping habits? For example, moving house, visitors staying over, time out to recharge your own battery?
Once you have answered these questions honestly as an individual but also as part of a couple then these three tips below may just help:
- Look at your sleep setup – is the bassinet / cot / bed meeting SIDS guidelines? Is the room temperature ok? Is it dark enough?
- Think about your babies patterns – how long is their awake window? How do they fall to sleep? (Block out what your friends, family and busy bodies say your baby should be doing!).
- Ask yourself and anyone else looking after your child ‘What do we feel comfortable doing? What feels right for how we want to raise our child?
So what are these techniques?
In the first six months
In the first six months of a babies life, your littlest love needs to wake at night to receive enough food for growth and development. For most babies, sleeping ‘through the night’ and settling by themselves comes later, when they’re developmentally ready.
However, there are routines you can start to put into practice for when your baby is ready for assistance. This is where a sleep routine can come into play.
You may have heard of the “feed, play, sleep” routine. A routine like this can help your baby begin to create a regular sleep pattern. There are slight tweaks for a day time routine and a night time routine.
Here is one way a day time routine could look. Your baby wakes up from a nap and you could then;
- Offer them a feed.
- Burp them.
- Nappy change / nappy free time play.
- Introduce some play time whether this be talking, cuddles or playing such as reading a book, playing with toys, singing songs with them.
- When baby shows signs of tiring (ie. yawning, rubbing eyes) it’s time for sleep.
At night, you might make a slight alteration to this by trying to settle your baby back to sleep when they wake up or if they are hungry offering them a feed and popping them back into bed without a play. An element of flexibility will need to be used when starting with this routine as babies certainly make the rules!
The nights can be long and everything seems harder at night. You will get through this mum and dad. However, you don’t have to do this alone. If you have any questions or wish to discuss further why not reach out to me and we can discuss sleep and settling routines specific to your baby? Email me via firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 0409 966 672.
You can also check out my sleep and settling workshop and private consultations here.