If you are struggling to get your baby to sleep through the night, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We know it can be HARD. And when you feel like you have tried everything, we know it can feel relentless. You’re exhausted. Defeated. Overwhelmed. You’re just not you.
‘Better Sleep Month’ is all about encouraging people to seek and establish better, healthier sleeping patterns. So what better time is there than now to take a moment and virtually hug, empower and support all our sleep deprived parents out there! It WILL get better, we promise you.
First, stop telling yourself you’ve messed up. That’s just the exhaustion talking, coupled up with the obligatory mom guilt that we all know and hate. Just because your friend’s baby is sleeping 11 hours a night at nine months, doesn’t mean you have done it all wrong. There is no ‘one size fits all’ way to do this. No two babies are wired the same.
Second, it is never too late to fix it. Good sleep habits can be learned at any age says Jen Varela, our wonderful friend and Sleep Coach, be it six months or five years old.
Under the age of six months, we are not talking about sleep training, but sleep shaping. This is all about sleep hygiene and simply identifying the methods used to get baby to sleep. From around three months, small incremental steps can be taken to make adjustments in how your baby sleeps at night – this is because most infants take about 12 weeks to fully produce melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” So for example, instead of nursing him/her to sleep, simply try rocking instead. Don’t worry, baby will let you know if it is too soon to make that change. And if it is, just hit pause on this shift for a little while and then try again.
Sleep training is generally recommended for babies six months or older. This is when you use a specific method, over a period of time, and then start removing ‘sleep crutches’ to enable baby to self sooth and put his/herself to sleep.
Third, let’s be real. There will ALWAYS be tears. There is no getting away from this. But our expert Jen’s goal is always to have as little crying as possible, and to avoid ‘toxic stress.’ She believes there is a big difference between tears in arms and not. If a baby is crying in arms, there is a stress buffer there by way of the nurturing parent, vs. things like the detached ‘cry-it-out’ method. Sleep training needn’t be a battle – it CAN be gentle and successful.
Jen runs regular Gentle Sleep Coaching workshops at our Boutique, so if you feel like you need to get a better idea on methods, or just feel like you need a darn miracle, please register. She may be the Fairy Godmother you have been looking for. We promise you, no question will be a stupid question, and no case is a hopeless one. Stay strong folks – this too shall pass!