Sleep is something most parents want a little more of. Are you one of them? Follow these top tips to improve your sleep without sleep training.
There is a multitude of ways to encourage your little one to sleep better without formal sleep training. In fact, much to the surprise of most of my clients, formal methods are a last resort for me during a consultation. I aim to investigate your little one holistically, thoroughly and in doing so hopefully I can pinpoint the potential causes of your sleep battles. I aim to offer gentle and responsive techniques before we jump into anything too dramatic. And plenty of times we haven’t even needed to ‘sleep train’ to enhance their sleep.
Firstly, I want recognise there is no judgement needed in this space. No one wants to sleep train their child. Sometimes it becomes a necessity as a family reaches breaking point due to prolonged sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep is a torture and I 100% support any family’s decision to prioritise mental health and family wellbeing.
The first thing you need to determine is what is YOUR problem.
Forget what the perfect families on Instagram/Facebook/even your mothers’ group are (often falsely) portraying. Think about you and your baby. Is there a problem?
The best piece of advice I can offer is you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. The old saying “if it isn’t broken don’t try to fix it” is true in this discussion. Decide what your issue is and how you want to fix it.
If you are desperate for a little more sleep then you need to look at how you want to change it. Try these simple tips to help your baby sleep better, reduce any sleep issues and potentially avoid sleep training altogether.
1) Bedtime routine
Children thrive in routine. Bedtime routines have been shown to enhance the wellbeing and development of a child (read research article here) (more research available here). A short, simple and predictable pattern of 30 minutes or less could dramatically improve your night. Read our bedtime routine blog here to find out what your bedtime routine should look like. -- Our bedtime routine blog --
2) Into bed awake
The phenomenon of drowsy but awake can be a hard one to tackle. There is a fine line between drowsy and fast asleep. Blink and you may have missed it. Instead I recommend putting your child into bed awake. Allowing them the opportunity to self-settle WILL help their long term sleep. The more you do to get them to sleep the more they will need you to do at every sleep and wake up.
3) Pause before entering their room
It is a natural instinct as a parent to go to our child at the very first sign of them waking. Every single wake up does not always demand our attention. Your little one may be dreaming, shuffling in bed, having natural (but noisy) brief awakenings. This is normal. Babies communicate with us through crying. But not all crying is bad. But we need to learn to read our child’s cry to hear what they are communicating with us. A pause before entering gives us that opportunity to listen, to hear if baby really needs us. I encourage responsive settling- when your baby is actively crying we always go to them. It is what we do when we go that matters.
4) Remove all sleep associations that are not working for you.
There is no such thing as a "bad" sleep associations. If it is working for you, don't change it. But if things are feeling unsustainable and you want to make changes we need to assess how baby is falling asleep. Your child has learnt to expect certain conditions in order to fall asleep. Be it a dark room, white noise, patting, rocking, a dummy or a feed. The more you do to get your baby to sleep the more they will ask of you whenever they wake. To encourage sleep independence try to LAYER your sleep habits. Add more in for 1-2 days... then gradually remove the sleep association that was causing the issue. For example, add a pat and shhh to a baby who is fed to sleep. Remove the feed to sleep and continue the shh and pat. Each night do less shh and pat. Within 3 nights baby has forgotten the feed to sleep!
Potential clients contact me and are often at the point where they have tried everything and seen no success. Many are riddled with guilt at the thought of sleep training their child. I first want to remove this guilt. Sleep is an issue for the WHOLE family. Sleep is AS IMPORTANT as food or water for us all. When we are deprived of sleep we are not functioning at our potential. Whatever you decide to do, it needs to be right for you and for the right reasons. There are many misconceptions about sleep training and the work of a sleep consultant. Sleep training doesn’t need to be traumatic for you or your baby. I offer personalised support to help you through the thick of information and advice and get the sleep solutions you need.
As your sleep consultant we have a mutual goal to ensure you have better sleep, a happier family and healthy sleep habits. No matter what you decide... Trust your instinct. Try these tips, and if you are still struggling then contact me to get the sleep you deserve.
AND REMEMBER MAMMA;
YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB
If the thought of doing it alone fills you with fear know Tessa can support you to gently ease your little one to healthy sleep habits. You don't have to do it alone. Book a free 15minute call today to see how we can help tackle your sleep issues without compromising your parenting style
Mindell JA; Telofski LS; Wiegand B; Kurtz ES. A nightly bedtime routine: impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood. SLEEP 2009;32(5):599–606. LINK HERE
Mindell JA; Li, AM; Sadeh, A; Kwon, R. Bedtime routines for young children; a dose dependent association with sleep outcomes. SLEEP, 2015; 38 (5); 717–722. LINK HERE
Sleep deprivation is torture. Tessa Gow is a midwife and certified sleep consultant working with families across the globe. She offers nurturing methods with lasting results. Let her be the support and guidance you need to get through this. On the other side of a consultation with Enhance Sleep is rested, functioning families. Take the first step towards healthy sleep by contacting me today.