27 Aug How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?
This is a question that we receive daily and it is actually difficult to answer, as it is necessary to go into specific details. When parents ask this question, we know that they are looking for a quick, concise and time-based answer: “in two weeks”, “when he turns one year old” or “when he begins to eat solids.” We wish the answer were that simple, but there are many factors to consider and a few things to understand.
Humans sleep in cycles, ranging from light sleep to deep sleep and vice versa. Occasionally when we enter the light sleep stage of a cycle and hear a noise, our dog for example or just if we move around a bit, that little distraction is enough to wake us up.
As adults, we’ve experienced this thousands of times, so we just settle in and go back to sleep. Most of the time, the awakening is so brief that we don’t even remember it the next day.
But for babies who are used to being rocked, held or breastfed to sleep, waking up at night requires external help to return them to a peaceful sleep, that is, we parents must assist them so that they can go back to sleep.
When we understand this, the question now is: when will my baby be able to sleep independently, without external props? The answer to this is: your baby will learn to sleep without external props when they learn how to do so. When you teach your little one to sleep on his own, he will be able to use this ability multiple times a night, every night, for the rest of her life.
Now, there’s more than just putting your baby in his crib and letting him figure it out on his own. This traditional approach has worked for many families, but it is not the gentlest or most effective way to teach your child sleep skills. This approach is as if you left your child in front of a piano with some sheet music and said: “Figure it out.” Eventually, maybe you child will figure it out, but it’s probably best to get some lessons.
Our approach, as with any skill a child needs to learn, requires practice. There is probably going to involve a little resistance when trying to make a change in your baby´s sleep, but you will always be there to guide your baby. However, what you should not do is sit at the piano and play it for them. Obviously, that doesn’t teach them anything. So, whatever you normally do to get your child to sleep, like breastfeeding, sucking, rocking or sleeping with him in his bed, it’s the equivalent of you playing the piano instead of teaching your child.
When transitioning to a new habit of healthy sleep, your child may feel confused, but with lots of love, patience, support and practice from your part, he will learn this skill that will contribute to his growth, learning, social performance and physical health, which translates into wellness for your family.