None of us wants to see one of our kids sad, upset or in pain. As parents, don’t we all do anything we can to try to ease their suffering and help them feel safe, happy and loved?
I believe that’s where a lot of bad sleep habits can develop – in that space of trying to “love them to sleep”. I know I’m guilty of that with my little guy pre-sleep training and being a sleep consultant. (He was also born with a rare skin condition and I knew he’d be having several major surgeries during his childhood, so I never wanted to make him cry or cause him any additional pain.)
Babies develop bad sleep habits for a variety of reasons, but it usually boils down to two: circumstance (baby getting sick, moving houses, medical conditions/prolonged illness,etc.) and necessity (letting baby sleep on you so everyone can get a few precious hours of sleep in the middle of the night!).
And then one day, you wake up and say, enough is enough. (For us, it was when he was 18 months old and still waking up four times a night, but I so wish I hadn’t waited so long!)
You think, we need to help him learn new habits because this isn’t working for any of us. No one’s getting consolidated sleep, everyone’s sleeping in the wrong place, and there is major crabbiness by all during the day!
It can definitely be a bumpy road until they realize this is just the new, improved way of doing things – a better way to sleep.
For babies who have depended on bottles, breastfeeding and rocking to lull them back to sleep every time they wake up, it can take a while to learn how to do it themselves. They need to develop strategies to self soothe to sleep and to get back to sleep.
One of the side effects of sleep training is that babies can temporarily protest the crib or their room. It’s no wonder… they associate these things with something they don’t like: having to go to sleep on their own! This is a pretty common issue, and many parents experience it when their babies or toddlers start sleep training the right way (read: being consistent for every sleep situation). Some even tell me their babies start to cry the minute they walk into the bedroom!
The good news is that it’s usually very short term. In fact, I often encourage parents to see it as a great thing. It means their child is very smart, and has figured out the order of the bedtime routine and that bedtime is coming! This is not necessarily a happy moment for your child, because she doesn’t know how to do this yet and it’s not what she’s used to. It’s only natural that she’s a little anxious.
With time and practice, though, your little one will master these skills, and will go to bed happily. In the meantime, just be patient and use soft, soothing tones when you put your baby to sleep. Remind him that it’s just bedtime and that everything will be okay. It often takes a very short time for babies to get over this fear and learn to put themselves to sleep.
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Photo credit: Deposit Photos | katrinaelena