I get asked a lot about my sleep training methods and what is involved so I think it’s time for a blog on this very topic.
We see sleep training as being harsh and punitive, denying love and comfort. When we say or read the words sleep training, our mind often jumps to images of controlled crying and crying it out. The next jump we do is to images of abandoned babies in Eastern European orphanages like we’ve witnessed in the past on TV.
In my practice as a baby sleep guru I’ve discovered that being kind and providing comfort actually gives better results and is a win for both baby and parent. Sleep training can be gentle. If we always have the research for attachment parenting, at the forefront of any sleep program, we would help a lot more babies and their families. My specific methods are based on psychological theory and are behavioural in approach. They have also been adapted further to include cuddles, love and ultimately respect for the parent-infant relationship whilst establishing healthy sleep routines.
There are many types of sleep training varying from crying it out and controlled crying to various attachment parenting models.
There is never ‘a one-size fits all’ approach. Babies, like ourselves’ are all different and to group them all together with the one method is fraught with difficulty and often failure.
We all like things done in a particular way often relating to our personality styles, learning styles and our neuro-linguistic programming.
My methods look at the baby and sleep holistically. I’m a nurse, midwife, specialist community practitioner with a degree in psychology. I have a diploma in baby yoga and am a certified infant massage instructor. I apply all this knowledge to every baby. In order to identify and solve a sleep problem it’s so important to look at it holistically. We need to look at feeding, solids, the balance of nutrition, developmental skills and whether these are sequential or need some help and instruction to move them along. We also need to look at environment. Is the sleep space conducive for restful sleep? How is the baby feeling emotionally? Where are they in their process of becoming an individual. What is their temperament? Got the idea? It’s big, really big. That’s why my success rates are very good. I look at everything. I’m Miss Marple of the baby sleep world with a lot of common sense, a very analytic brain and a whole lot of love with a very kind heart.
To take a model of sleep training and then apply it to every baby will never work. As adults and parents we all appreciate the individual touch and to have our feelings, wants, needs and desires to be considered. To fail to take into account the individual, risks us disrespecting the baby and aren’t our babies the most precious gift in our world? As adults once our individual needs are considered we feel heard and so we are more likely to do what is being asked of us.
I liken sleep training to all other aspects of parenting. It involves ‘doing the dance’ or as we also know it, as attunement. Once your baby feels heard and understood they respond so much better to sleep training but it’s important that the training is sensitive to the individual and respects them.
I NEVER DO CONTROLLED CRYING. And yes I do cuddles, lots of them. If you cuddle a baby or child when they’re distressed and sleep training no matter how gentle will have some crying. There is no such thing as a ‘no cry sleep solution’, no matter how great the book’s title and promise. When we are changing things that makes a baby feel uncomfortable and so they will vent. It’s normal and healthy and it needs to happen to move on and learn to sleep well. This happens even when you’re in the room with them and holding their hand sat right by the cot. The majority of my methods involve staying in the room next to the baby, attending to their emotions and needs and providing support and comfort.
A lot of my clients are psychologists by background. I think that speaks volumes. I have a degree in Psychology and in the UK where I trained as a Specialist Community Practitioner – Health Visiting we were trained by psychologists to provide psychological interventions to babies, children and families.
It’s about what cry you respond to, when you stay in the room, how long to wait before you go in etc. These individual things are so important and are the difference between success and failure. It’s taken me 15 years but I’ve fine tuned my methods so well now that I know how and when to do sleep training and these individual differences are evident in my successful sleepers. Soon you’ll have the opportunity to read about my methods and try them for yourself. That sleep book is coming along nicely…and I’m ever so excited about it.
On the right this is Bridget and Harry demonstrating one of my methods. Kind and respectful? I think so.