Can a young baby really be taught healthy sleep habits??
I am constantly amazed by how many people truly believe the answer to that question is a resounding NO! WOW! Why do so many people believe that teaching a young baby good sleep habits is completely unnatural and just downright mean! I was on a website the other day where this woman had listed “8 reasons to not sleep train“. This woman talked about how horribly sleep deprived she and her baby were for the first year of her childs life but still maintained that not teaching her child good sleep habits was the best decision she could have made because “sleep teaching” or “sleep training” was completely unnatural for a baby. All I could think as I read this is how completely passionate this woman was in her desire to do what was right for her baby but her complete ignorance of the slow, gradual process of instilling healthy sleep habits at an early age, unfortunately caused her to be very limited in her knowledge. She had clearly never experienced the benefits that teaching a young baby to sleep brings to an entire family. Peace, order and REST! What new mom wouldn’t give her right arm for that!
And like most people she assumed that sleep teaching brings with it LOTS of crying! Fortunately that’s not the case at all……
In my many years of teaching babies to sleep I can honestly tell you that there is nothing more rewarding and gratifying then taking a young baby with completely disorganized sleeping and eating patterns, giving them the tools they need to successfully and gradually learn the skill of healthy sleeping habits and then watching that baby start to learn and then eventually begin to thrive! It is not a magic pill, rather it is a slow process of working with a baby within their natural abilities and circadian rhythms and then allowing them to move forward at their own pace. Babies WILL move forward if they are given the proper environment and tools they need to succeed. I find many parents are unknowingly sabotaging their children of the precious sleep that they so desperately need by not really understanding their babies sleep needs or their capabilities. If you understand how to cultivate a baby’s natural ability to sleep you will eventually start to see that baby thrive as good sleep habits become a way of life for them. Intervening too quickly is one of the biggest mistakes many parents make.
I was doing an in home consultation the other day for a two week old baby. I was able to finish feeding the baby her bottle of breast-milk and then a short time later the baby started showing sleepy signs. At this point I showed mom and dad how to properly swaddle their baby (nice and snug with little to no arm movement) and then I proceeded to show them how to lay her down in the crib and help her settle herself. Within 20 seconds the baby was asleep. But the best part was when the baby awoke about 30 minutes later and instead of rushing in and scooping her up I asked them to wait a minute so we could see what the baby would do. I knew 30 minutes was not a long enough nap and I knew that she had been awake way too long before we put her down (almost 2 hours). Yikes! Thats way too long for a newborn to be awake! The parents agreed to wait, even though it was torture for them!….the baby fussed continually for about a minute and then…..Yep, you guessed it! She put herself BACK to sleep! The parents were AMAZED and said they had never seen her do that before. The reason they had never seen it is because they had never waited long enough for it to happen before they had gone in and scooped her up. They just always assumed she couldn’t because she was too young. This exact same thing happened one more time while I was there doing the consult. The parents were yet again amazed at what their baby was capable of doing and were encouraged to see their baby self soothing at such a young age. I however get to see this ALL the time with babies of all ages. It never gets old to watch parents complete amazement as they realize their baby is capable of so much more than they ever dreamed possible!