In a Nutshell:
- Sleep is a family issue, not just a baby issue.
- There is no solution that is right for everyone.
- What we think about sleep is mostly cultural.
- Don't change what is working for you and your baby, even if a book or person says you should.
- Infants under 4 months of age should not be left crying in their bed.
- Infants under 12 months should not be left crying alone.
- Before you do something new, tell your child what is going to change
- Sleep deprivation can make a parent doubt their own intuition.
Sleep is Developmental
My back ground is in child development and education. So my approach comes out of this foundation. Biologically and developmentally infants and toddlers are designed to sleep differently from adults. The nervous system is immature, causing infants to spend a great deal of time in light sleep. The biological sleep system doesn't fully development until sometime between 18 and 24 months. All this, combined with an infants need for large amounts of food, can cause infants to sleep in a way that exhausts the parents.
Sleep is Cultural
Fortunately, sleep is also cultural. Which means, it can be shaped and adjusted. Across time and history, mothers and infants have slept, and slept well, in many different ways. The main trick for any new family, is time find out what way of sleeping is going to work best for them.
What you thought was going to work, may turn out to be the wrong arrangement once you get your baby home. You also may find what was working before doesn't work anymore. Many new parents find themselves caught between what feels right, and what their friends and family are saying.
The Sleep Research
Sleep research is mostly done around safety and sleep amounts. Over the last 10 years more a more research is looking at the important of baby and parent being close while sleeping. They way an infant learns to sleep well is by being support by an adult in the first year.
All the recommendation I make have some basis in research. If we don't have any evidence to support a practice I usually don't recommend it. If I do I make sure to tell you there is not research to back it up. Because I pull from the areas of biology and anthropology as well, I'm able to find more evidence to support why I do what I do.
The Sleep Experience
The most important thing about sleep is that everyone is getting enough. Where and when the sleep happens is, always, of secondary concern. et, how much, when, and where, all affect each other.
I work with families who find themselves in a sleep situation that is no longer working for them.
My goal is to reinsert the intuitive wisdom you would have received from your mother, sisters, aunts, and cousins, if we still lived in small communities of extended families. It was through the experience of being around many mothers and babies, we learned what was normal. And how to support an infant through the normal stages of sleep development.
My Top Tips:
- Never do something new, in the heat of the moment, in the middle of the night. It will likely, cause more problems.
- Always give your child 24 hours notice before implementing change.
- Nighttime needs to as dark as possible all night, and boring. Avoid eye contact and chatter.