Supporting your baby to sleep in any way, usually by rocking, cuddling or feeding them to sleep in something that provides a bonding experience and also a way to help your baby get to sleep. This type of support is wonderful while it is working and can bring both parents/carers and their baby's comfort. But what do you do when it stops working? Or it's causing more issues around sleep than its helping?
IF IT'S WORKING
If supporting your baby to sleep, whether by rocking, cuddling, feeding or any other way, is working for you, then there is absolutely no need to stop any of these if you don't want to. Also when your baby is newborn and in the fourth trimester, these are some of the best ways to bond with your baby and help them achieve sleep - and you achieve sleep too! These methods can work long term and often never cause an issue with other areas of sleep.
IF IT'S NOT WORKING
Sometimes these ways of helping baby to drift off start to hinder sleep. Either because they rouse when you place them down to sleep, or it prevents them falling back to sleep independently when they wake between sleep cycles which if this is happening multiple times a night, can be exhausting for those who are implementing the support.
Sleep associations can range from having a dummy to fall asleep, rocking or feeding to sleep etc and if they rouse in the night and these aren't available, it may cause them to wake fully until the sleep association is implemented to help them get back to sleep. If you want to help them fall back to sleep independently, removing this sleep association and in the short term looking at alternative setting methods can help.
HOW DO I TACKLE ALTERNATIVE SETTLING?
There are different ways you can look at helping your baby settle to sleep depending on your baby's temperament, their existing sleep association and also your parenting style. Some methods are very hands on and others require a little more independence from your baby. Finding a method that you are comfortable with is important and your baby will likely respond best if you feel comfortable and confident in the method you choose to help them with.
Some methods move gradually and slowly help your baby achieve a bit more independence at night time, where as others move slightly faster and you'll reach that level of independence sooner.
Finding the right method for you and your family is vital an discussing this with a professional can help you choose which you'd like to use and also help you implement it with reassurance.
THE TAKE HOME
There is at no point that you 'have' to teach your child to fall asleep independently and at some point in time, all children will eventually reach this point without doing anything. However, if you are feeling that your night times are unsustainable, stressful and are causing you upset due to lack or sleep, please be reassured that you can help them to settle themselves in a hands on and responsive manner.
Working out your baby or child's sleep needs can be daunting and it can also cause worry that you may disrupt them or make their sleep more unbalanced that it currently is.
This is where working with a professional can help you look at your little one's current schedule, the issues you're facing and where they are in their development and whats going on in their home life and help you to build a schedule that works for your individual.
If you would like more help with your child's sleep I can help create a tailor made plan for your family based on your individual needs. Explore my packages for something that suit you