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Ready to sleep your way into 2018?Happy baby who is well-rested as a new years resolution

As we enter into a new year, I have had a lot of parents reach out to me about supporting them in reaching their 2018 goals. Though I will not be very useful in aiding them with tightening their budget or dropping their baby (hmmm… toddler) weight, assisting with their “get better sleep” resolution is right up my alley!

When chatting with these parents, and other future clients, there is one question that I get asked most frequently – “When will my child sleep through the night?”

This is a difficult question to answer without getting into lots of specific details. This is unfortunate, because when parents ask me this, I know they’re looking for a quick, concise, time-based answer. “Three nights from now,” “At six months old,” or “Once they are in a big kid bed,” are the kind of responses they’re hoping for. Though these are the kind of replies I wish I could give, there are a lot of factors to consider, and some things to understand before you can narrow down the timeline.

Hmmm… Never!

The first thing I feel parents need to understand is this…

Your baby will never sleep through the night.

That’s right! They won’t sleep through the night when they’re toddlers, or when they’re teenagers, or when they’re grown-ups, because nobody ever does! As human beings, we sleep in cycles, which vary from light sleep to deep sleep and back again. Occasionally, when we get into the light sleep stage of a cycle, we hear a noise, or we’re in the middle of a crazy dream, or the dog jumps on the bed, or we just shift a little, and that little thing, whatever it may be, is just enough to wake us up.

As adults, we have experienced this thousands of times, so we just shake it off and go back to sleep. Most of the time, the wake-up is so brief that we don’t even remember it the next day. But for babies who are used to being rocked, sung, bounced or nursed to sleep, waking up in the night requires external help to get back into a peaceful slumber. So that’s the reason why baby’s never going to sleep through the night, but then, that’s not what parents are really asking.

Wait, what? NEVER?!

What parents really want to know is, “When will my baby be able to get back to sleep on their own?” That’s a much easier question to answer. Quite simply, this will happen when they learn how. When you teach your little one to go to sleep on their own, they’ll be able to employ that skill multiple times a night, every night, for the rest of their lives! I hope you are feeling better about things now that you know there is hope!

Now, there’s more to it than just leaving your baby alone in their crib and letting them figure it out for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, that approach has worked for a lot of people, but it’s not one that everybody is comfortable using, and it’s not the gentlest or most effective way of teaching your baby great sleep skills.

The traditional Cry-It-Out approach is a lot like leaving your child in front of a piano with some sheet music and saying, “Figure it out.” Eventually, they just might, and you might just have the Elton John of sleeping on your hands. But assuming your child isn’t gifted in the sleep department (and I’m just assuming they’re not, since you’re reading this), they could probably benefit from some lessons.

Practice makes perfect.

And as with any skill that a child needs to learn, practice is essential, so let them give it a shot. There’s probably going to be a bit of crying, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go in and encourage, comfort and reassure them. What you shouldn’t do, however, is sit down at the piano and play it for them. Obviously, that doesn’t teach them anything.

So whatever it is that you’ve traditionally done to get your child to go to sleep in the evening, or in the middle of the night, you should stop. Whether this is giving them a pacifier, rocking them back to sleep, nursing them, or whatever else. Relying on these “sleep props” is the equivalent of playing the piano for your child to teach them how. They may be frustrated, they may get upset, but they’ll learn with a little time and practice.

So although I can’t give an exact date or age when your baby will go through the night without crying and demanding help to get back to sleep, I can tell you without hesitation that it will be much, much sooner if you stop doing it for them.

As for teaching your little one to play piano, you’re on your own with that one!

 

 

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  1. […] not taught the skills necessary to “sleep through” an uninterrupted night (check out this post to see why no one, even adults, actually “sleep through the night”). As I became more […]

  2. […] But above all, the number one way to help your baby sleep through the night and get past the very early morning wake up is to get her on a predictable, consistent sleep schedule and teach her the skills she needs to fall asleep independently. Because the truth is… You’re never going to prevent nighttime wake ups (and I’d love for you to read more about that here in a blog post I wrote in January)! […]

  3. […] to kick back into gear, which keeps them from falling and staying asleep. You can read more in a recent post of mine about what happens, biologically, when this tiredness sweet spot is missed. A baby who has gotten a […]

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