Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Alternatives to sleep training

Living Outside the Box
17 October
It can be hard when you feel pressured to have your baby sleeping through the night, but you do not have to leave your baby to cry. Here are a few alternative things to try:

● Feed on demand. Baby may be just hungry or thirsty. Breastfeeding is also a great comfort for your little one and can help them feel safe in your arms. If you bottle feed then take the opportunity to have a quiet cuddle and look into the sleepy eyes of your baby.

● Co sleep - either read up on safe cosleeping and bring baby into bed, or push their cot up against your bed so you can cuddle and comfort baby without feeling too pressed for space. Cosleeping has been shown to be very safe, but may not be suitable for you if any adult in the bed smokes or is sleeping abnormally deeply, perhaps due to alcohol or medication. Memory foam mattresses are not recommended as they can make it hard for baby to lift their head or roll over and try to keep pillows and quilts away from baby too. An infant sleeping bag can be good to keep your little one warm without needing a duvet over them.

● Remember that at six months old your baby has spent more time in the womb than outside it and they are still adjusting. The tiredness can feel overwhelming but it is a short period in the scheme of things.

● You will not look back at this time and regret giving your baby an extra cuddle. You might look back and regret withholding the cuddle.

● Ask for help. If you have family or friends nearby then there will usually be someone willing to cuddle your baby while you have a nap.

● If you don't have other children to watch then sleep when baby sleeps. We are told this when we have a newborn but it doesn't have to stop at 6 months or 1 year.
● If you have a 'high needs' baby, don't despair. Small cried a lot despite our best efforts to comfort him, and it can feel as though you cannot help your baby, but it has been shown that crying in arms is less harmful than a baby crying alone. Even though they are still upset, your baby knows you are present.

● If implementing a gentle routine will reassure you then try the 'No Cry Sleep Solution' by Elizabeth Pantley and read articles by Dr William Sears or Pinky McKay.

● Remember that 'sleeping through the night' is usually accepted to mean 'sleeping for five hours solid', not sleeping 7pm to 7am!

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