Sleep training in babies: what we think
The question always comes up in the prenatal classes that we give to parents when we discuss the portion of sleep in the baby.
"What do you think of sleep training?" I have friends who swear by it but I read that it is bad for my child's brain! "
Alright. First, let's set the table so that we all understand the same thing.
Already, we have to differentiate between a new born and a baby of several months of life.
A baby is not born at all with the same abilities or at the same pace as us, and a newborn baby even less. Our babies are born with very old instinctive brains and their rhythm is devoid of all the influence of our society.
It means thathe hasn't adapted yet to the reality of humans today.
Did you know that before the advent of electricity, our pace was drastically different?
The sun guided our sleep and naps were more frequent, which cut off our working days. Quietly, with the arrival of electricity in our homes and our stores, the opening hours could lengthen, our production time too and this is how we slide towards 9 to 5 with a "good" 8 hour night's sleep.
Babies are born pure, with no understanding of the pace at which their parents pedal. It is important to realize that by "training" our babies to sleep, it is so that this day vs night schedule can continue. For our convenience, not theirs.
So now we have to navigate a world of productivity, with a baby who doesn't give a damn about daddy's schedule.
The needs of the newborn
It is very important that a newborn wakes up frequently in the first weeks of his life. His waking / sleeping rhythm is still fast and he has to eat a few times during the night to keep enough energy for his brain to develop well.
A newborn baby who doesn't wake up naturally after a few hours is unfortunately not good news. The child does not wake up because he is hungry, but because it is his sleep cycle that ends.
A child who does not receive enough energy will tend to sleep very long and have difficulty waking up. It is therefore very hard to stay awake for an effective feed, which makes the problem worse!
The older the baby, the longer the wake / sleep cycles. Eventually, a baby will acclimatize to the rhythm that is proposed to him and "will make his nights". I put this term in quotes because it is rather that the baby "makes OUR nights".
What can I do to make my baby sleep?
Several techniques for falling asleep or training are available online, in books or in conference.
It is true that certain methods can make a lot of stress to your baby. We often think of the 5-10-15 which has now become popular. It consists of letting your baby cry for 5 minutes before going to comfort him, then 10 and then 15.
This method is often criticized by naming the fact that the baby does not conceptualize time like us. Crying like this without knowing if someone will come to pick us up causes it to secrete a lot of the hormone cortisol. stress.
Although this technique of falling asleep can give satisfactory results according to parents, it may take a while for the baby to get used to this method.
It is not the softest method nor the most recommended by us.
The First Moments philosophy
We believe it is much easier to adapt to the reality of our baby than trying to train him to experience something else. Let us remember where it came from and what it needs to develop well.
A baby expresses a need - this need is met - the baby feels satisfied and happy - his nervous system is calm - he is able to assimilate the rest of the sensations and novelties around him.
A baby who lives on cortisol, who is often far away or separated from his parents, does not develop the same way. The fear will be more central in its interactions with the world. How do I know if someone will catch me if I hurt myself? I'd better stay here.
A baby falling asleep at the breast will be able to fall asleep elsewhere.
A baby that is often carried will not become a "Baby in arms" unable to be dropped off.
If your baby needs to be carried and breastfed often and only sleeps in your arms, it's not because you did it wrong.
First, it doesn't matter. Second, your baby is not manipulating you - he is expressing his needs to you. Third, their needs are valid and as a parent it is up to you to understand and meet them.
You wouldn't say to an adult: no, stay alone and manage your sentence without me.
We would tend to want console adults and listen to them and offer them empathy and kindness. Why do otherwise for a baby who wakes up at night and is scared, or cold, or miss you?
The child registers cause and effect throughout the day.
If I cry, someone comes to see me. If I put my hands to my mouth, they give me the breast.
There will come a time when your child can wake up at night without being afraid, but it is important to seize the moment and it can come after several months.
We wrote a postpartum blog post and how proximal parenting can save energy and time. If you haven't given birth yet or your baby is very young, check it out!
Yes, but what if my baby can't sleep at all?
Routine, repetition and patience are baby friends. If your baby is not sleeping at all, wakes up in 20-40 minutes and the whole family is surrounded, you need to dig a little.
Did you come looking for a recipe for sleep? Sorry, it's more complex than that.
It is important to understand why your baby cannot sleep. This will give you the right tools to help them. Sometimes it's just a reorganization of your routine or your environment.
Regardless, we have you recommend talking to a sleep pro. You can contact us to talk about it and have good resources in your area. We can also often help!
Lack of sleep is a real challenge for many parents. If you can't get your sleep during the day like your child does, ask for home help by professionals or friends and family.
Ne don't stay alone in your shadow of fatigue and take care of yourself, the road can be long. But all roads eventually lead to bed!
Founder of the Les Premiers Moments team
Doula and naturopath in perinatal careté