1. We want families to know what infant sleep truly looks like and that waking in the first year and beyond is normal.
Babies are designed to be dependent on us, day and night. Babies wake up to call for us for many reasons and these reasons often do not disappear at 12 months. Babies might wake due to hunger, being too hot, being too cold, discomfort, needing connection and more. Sleeping through the night truly is the exception, not the norm! Waking through the night is not only common, but also developmentally normal.
2. We want families to feel good about being responsive to their children throughout the night, they’re teaching their children they can depend on them.
If you trust your instincts and follow your heart, you cannot go wrong. When we continually show up for our children we are teaching them that they can depend on us to be the answer for them. Allowing dependence from our children makes it possible for them to confidently move forward towards independence when they are ready. Being responsive does not mean you are creating bad habits, you are simply being there for your child.
3. We want families to know that parenting their child to sleep is amazing and if they love it they should always do it!
Our babies grow so fast and our little ones won’t want us to snuggle them to sleep forever. If you enjoy the baby snuggles or the moments where your toddler wraps their arms around you and smuggles you in kisses… what do you have to feel guilty about? Do whatever works for your family! Most of the families we work with are parenting their children to sleep and they are still able to make changes so that everyone can get more sleep. We both parent our children to sleep and with some exception they are able to sleep through the night on their own.
4. We want families to know that many babies and toddlers NEED to be parented to sleep and that doing so is not a bad thing.
Children are not meant to be away from the people they are attached to. Separation is difficult for them and nighttime brings it with quite a large separation. Knowing this, it only makes sense that our children need us to be present and intentional at bedtime so that we can give them something to hold onto through the night. When we are intentional at bedtime, we can help bridge the separation until our next connection with our children in the morning.
5. We want families to know the only negative sleep associations are those that no longer work for your family.
Sleep associations are anything that your child equates with going to sleep. Associations help us (adults too!) to transition from awake to asleep as we unwind at the end of the day. If what you are doing is working for you and helps your child transition at bedtime, it is anything but negative! You can make a change to sleep associations whenever you feel ready, but please do not feel pressured to change something that is working for you because you are worried about sleep crutches or creating bad habits.
6. We want families to know that babies are unique and often don’t follow the patterns laid out in baby sleep books.
Please don’t spend hours trying to rock your baby to sleep in a dark room just because a generic age based schedule told you to. You will likely be left feeling defeated and frustrated (which your baby will pick up on) when you could have been enjoying some time with your baby. Learn your baby’s cues, trust yourself to know what they need.
7. We want families to know it’s okay to make a change if something no longer works for you and your family.
Just because something has been working for your family up until now, does not mean you shouldn’t make a change when things are no longer working. Our babies grow and change, and their needs may change. Just because something has stopped working does not mean you have done anything wrong or created a sleep crutch. Tune into your baby’s needs and adjust as needed!
8. We want families to know that sleep training is not the only way to solve a sleep challenge and you don’t need to do it to get your family feeling rested again.
It IS possible to get more sleep without sleep training. By taking a holistic approach to sleep we can get the root of why your child is not sleeping, rather than addressing sleep as a behaviour. By ensuring the foundations of sleep are in place, examining medical red flags, and ensuring we have a strong understanding of attachment and emotion, families can get more sleep without using separation based techniques.
9. We want families to know that a secure attachment with at least one caregiver is way more important than consolidated sleep for a child.
As Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D states, the biggest predictor of how a child turns out is whether they have a secure attachment with at least one person. Sleeping through the night is not a determining factor in who your child will grow to be. In order for babies to eventually become independent they need to first be dependent on someone that they have a secure attachment with. When it comes to sleep, we often need to take the focus off of sleep and place it on attachment and relationship.
10. We want families to know that your instincts are better for your baby than any experts or sleep books will ever be.
You know your baby better than anyone else. Your intuition is the most powerful parenting tool you have. The more you trust yourself, the more confidently you can lead your child. If you don’t feel comfortable with what others are telling you, it is okay to continue to inform yourself so you can make the best decision for your child, you are your child’s best advocate. You truly are the best parent there is for your child!