Do you use any formal sleep training?
No, at My Connected Motherhood we do not use any formal sleep training. Instead, we take an attachment-based approach that is rooted in being responsive, supporting emotion, and following your intuition. We take a holistic approach to sleep which means we take the time to look at investigate all aspects that might be impacting sleep. We consider everything, from sleep environment, medical concerns, family dynamics, feeding and nutrition, sleep science, infant and toddler development, emotional well-being, self-care for parents and so much more. We want to get to the root of why your child is not sleeping and address that as the concern.
Our main focus when supporting families is to guide and empower them to feel confident in helping their children to fall asleep from a place of love, trust and connection. We want parents to feel confident in trusting their instincts and following their heart in being the answer for the child and any needs they may have.
Why don't you use sleep training with the families you support?
There are a few reasons why we do not use sleep training and instead use an approach rooted in attachment.
First, we feel it is very important for parents to understand that you cannot actually teach or train a baby to sleep. Sleep is a biological function and it is not something that is within our conscious control. Have you ever tried really hard to fall asleep? The more we focus on it or force it, the harder it is to fall asleep. This goes for your baby too!
Separation is the most wounding experience for our children. We do not want our children to go to sleep from a place of defensiveness from the fear or stress of separation. Instead, we need to remember that sleep is a vulnerable state and we want our children to go to sleep from a place of love, trust and connection.
Babies biologically wake through the night for many reasons. We want them to call for us when they need us. Sleep training only teaches our children that we will not come when they call. They are not going to sleep because they have self-soothed or because their needs have been met.
Sleep training goes against our instincts. We do not ever want parents to fight their intuition or what feels right. If we are following a strict plan or schedule, you will have to fight your instincts in responding to your baby. It is important to us that parents never feel that their connection with their child is being threatened or compromised. We are passionate about supporting parents through changes while practicing responsive and respectful parenting.
Why do you place so much importance on following my instincts?
A baby's development relies heavily on nature, on a parent trusting their instincts. When a baby is born, their brain is only 20-25% of its adult brain. It is really important to understand what is there - which is an amygdala that is not fully developed but still able to understand and sense fear or go into fight, flight or freeze. Yet, it is also important to understand what is not there. Baby's brains are primitive and a primitive brain needs the support of a mature brain to help it do things like up-regulate and down-regulate. A baby is not born with the systems needed to tell the baby that it needs to replenish and restore its energy when it is burning too much - which is a CRITICAL function for survival. This is why we have something nature created, called the interbrain. The interbrain connected the primitive brain to a mature brain through all of the senses - touch, gaze, smell. So in order for the baby to be able to complete this very important function, a mother must follow her instincts and trust herself to know when the baby needs to be down-regulated. The is something that she will know, not something she will read in a book. The reason that sleep training feel so wrong is that it goes against nature, therefore compromising the interbrain.
Do you help teach babies how to self-soothe?
Self-soothing is a myth! A baby has six states of arousal - being asleep, drowsy, hypo-aroused, calmly focused and alert, hyper-aroused, then flooded. When a baby gets to the point of being hyper-aroused or flooded, they are burning a lot of energy. The only way to help them out of this state is to help them down-regulate and this involves parental support and contact. It is not something that can be done by leaving a baby or child alone. They cannot down-regulate themselves. If a parent does not come in to help them down-regulate in their hyper-aroused state they will go up on the arousal scale, become flooded and at this point, baby is burning so much energy that they fall asleep but because their body is forcing them to sleep as they can no longer sustain the flooded state and are simply exhausted.
Will my baby or child cry?
Yes, when we nudge our children through changes they will often express themselves through tears. We need to remember that tears are communication, not manipulation. While we do not support families using "Cry It Out", this is also not a no-cry solution. Tears in separation and tears in the arms of a loving caregiver are not equivalent. We will never ask you to leave your baby to cry alone. Children's emotions are their own - they are not something for us to control. It is their limbic system, not ours. It is our job to support parents in holding space for their children's emotions and empowering their children to have healthy emotional expression.
Can I continue to breastfeed to sleep and through the night?
Yes! There is really no such thing as a negative sleep association. We will keep what works for you, but we can also work to change things that are no longer serving you. Most of the parents that we work with choose to parent their children to sleep, which we think is wonderful!
What if I want to continue bed-sharing?
Absolutely, we feel that we can make changes to your family’s sleep while continuing to share a sleep space. We will walk you through what is realistic and we will discuss how to best support your child through this process as long as you are okay with co-sleeping safely. This is your decision and we can provide the information for you to do so safely.
I am so exhausted - how long will it take for us to see results?
This is not a quick fix - every child and family is so different and each family will have their own goals. While this is not a quick fix, it will provide you with a lasting solution. It may take some time to get to the root of why your baby or toddler is not sleeping, but this way we know we are addressing the true concern. With consistency, open communication and our support, you will see positive shifts during our time together. The amount of time it takes to see changes largely depends on many factors including the family's goals, child's temperament, and how the entire family responds to the changes.
Are you going to put us on a super strict schedule or generic sleep plan?
We actually don’t write sleep plans. There’s no way we can know on day 1 or 0 what your family will be doing on day 4, 7, or 14, because we have not yet experimented with a change to see how you and your baby respond to the changes. Instead, we connect with you daily. This allows us to see what is working and feeling right, but also what is not working and what needs to change. Our support is dynamic and custom to your family’s experience with the changes you are making.