Parents often have lots of questions like "Do I have to teach my baby to sleep through the night?" "When is the best time to do sleep training?" "Do I have to let my baby cry-it-out?" One Mom asked:
I have a 2.5 month old baby who only likes to sleep being held and when put down to sleep alone, only stays asleep for a max half hour. I hear and have read contradicting info regarding sleep training babies now or later at 4 to 6 months.
Do I need to fix this now?
The answer is NO
You don't need to worry about comforting or feeding your baby to sleep. It's fine to keep doing what works for you as long as it works and as long as you are ok with comforting or feeding your baby back to sleep in the night.
There is no need to put your baby down 'Drowsy but Awake' or to avoid letting your baby fall asleep while feeding. Feeding a baby to sleep is a beautiful natural process when it works - and it often does. It is normal and natural and a wonderful gift! De-coupling feeding and sleeping is more likely to cause sleep problems.
Dr. Pamela Douglas states:
Sleepiness at the end of a feed is caused by the hormones of satiety and relaxation, and is a sign that the normal biological sleep regulators are kicking in.
Sleepiness at the end of feeds is a powerful biological cue; by deliberately ignoring this cue and not letting your baby fall asleep at the end of a feed, which is often what parents are told to do, we interfere with the healthy function of the sleep regulators.
The sleep may not last for long but catnapping during the day is quite normal for babies.
Pamela Douglas is a Doctor, Researcher and infant health expert from Brisbane, Australia.
If you are happy with current sleep situation then there is no need to change it. You will not create bad habits or life-long sleep associations.
If you don't feel you have a sleep problem, then there is no need to make changes! You don't have to sleep train your child ever if you don't want to.
If you decide later on that you have a sleep problem or perhaps even a sleep emergency, you can make changes at that time.
We have worked with thousands of children as well as adults and we have never seen a situation where sleep could not be improved later.
That's where our KinderSleep team comes in. We work with families who need sleep help to create gentle and holistic sleep plans, tailored to each family and child, we coach you through the process and if you need in-home help we also provide that service in some areas. (Currently Arizona: Pheonix and Ontario, Canada: Greater Toronto Area, Niagara Region, Kitchener-Waterloo, Barrie area, Ottawa-Gatineau)
There are times when it is easier to to learn sleep skills. I would say there really is no difference between 6 months and 10 months of age, and it may only be slightly harder up until 18 months of age. The most challenging time to change sleep habits (or any habits) is between 18 months and 2.5 years of age - however this is not impossible, it just takes longer and requires a specialized plan.
The worst time to work on sleep is around that 4 month mark, when many parents get to the end of their rope. This is a time for hanging in there. Check out our article on The 4 Month Sleep Regression.
We don't advocate doing and sleep coaching, training or sleep shaping that involves crying before AT LEAST 4.5 months and if possible to wait as longer to see long-term results and easier coaching.
When you are ready to make some changes to sleep, you don't have to use Cry-it-out. We suggest methods that involve staying with the child and being sensitive, responsive and effective.
It is perfectly fine, normal and natural to nurse, feed or comfort your baby to sleep. Do what works even if you need to use the motion of a swing, vibrating chair, carrier, stroller or rock n' play.
If you are concerned about your sleep or frustrated give us a call or book a free 15 minute consult to get some tips and direction.
Article by Andrea Strang