When parents report that they have sleep challenges they may hear certain suggestions from others such as – “you will just need to let them cry” to “ you should never let them cry”. This often means that parents are conflicted and, in a dilemma, as managing the ongoing sleep deprivation may be so hard that they feel that to allow their baby to cry it out is the only way.
As a practitioner, I do not advocate to leave your baby to cry it out, that doesn’t mean that as you help them sleep better they won’t cry, but I do believe that if you are going to begin a sleep learning exercise, and your baby is older than 6 months and there are changes that you could make to help initiate a naturally longer need for sleep for both your baby and yourself, then we can accompany them on their journey and we can support and encourage them as you help and nurture a sleep skill set, even if they find this a bit hard.
There is a balance to most parenting approaches and in general I encourage parents to seek information that resonates with them, and that feels right and in line with their parenting philosophies and their ultimate vision for their family unit.
I encourage that in order to avoid ever having to make a big decision about how you help your baby to sleep, that in the early days you embark on my sleep shaping suggestions and many parents report then that their child’s sleep ability is naturally encouraged, whilst others may find that beyond 6 months, a sleep learning process may help further.
Before any sleep approach would be considered, a solid foundation for sleep is recommended, such as an age relevant feeding and sleeping balance to the day and a concerted effort to both read the language for sleep as well as avoiding an overtired presentation. Simple steps such as a calm bedtime routine and a sleep friendly environment all can add to their sleep prowess.
Then if you are in the position that further changes are required, such as transition from rocking or feeding to sleep then, my stay and support approach will give you and your baby a perfect opportunity to learn to sleep, but without being left alone. As you physically, emotionally, and appropriately support your child with my framework then you can help them become safe and secure and in time you can work through the stages of phasing yourself out of the room at the pace that they are ready and able for.
Retain your instincts, your parental knowing and be kind to yourself as you make changes that feel right for you.
Lucy Wolfe is a Sleep consultant, Co-creational Parent and Relationship Mentor, Author of The Baby Sleep Solution and All About The Baby Sleep Solution, creator of “Sleep Through”, a natural bed and body sleep spray and relaxing rub, and Mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise, and valuable support to families around the world