The topic of independent falling asleep of a child has become very fashionable in the last couple of years. Some experts advise to teach the child to sleep without help from birth, others agitate for rocking and feeding to sleep until the baby himself refuses to do so. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle.
Why do I need to fall asleep on my own?
Our sleep consists of cycles. This is an evolutionary necessity. At the end of each cycle (approximately every hour and a half), we «wake up» to make sure that we are safe and in the same conditions as we fell asleep: there is no tiger nearby, the fire has not gone out…
The child’s sleep is also cyclical, but these cycles are very short — 30-40 minutes, so the baby is «awakened» much more often.
And then what happens is this: if a child falls asleep in his arms, in the process of rocking, sucking a bottle, breast or nipple, then, «waking up» at the end of his sleep cycle, he wants to restore the conditions of falling asleep, return to a safe environment. Therefore, parents have to get up 10 times at night and pump, feed, give a pacifier and so on.
If the child falls asleep in his crib, without the active help of an adult, with light stroking or under his mother’s lullaby, then there is no radical change in the conditions of falling asleep and sleeping, and the baby wakes up at night only to eat.
It turns out that learning to fall asleep on your own is the only effective way to solve the problem of frequent night awakenings? If some specialist tells you exactly that, run away from him.
There are many reasons for a child’s poor sleep.
In addition to associations for falling asleep (something without which the baby cannot fall asleep), it can be an incorrect daily routine, a lack of relaxation before going to bed, a lack of activity during wakefulness, and even an inappropriate temperature in the bedroom.
Therefore, before teaching a child to self-sleep, you need to deal with all other factors.
Three steps to independent falling asleep of the child
We introduce additional associations — voice, touch, sleepy friend, white noise. When you remove a strong association, they will help the baby calm down.
We build the rhythm of the day in accordance with the needs of the child. If the baby walks too much or sleeps a lot during the day to sleep at night, he will need strong help. But you will be just cleaning up this help.
We hone relaxation before going to bed. To fall asleep without its strong association, the child must be relaxed and calm.
Only when you have completed these three steps, you can proceed directly to learning how to fall asleep on your own. Practice shows that already at the stage of establishing the daily routine, children begin to sleep better. And for many parents, this is already enough for a comfortable life.
You really need to fall asleep on your own if:
The child is healthy, but he sleeps very poorly at night, is constantly capricious during the day and looks tired.
The baby came out of the period of gestation (from birth to 3-4 months).
You have adjusted the regime, but the bad dream remains.
You just run out of strength to get up to the baby at night many times and hold him in your arms during all daytime dreams.
What to do if there is an association for falling asleep, but parents are not ready to teach the baby to fall asleep independently?
You can replace one association with another. The one that suits the child, and does not require huge efforts from you. For example, sleep with a breast in your mouth is replaced by sleep with a pacifier (unless, of course, the child wakes up from losing it). If the baby has grown up, he is 7-8 months old, but he wakes up from the fact that he loses a pacifier, you can teach him to find this pacifier on his own.
Swinging on the ball is replaced by swinging right on the mattress. Or to sleep together, so as not to jump up 6 times a night on the ball.
If the baby is used to falling asleep with swings, and suddenly they began to pat him on the ass, this will not work. Associations for falling asleep are what a child is used to falling asleep with. And if he is abruptly offered another instead of one, he will not fall asleep. Independent falling asleep is just falling asleep without everything. We remove the associations, the baby begins to sleep.
Think about which version of the child’s sleep would suit you if, for some reason, the baby could not be taught to self-sleep? Allow yourself this option (especially for sleeping together) and try it.
Perhaps self-sleep in its classic version: put-stroked—out – you will not need it.
Not all children are able to fall asleep absolutely without the help of an adult. If the baby is highly sensitive, easily excited, impressionable and timid, then an attempt to leave him to sleep alone in the room will become a strong stress for him.
Listen to your child, and choose options that will suit both of you. Sooner or later, all children begin to sleep on their own.