Becoming a parent is one of the most beautiful, yet humbling, vulnerable, and challenging experiences in life. We have the responsibility of raising our children to be resilient, independent, and kind humans. But, how do we do that? It’s a daunting task in and of itself. Add on the opinions and expectations of others, it can leave us second guessing ourselves, and that’s when those feelings of guilt and unease can creep in.
Sleep especially, is a hot button topic these days. Approaches to baby and child sleep are passionately debated and tend to fall within two groups – those who “sleep train” and those who take the “attachment parenting” approach to sleep.
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The Attachment Parenting Approach
Attachment parenting, coined by Dr. William Sears, promotes proximal closeness and touch, including during sleep, nursing to sleep throughout the night, and immediate responsiveness when baby cries. Providing information about safe sleep practices is a top priority of ours as sleep consultants, and we advocate for parents to room share, and not bed share.
There is an important distinction to be made between attachment parenting and the development of a secure attachment. Read more about that here.
The Sleep Training Approach
Sleep training is an approach to sleep where parents provide opportunities for their babies to learn how to fall asleep on their own. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
To help a baby develop a healthy relationship with sleep, where they can fall asleep easily, and achieve deep restorative sleep, all of the pieces of the puzzle must come together:
1 – A consistent environment that is conducive to sleep
2 – An age appropriate nap schedule and bedtime
3 – Nap and bedtime routines
4 – A method of responding to baby when they wake
Sleep Training and Crying
The common concern we hear from parents, some who follow the tenets of attachment parenting, is that they do not want to leave their baby to cry alone in their crib for fear that it will do irreparable harm. If that is a concern of yours, please read this article on what some of the research says about sleep training, stress, and crying.
Is there crying involved with sleep training? Yes, there can be crying, even when using the most gradual of methods of response. Babies cry because it is their means of communication. They do not cry because they feel abandoned or because they are scared. They cry because change is hard, and learning how to fall asleep independently is hard. Practicing this new skill becomes even harder when babies are overtired, which makes it even more important to get the right plan in place, and the help and support you need at the outset. When you work with a Good Night Sleep Site consultant, we are your coach and cheerleader; we are all working towards a common goal and we remove the guesswork!
No matter your parenting approach, there is always a way to work towards better sleep. Some approaches take longer than others to achieve independent sleep, but with consistency and perseverance, you will see results! At the end of the day, the best approach to sleep that you can use, is the one that feels right for you and your child.
If you want to connect because you are struggling with your family’s sleep and want to learn more about how we can help, book a discovery call.