By Caroline Radford & Caroline MacMahon. , 5th July 2015
The art of cooking and getting a baby to sleep are amazingly similar. There is no one way to make a sponge cake or a curry, just as there is no one way to get a baby to sleep. Many sleep ‘experts’ will advocate that their method is the best and ‘only’ way to assist a baby to sleep well. No one particular way of doing this is going to suit every single baby of parents wishing to help their baby to sleep.
After working with babies for over twenty years and especially in my last ten years working as a Baby Sleep Specialist with Caroline’s Angels, and having two of my own, the main thing that I have learned is that no two babies are alike. Every baby will respond differently when offered a change or a set of feelings that they associate with sleep.
Instead of getting a recipe for sleep that is applied to each baby, aim to experiment with different strategies to see how your baby responds, make your own unique recipe for your own unique child.
There are a couple of important principles to follow if we expect a baby to sleep well, but how you meet this criteria will differ greatly from baby to baby.
It sounds pretty simple, and can be much harder to implement that it sounds.
For a baby to sleep well, they need to:
A) go to sleep in the same place as they wake up in
B) feel the same when they wake as they did when they went to sleep.
So, for example, when your baby wakes up they are quite often
* in their cot
* nothing in their mouth
* an older baby may wake up and sit or stand, so position is different. And this may differ vastly from the feelings that they experience going to sleep.
Make a list of what your baby needs to go to sleep, then make a list of how and where your baby wakes up. See if there is anything different and then make a plan of getting them to be very similar. This can be very overwhelming if you have more than a few points to work on, then address these with a phasic approach. By that, I mean, just pick one aspect of change and just make very simple and small changes but allow your baby to adapt to that one simple change. Then decide on the next change you need to make and focus just on that and so on.
Making a delicious meal will be much more successful with planning ahead. Deciding on what you wish to cook and then having the required ingredients, quantities and cooking implements to make it just the way you want it to be. Preparing to help a baby sleep well is just the same. Before rushing into major change, make plans, enlist help or support and make sure that you are setting yourself up to succeed.