From the moment our babies are born they begin working on skills for life. These include grabbing objects, rolling over, making sounds, walking, eating, and even sleeping. Just as a baby must learn how to crawl and then walk, they also must learn how to sleep because sleeping is a skill too!
Think about it this way, if we help our kids walk all of the time they never learn, right? It’s the same with sleep. We can assist them and give the the proper tools they need but we can’t do it for them. As with any skill it takes time to learn and some learn faster than others. And learning to sleep is the most important skill because this is when their brains and bodies grow and absorb the other skills!
In a recent study, researchers at University of Minnesota and University of Montreal followed 60 infants from 12 to 24 months old and found that the children who sleep better at night “do better on tests of executive functioning, including impulse control, mental flexibility and working memory, compared with kids who sleep less at night.” (Reference link)
Sure, we can survive on less sleep but just because you don’t see the immediate effects that lack of sleep has on you and your child doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
Learning to walk doesn’t happen overnight and neither does learning how to sleep. The term “sleep training” sounds harsh so, let’s call it sleep learning since we are talking about a skill. The best way to work on a skill is to give assistance and then reduce the time using the assistance. To help you child sleep, you can develop a good night time routine to transition into a calmer state and then slowly reduce the time you spend assisting your child with falling asleep.
It sounds easy but I know that it’s not and that’s why I work with parents to figure out what and why a certain method will work. That’s why books work for some but not others because the information is general and what works for one may not work for the next.
To help end your sleepless nights, visit the Parent Resources page for sample routines, a baby sleep chart, and much more! You aren’t alone with your struggle to get a good night of sleep and you don’t have to continue it alone either!