The baby sleep training myths 1 year and under. – what we’ve learned through tracking and helping 80,000 children.
There are so many products, consultants and theories around baby sleep in the marketplace today. Sadly, the biggest concern is that there is no central body or regulation that checks and approves what goes out into the marketplace.
Keeping up to date with the latest medical and psychological research verges on the impossible for the regular parent.
So, how do you know what’s best for your bub?
Follow your instincts. The latest research clearly shows that any state of distress for either you or your child in relation to sleep and the sleep routine results in the worst possible outcome.
Let us take care of the heavy lifting and break down the 3 biggest sleep training myths and 3 key facts that will save your sleep.
Myth 1. Cry to sleep is an accepted method of sleep training
Unfortunately, any system that uses the traditional style ‘cry it out’ methodology (letting your baby cry themselves to sleep) is inherently flawed and could potentially be detrimental to both parent and child emotionally and developmentally.
Cry it out isn’t training your child to sleep on their own, it is simply a case of your bub becoming physically and emotionally exhausted from crying and not being responded to, so they stop crying, and sleep.
So, what is happening to both you and your child? Stress.
When the same minor distress is felt continuously it can cause what is called a ‘kindling effect’.
Just like a fire that needs lots of small pieces to burn effectively, all the minor stresses build up over time and form into what is called maladaptive stresses, meaning stressors that decrease our ability to function properly.
Each minor stressor may be “short-term”, but they accumulate to result in a much larger problem.
An ignored cry here or there isn’t going to have a major impact but when it’s consistent for over more than a week, the ‘kindling effect’ begins to occur for everyone involved.
Myth 2. Babies must be taught to be independent.
Until a certain developmental point, usually around 6mth -9mths old, your child’s brain is incapable of understanding independence.
Simply put, if your baby can’t see it, it doesn’t exist anymore. (This is called object permanence.)
Just think, when parents are not present, the child has no sense that they might be nearby. For them, you are gone, out of sight and out of reach.
When a baby is left alone, it is normal for them to have a normal stress reaction, this being their fight-flight reaction. However, babies cannot move or communicate beyond crying and they just want to know you are there.
Myth 3. Good babies sleep through the night.
Sleep needs for babies vary depending on their age.
Babies sleep most of the time after they’re born, but they sleep in very short segments. As a baby grows, the total amount of sleep they require slowly decreases. However, this also means that the length of night-time sleep they require increases.
Generally, newborns sleep about 8 to 9 hours in the daytime and about 8 hours at night, but they may not sleep more than 1 to 2 hours at a time.
Most babies don't start sleeping through the night (6 to 8 hours) without waking until they are about 3 months old, or until they weigh 5 to 6kg. About two-thirds of babies can sleep through the night regularly by age 6 months.
Babies also have different sleep cycles than adults. They spend much less time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (which is dream time sleep) and the cycles are shorter.
So, what are the 3 key sleep facts?
Fact 1. Routine
Routine is essential for your child as it establishes comforting predictability and a sense of safety. Choose a bedtime and stick to it. Research has shown a direct link between inconsistent bedtime and serious behavioural and emotional issues.
Your child’s bedtime ritual should be crafted to match their mood. A very overtired and weary child is not going to cope well with your ‘normal’ routine that may consist of dinner, play, bath, story-time, songs, cuddles and then lights out.
Pushing them past their sleep ‘set point’ merely serves to activate more cortisol and adrenaline, producing a hyperactive ‘bouncing off the walls’ toddler or a crying wound up baby that takes hours to settle.
Why the Glow Dreaming has proven to be so effective is because it engages a broad array of the child’s senses which better ingrain the routine into your child’s habits. This creates a physiological reaction when they reoccur. The Glow Dreaming impacts smell, sound, and sight. The reason we have left out touch is that it creates an over-dependence that can be difficult to break later.
Although essential, routine alone is often not enough…
Fact 2. Comfort and Compassion
As part of your routine ensure you are fulfilling both yours and the child’s emotional needs. Children need and want to be with parents. Gentle, attentive parenting is about that connection and responsiveness between you and your child.
Gentle parenting does need to include setting parameters and routines that will help build your child’s ability to sleep unaided when you are both ready.
It promotes bonding and provides emotional security and works to hard-wire your child’s brain to have the capacity to develop self-control and the ability to self-settle.
Glow Dreaming strongly recommends you spend part of your bedtime routine re-connecting and satisfying your child’s emotional needs.
Glow Dreaming has discovered that there are a range of comforting levels that can be applied during this process. The level selected is determined by the needs of the parent to ensure undue stress is not created. Understanding this process will also ensure the parent has realistic expectations of what level of success can be achieved. The most balanced success is usually achieved through presence comforting.
Glow Dreaming’s sleep analysis tool MSS Archangel carefully assesses both you and your child’s temperaments and habits and then provides the best techniques to create a bond and sense of security that will work best for both personalities.
Fact 3. Relaxation
If either you or your child isn’t relaxed, then getting some sleep is going to be extremely difficult for everyone. In the first year of your child’s life, their key form of communication is through sensing your emotions. The more stressed you are, the more stressed your child will become.
You must try and be as relaxed as possible if your child is upset.
The longer it takes to achieve relaxation, the more stressed families become. Frustration and missing the sleep window adds to cortisol release and the fight or flight hormone – adrenaline - coming in to play. The result is an emotional and overtired child and over-reactive parents.
Getting the routine part consistent but flexible to cater to over-tiredness and ensuring you are all emotionally happy, will ensure a much greater chance of sleep success.
The road to sleep success
The unregulated road to sleep success can be both confusing and confronting.
For maximum success, we recommend you just trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right and it makes you feel uncomfortable then it’s probably wrong.
Only after assessing, monitoring and studying 80,000 children is Glow Dreaming comfortable enough to come forward with a new way of looking, measuring and assessing sleep. It revolves around understanding both parent and child, their respective personalities, and emotional needs.
Achieving sleep success like any good relationship can only be achieved through compromise and determination. Sleep is the cornerstone of our mental health and physical wellbeing. Ensuring sleep success is the first step in achieving personal fulfillment and family happiness.