In the world your little one enters into, she looks to you and the people closest to her as her everything – her provider, her teacher, her nurturer. Whatever you teach your baby, your baby takes your word on. Your baby doesn’t know any better. She takes her cues, builds habits and learns from you. The way you teach her how to sleep is also something that she will begin to learn from you. By keeping in mind, “What am I teaching my little one,” you can begin to understand and see the bigger picture.
In my mind, It should not feel as though you’re trying to trick your baby into sleep or into her cot or that you have to put your baby purposely all the way to sleep before you can leave the room or before you can put her down. But rather it should feel like you’re helping your baby where she needs it, as much as she needs and that you are staying ever present to look out for the moment where you may be able to do a little bit less. However, by rocking or feeding her to sleep purposely, without staying present to the opportunity where you can do less, you begin to build sleep associations and habits in which she learns that to get to sleep she has to be fed, rocked or cuddled to sleep. She learns that this is the way to go to sleep.
It is absolutely fine to help your baby fall asleep, as much as she needs, whenever she needs you. That’s what we are there for – to love our babies, reassure them, guide them and cover them with a million kisses. But, equally, you want to gently encourage her to do more on the sleep front where she can, helping to take a little bit of the sleep responsibility off of you and put a little more on her. Over time, as she can, you will begin to see that it becomes more and more natural to her and that you will find yourself being able to do less.
You will also find that day by day; you find it easier to spot the opportunities where you can do a little less and where your little one can happily do a little more. Other days you will try, only to find your baby wasn’t ready or happy at that moment to do more without your help and you need to help your baby a little more, and that’s ok too!
You can also download my free eBook, ‘7 Reasons why your baby may not be sleeping’ here.