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Removing Yourself From Baby's Sleep Routine

OK, perhaps that is a little bit of a misleading title…

I’m not suggesting that you can remove yourself from baby’s bedtime routine completely. Even if you could somehow say to your child, “Alright. It’s almost bedtime. Go have a bath, brush your teeth, get into your PJ's, read yourself a story and tuck yourself in. Mummy will be out here watching Succession with a glass of wine if you need me.”

Even if we could pull that off, I don’t know a single mum that would actually enjoy removing themselves from the routine. (Well, maybe once a week.)

I love putting my son to bed. Watching him play in the bath, getting him dressed, cuddling and reading stories, I wouldn’t trade that for all the wine and trash TV in the world.

The problem I see with most parents whose babies won’t sleep through the night takes place after their little one gets into bed.

The problem starts with a parent getting in bed with their child in order to get them to fall asleep, and here’s why that is a problem sometimes….

When you get into bed with your little darling, they will almost always want to cuddle up to you. Even if it’s just the slightest touch, they rely on the sensation of feeling you next to them in order to soothe themselves to sleep.

The problem is that babies, like their adult, don’t just fall asleep and stay asleep for nine or ten hours. We all sleep in cycles, which transition from a stage of light sleep to deep sleep, and back again.

When adults wake from one of these cycles, we don’t remember it happening the next day, because we are only awake for a minute or two before we fall back to sleep. We can do that easily because we’re now used to it. We know how to fall back to sleep on our own, without help.

If a baby is so used to falling asleep next to a parent, with the soothing ability to reach out and touch that parent, then what are they supposed to do when they wake up after a sleep cycle and that parent is nowhere to be found?

As you probably know, they will cry.

They cry until a parent comes to them and gets back into that same spot, which baby now sees as a cue to go to sleep.

This is why you will hear so often parents say, “My baby refuses go to sleep without me next to him.” It’s not because they need the reassurance that they’re safe, or that your presence is necessarily calming to them, it’s just part of their routine that they follow to get to sleep.

OK, so what is the solution?

I mean you could co-sleep, so your baby can reach out and touch you every time they wake up, but if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’ve already given that a go, and found it’s not the Utopian solution you had hoped for.

A couple of late-night kicks in the face, or a forever writhing baby with her fingers in your eye can cause a quick change in plans for a lot of parents who thought co-sleeping would solve their night-time woes.

Or, and this suggestion comes with a much higher recommendation, you can let them learn some independent sleep skills which they can call on anytime they wake up, in order to get back to sleep all on their own.

I know that might sound like a lot to ask for a baby, but I’m not suggesting anything too challenging, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they adapt to new strategies for getting to sleep. Stroking a lovey, chewing on a blanket, or even just playing with their own fingers and toes can be effective little methods for making the transition into sleep, and the best part is, they can be done anytime baby wakes up, whatever time of the day or night.

Are you wanting help to transition away from your current routine? If so, I offer a free sleep evaluation call to discuss how I can help!

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