I am so grateful I decided to learn more about baby sleep before I had my second, and particularly biologically normal sleep. It has saved me from a lot of stress and anxiety. With my first, I literally thought I had broken him. I became more interested in baby sleep and started to learn more about it and so I realised how normal it all was.
Let’s talk about feeding to sleep for example
“Is feeding to sleep bad?” I often get asked this question. The notion that feeding to sleep is a “bad” habit puts so much unnecessary pressure and anxiety on moms. It takes away from enjoying motherhood when you’re constantly weighed down by the fact that your little one feeds to sleep so you must be doing something wrong.
First things first, feeding to sleep and co-sleeping for that matter, is biologically normal. It is how most babies get to sleep around the world. It is the most effective method to get your baby to sleep. So it makes sense that it is very common and there should be no judgement if it’s working for you. (Hang in there, there is good news to come!)
Babies need us to regulate, they need us to feel safe. It is a survival mechanism to want to be close to us. In the first year, our babies attach through the senses which makes sense as to why they settle and sleep best on us.
With that beings said, biologically normal infant sleep looks quite different to what a lot of us have expectations around. This probably has a lot to do with how generations before us approached sleep and extreme methods that were used to get babies to sleep independently.
This has left a lot of parents expecting that their babies should sleep through from a certain point and sleep independently easily.
So if you’re like, that’s great this is what I want and now that I know it’s biologically normal then I don’t need to change anything!!
If someone told me in the midst of severe sleep deprivation that this is biologically normal and I just needed to ride it out for however long, I would’ve gone into a really dark space. Because I. DO. NOT. FUNCTION. WELL. ON. LITTLE. SLEEP. And I have a full time business to run.
I needed someone to tell me, this is biologically normal (your baby is not broken) AND you can still improve sleep responsively and guide your little one towards more independent sleep. So you can be better rested, cope better with life’s stressors and ultimately be a better mum.
I’ve worked with a lot of parents who want to work on sleep but they don’t necessarily want to stop co-sleeping or feeding to sleep or rocking etc. I recently worked with a mom who was rocking her little one to sleep and she very clearly stated in the intake form that she didn’t want to stop rocking her little one to sleep. I totally respected that choice.
About halfway through mum realised that the rocking was preventing her little one from getting longer stretches of sleep overnight. She then came to terms with the fact that since it was holding her little one back (and ultimately the whole family) from getting better sleep, she needed to help her little one get used to falling asleep in her crib. This was because they had another child to tend to and both work full time. They couldn’t afford to be sleep deprived (well, no one can). Once her little one got used to this new way of falling asleep, we saw a lot of improvement overnight.
It’s ok to want better sleep
With that being said, and like this Mum realised, it’s ok to want better sleep for yourself and your family. It’s ok if getting there looks like gently guiding your little one towards more independent sleep instead of “riding it out”.
Just because our babies are hardwired to feed to sleep or co-sleep does not mean that it is our only option or necessary for their survival in this day and age. And no, it won’t harm attachment (1)(2)(3).
It’s also ok to choose not to teach your little one independent sleep and to continue with your sleep set up if it’s working for you. Don’t be pressurised into doing anything that hasn’t come from your own desire or intuition.
If you would like help working WITH your little one’s biology to improve sleep, click here to see how I can help you.