Focus On Calm, Not Sleep.Dec 07, 2023
One of the biggest myths in the sleep world, is that we can control it.
Truth be told, we cannot force anyone to sleep. Sure, we can do things to help facilitate sleep, but we cannot force our baby to actually close their eyes and sleep.
Sometimes, we can get caught up in what our baby 'should' be doing, when they 'should' be settling and how we can 'get them down' creating a sense of pressure to 'make' sleep happen.
Naturally, when we feel this pressure and sleep doesn't quite go to plan, we can feel an overwhelming sense of stress or perhaps even failure that we haven't been able to get them down.
Truth be told, bad days are going to happen! And sometimes our kiddos just won't settle or sleep the way we hoped!
Of course, when we feel this pressure to make sleep happen, and it doesn't, it can be frustrating! In turn, we might feel really upset, angry and overwhelmed.
The tricky tension is that our kiddos are intense co-regulators, our vibe becomes their vibe so naturally, when we are feeling this way, it can make it even tricker for them to settle - an unfortunate snowball!
Over time, if sleep turns into a battle, it might also feel like a really negative time for you both, which is the opposite of what we need in order to drift off.
So what is the solution?!
Focus on creating calm, not putting them to sleep.
What is causing the stress?
- Reframe how you approach sleep - Your job is to calm and co-regulate with your baby, their job is to do the sleeping.
- Observe how long you feel comfortable trying to settle for before you feel overwhelmed and make that your cap before taking at least a 30+ minute breather and trying again! If you aren't sure, 15 minutes might be a good gague!
- Is a routine or schedule making you panicked? Take the pressure off! You can't fail at baby sleep, and its okay if its taking a little longer today, sleep doesn't need to be by the clock!
- Are you feeling rushed? Could it help to carve out an extra 10-15 minutes to have a slower wind down/pre-bedtime routine so that you aren't feeling rushed
What calms you?
- Can you create a mantra to remind you "I am creating the calm I want my baby to have" it is not my job to make him sleep"
- How does your body feel? Checkin and see if anything needs to relax - unclench your jaw, lower your shoulders, unclench your firsts
- Practice some box breathing (google it!)
- Consider listening to some music or a podcast so you have something to focus on other than sleep.
- Make sure you've met your needs before settling - go to the bathroom, have some water and scoff down a snack
- How do you feel about the way you are settling? Are there elements that are triggering to you you might need to shift? This happened to me when Theo decided he wanted to full my hair every bedtime
- How do you feel about the dark? Does it feel overwhelming? Could a small red based light help
What calms your baby?
- Focusing on the calm means tuning in to their cues and what you find they respond well to.
- Experiment with different kinds of input - rocking, bouncing, swaying, walking, feeding, sucking, patting, shushing, humming, holding their hand, rubbing their back or playing with their hair
- Use eye contact, talk to your baby gently about all the things you love about them
- Consider if a break and a reset would help - this can be something as simple as walking into the hallway rather than the room
- Is there an actual trigger that may need some tweaking? If the sleep sack causes a big reaction, could you try a sleep suit? Could we put it on in a different environment and earlier? If the cot is hard, would a floorbed immediately take the the battle away?
Sleep can feel really overwhelming at times in the first years of life. So, recognizing what is and isn't in our control is really important to take some of the pressure off.
Remember, it's completely normal for your baby to struggle to be apart from you - your baby truly is hard wired to want to be in close, sensory proximity to you. You haven't caused this, it's biology.
You're doing a really great job. Your baby is so lucky to have you.
Hope this helps,
Need more help?
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