Anyone who has said they “slept like a baby” has probably never actually had one.
It’s all well and good to joke, but mamas and papas who are chronically sleep-deprived probably feel more like crying than laughing. Each new developmental stage seems to bring a shift in sleep habits as well. It’s hard. Really hard. I have been there — several times. And I know many families who have been and are at their wits’ end. It doesn’t matter where your baby is sleeping (bed, crib, hammock), with whom they are sleeping (mama, papa, siblings), what sleep associations they have (sucking, noise, motion) or how long they are “supposed” to be sleeping for (16, 14, 12 hours a day). Newborns to babies to toddlers to preschoolers and beyond; each stage has its own unique quirks and challenges.
It’s normal for parents to want more sleep. And it’s also normal when they start having some strong feelings when their current sleep decisions are no longer beneficial or even adequate. Flexibility is key. The needs of the entire family must be taken into account – over and over again. This is normal. What was working before needs to be tweaked, shifted or completely overhauled!
It’s important to know that you don’t need to sacrifice gentle parenting in order to save your sanity.
Here are some of my favorite resources that have helped us “save our sleep”! In creating this list, I have tried to include resources that have tips for a wide variety of family sleep styles.
- Kellymom.com is a breastfeeding website run by an IBCLC. Lots of great advice and a book recommendation page.
- Dr. Sears is wonderful! He coined the term “attachment parenting” and all of his suggestions reflect this philosophy. His books “The Baby Book“, “The Baby Sleep Book” (much the same information as in “The Baby Book”) and “Nighttime Parenting” (an older version of “The Baby Sleep Book”).
- Elizabeth Pantley is all about “no-cry” solutions, including books on “The No-Cry Sleep Solution“, “The No-Cry Nap Solution” and “No-Cry Sleep Solutions for Toddlers and Preschoolers“.
- Dr. Jay Gordon (pediatrician) has a gentle method for changing sleep patterns, intended for babies older than 1 year. He has also co-written a book called “Good Nights“.
- Dr. Momma‘s website has lots of evidence-based articles on why CIO (“cry-it-out”/Ferber method) is physiologically and psychologically damaging to babies.
- Hand in Hand Parenting talks about the reasons why children’s unresolved feelings might be waking them up at night and how to help him/her work through them.
- Hypnobabies has a toddler sleep CD that helps 1-4 year olds relax and fall asleep.
- Have you considered using homeopathy?
- Tribalbaby has some tips on nursing to sleep and other sleep associations you can make